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'The Grinder': Moonlighting as a real person

Season 1 | Episode 4 | Little Mitchard No More | Aired Oct 20, 2015

Sidekicks are underrated. They’re always there for the hero, yet they’re rarely noticed or given credit for their part in his or her success. The Grinder demonstrates that the same could be said of being a family member or friend of a celebrity. Stewart knows this all too well. Hell, his own father and son constantly fawn over Dean more than they do over him. How is Stewart supposed to trust someone new that comes into his circle? That’s the question “Little Mitchard No More” raises.

When Lyle and Vanessa Gerhart (Nat Faxon and Alexie Gilmore), of the Gerhart Center for the Performing Arts, invite themselves over for dinner, all of Stewart’s red flags go up. He’s been used his whole life as a means to meet Dean, and he smells the familiar stench of Fake Friends. Despite the eau de deceit, Deb convinces him to give them a chance.

The opening shot of The Grinder, the spooftacular show within a show, gives us Dean’s theme for the week: Show your true self. Only problem is, he’s not entirely sure who exactly he is. He’s been the Grinder for so long that the line between reality and his fictional character have blurred. Who is the real Dean Sanderson? Right now, he’s someone who’s obsessed with winning over the firm’s new lawyer, Claire Lacoste (the deliciously droll Natalie Morales). She thinks his show is silly and that he has no substance. Stewart adores her for being immune to his brother. Dean sees her as a challenge, but goes about trying to impress her in all the wrong ways.

Dinner with the Gerharts is awkward and revealing. They butter Stewart up like a French roll and feign shock (poorly) when they learn his brother is the Dean Sanderson. Yet they do their level best to convince their hosts they mean well, even going so far as to invite them to a fundraiser (and, oh yeah, Dean’s invited too).

After Deb advises Dean to talk to Claire about work, she gives him a stack of background checks to summarize by the next morning. Being given an assignment wasn’t really what he’d aimed for. Besides, he’s used to all-nighter montages, not actual work. Dean tells Claire he just wants her to know the real him. Her response cuts him to the quick: “And there is one, right?”

Deb and Stewart attend the fundraiser, sans Dean. Not only do the Gerharts withhold the opportunity for Stewart to meet a judge who’s in attendance, they guilt him into calling Dean because a teen suffering from cancer wishes to meet the Grinder. Stewart gives in and calls his brother, but he also gives the Gerharts a piece of his mind. They’re unmoved, having gotten what they wanted, but his tirade gains the attention of the judge he’d hoped to meet. He congratulates Stewart for putting those two frauds in their rightful place. Then he asks about Dean.

To both Claire and Dean’s astonishment, Dean manages to find evidence to clear their client of the charges against him. Impressed that he put in the work—an actual all-nighter—she says she may have underestimated him. Thinking he reads some sexual tension, he takes a note from one of his episodes and sweeps her desk clean with his arm, intending to take her right there, right now! Claire merely arches a brow, then tells him to clean up the mess.

As she walks out, Dean gives one of his hilarious narrative asides: “Will they? Won’t they?”

I’d bet they will eventually, but I hope not too soon. Claire is a perfect wry and dry foil to Dean’s flawed determination and narcissism. This is one fun chase, reminiscent of Maddie and David in Moonlighting. Getting the girl ruined that show, so The Grinder should be wary of grinding outside the courtroom.

Speaking of outside the courtroom, it was nice to see Stewart confidently stand up for himself. The spark looks good on him.

The Grinder airs Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30C on Fox.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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