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The Grinder recap: Buckingham Malice

Dean resolves to live a ‘normal’ life.

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Greg Gayne/Fox

The Grinder

type:
TV Show
seasons:
1
run date:
09/29/15
performer:
Rob Lowe, Fred Savage
broadcaster:
Fox
genre:
Comedy

Rob Lowe got himself into some hot water last weekend in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. As often happens in 2015 after an event like this, the news of the horrorific details spread across social media, allowing people to connect with one another and also for celebrities to send their well-wishes to the people suffering in the City of Light. Lowe is typically a pretty benign Twitter presence, primarily plugging his current television shows and sending kudos to collaborators. But he got oddly political following the announcement from French President François Hollande that the nation would be sealing its borders in an effort to catch the perpetrators responsible for these awful crimes. (In the end, they merely heightened security without actually closing.) In response, Lowe tweeted this: 

 

He was immediately lambasted for having the same approach to foreign policy as Donald Trump. (The two have a lot in common: They both have had shows on NBC, and neither has a chance at becoming president.) I understand why people would be up in arms about Lowe’s politics, but at the same time, why do we care? Lowe’s job is to recite lines written for him on television, not establish a workable immigration policy. I know that there are people out there basing their entirely lives around what Kim Kardashian ate this morning, but fame does not lend anybody wisdom or gravitas (and in fact tends to rob perfectly intelligent people of any sense of logic). What Lowe or anybody else said in the wake of the Paris attacks should be processed the same way you think about the wrong-headed memes your dumb uncle puts on Facebook. Just shrug and move on. 

Of course, Lowe managed to put out something he’s actually adept at last week: remarkably sharp, deadpan comedy. 

Ah, that’s the good stuff. 

Despite his fame, Rob Lowe is just a regular guy, even though this week’s episode of The Grinder seemed to prove otherwise. After getting a giant box of free socks (RHYMING), Stewart points out that while Dean wanted to come back home to live a “normal” life, he still receives all sorts of special treatment because of his celebrity. Dean takes this to heart and vows to turn down stuff like gratis meals and late-night Boggle sessions with Paul Giamatti. 

Although everybody thinks that’s a noble idea that Dean will not actually adhere to, it does get in the way of Stewart’s sex vacation (sorry, “intimate getaway”) to the mountains with Debbie. His car — the one with the snow tires — is in the shop, and mechanic Farouk (who may or may not be Armenian) keeps moving the goalposts on when it’s going to be ready. Stewart realizes that he can exploit Dean in order to get his car back earlier, but Dean isn’t having it. But Stew takes Claire’s advice and tricks him like she tricks her dog into going to the vet. Not only do they get the car on time, but Farouk tells the boys they can have the car back for nothing. 

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Speaking of cars, Dean has his own vehicular run-in while on the road. He blows through a stop sign and gets stopped by Officer Collins (guest star Nathan Fielder). Collins doesn’t want to give the Grinder a ticket, but Dean insists that he get written up because that’s what regular people do. What else do regular people do? They also go to court and argue their tickets, which is exactly what Dean does. Of course, he manages to seduce the judge into dismissing the ticket and also insults Collins in the process. 

That comes around to bite him in the end, as when they go to collect Stew’s car, they discover that Farouk is in the hospital and apparently didn’t tell anybody they could have the work for free. So they get pulled over for jumping the bill, and once again it’s Collins. They end up in jail, and though Stew comes up with a clever plan to bust out in order to make his intimate getaway, Dean realizes the noble thing would be to go back into jail and wait it out like a normal person would. 

When Dean Sr., Lizzie, and Ethan collect him the next day, he realizes one clear thing: He’s famous, and he owes it to the people who made him famous to remain famous. It’s a simple charge, with no politics required. 

Allowable Exhibits

  • The Rob Lowe Appreciation Society now turns its attention to Wayne’s World. The early ’90s were a weird time for Lowe, as he still had plenty of name cache but had trouble transitioning from Brat Pack heartthrob to just a working actor. He ended up finding a bit of a niche as a villain in SNL-related comedies, including this movie and Tommy Boy. He’s pretty perfect as a corporate foil for Wayne and Garth, and his sexy slick hucksterism is exactly the type of thing that would seduce our heroes into selling out. And he’s even involved in a Scooby-Doo ending!
  • Last week’s Moonbeam City featured the team at a gathering called Cop Con, where Dazzle and Pizzaz keep hooking up. I know she’s got nothing to do with The Grinder, but Elizabeth Banks (as Pizzaz) is exceptionally great on Moonbeam. The way she expresses her sex-related shame is hilarious. Also, this week’s episode allowed Lowe to use the phrase “Snitches get stitches.” 
  • Updates on the biography of Mitchard Grinder: He taught at Cambridge, he had sex with a guy’s wife while wearing a mask of that guy, and he took heroin that one time.  
  • One of the things Dean does to feel like a regular person is wait 45 minutes for a table at a restaurant. While waiting, he encounters some interesting characters. “That’s a guy named Ron. How real is that?” 
  • Dean is the celebrity freebie for a lot of people in the greater Boise area. 
  • The B-plot of this episode involved Debbie’s struggles with a new assistant. It was not particularly engaging, and I worry that the writers of The Grinder don’t know what to do with the exceptional talent of Mary Elizabeth Ellis. 
  • Dean is not cut out for life in the pokey. “I can’t believe that guy just defecated in front of us. It’s a power play — and it worked.” 

 

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