Tuesday, January 5, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Grinder' - Dean Continues to be Thrown By Timothy Olyphant's Presence in 'The Olyphant in the Room'

FOX's The Grinder - Episode 1.10 "The Olyphant in the Room"

After Dean catches Timothy Olyphant making out with Claire, he thinks he can "win her back" by taking the lead on a case - and using very questionable tactics. Stewart is excited that a reporter is writing a story on him, but becomes upset when Dean steals the spotlight.

The Grinder had a strong end to its fall run of episodes. With the introduction of The Grinder: New Orleans which brought Timothy Olyphant and Jason Alexander into things, the show found a really strong focus. And yet, the purpose of that arc was to get Dean to finally say goodbye to his former life and character. He did that in a really absurd and ridiculous but also emotionally honest way. Now, the show has to find a future that is just as captivating to watch. That has been a struggle for the show as it's been trying to juggle many different things. There's a nice blend of genres happening within the show. It's an inside showbiz story. It's a legal comedy. It's a family comedy. It's a blend that needs to be very carefully executed. Often times, the inside showbiz stuff has outshined the rest of the story - even though Fred Savage and Mary Elizabeth Ellis have gotten quite good with their reactions to everything.

It's also important to note that just because Dean said goodbye to his character, that doesn't mean the show is gone from these characters' lives. The family is still watching an episode of The Grinder at the top of the episode. The franchise may still be continuing on. But the Sandersons still take some comfort in watching the repeats of the old show that they love so much more. It's still a big part of their lives - even though everyone is now moving forward and more away from the show. Plus, Dean still has plenty of showbiz friends and contacts who can weave in and out of the individual stories. This episode features a guest appearance by Jimmy Kimmel. First of all, it's spectacular that ABC was even okay with letting Kimmel do this appearance on a rival network. But nevertheless, it shows just how outrageous Dean is capable of being - seeing as how he goes on Kimmel's show just to force a criminal into action.

The show has also found a smart way to keep Timothy Olyphant around. By putting him into a relationship with Claire, it allows for both characters to be very delightful. They are enjoying this relationship. Plus, it only happened because of Dean. They met because Olyphant was doing the spinoff. That put them into each other's orbit. She's actually a fan of the new show. Furthermore, Olyphant is just really good looking. Claire understands and enjoys that frequently. It's a relationship that does throw Dean off a little bit. He's always believed that Claire was suppose to be his love interest in this new workplace setting. Her being with Olyphant actually reaffirms his belief that there's still a shot at something happening between them. This episode does spend a lot of time talking about Claire instead of actually being present with her. But the few moments she does have are great - especially the scene that reveals that Olyphant is getting the message that Dean is sending through Kimmel.

All of this is further complicated by the fact that a reporter is following Stewart around to actually write a story about him for once. It's something that Stewart is really excited about at first. He's used to being in the background behind Dean's fame. So, this opportunity is so flattering that he doesn't think of how nefarious it could be. It spins out of control rather quickly too. Stewart's life just isn't exciting enough to be written about. He just wants to do his job in a quick and effective way without needing to create frivolous and over-the-top work. That's Dean's job. He's all spectacle while Stewart is about the law. But the reporter was never really interested in Stewart. He's instead using this as an opportunity to write a smear article about Dean and just how bad he is at this job and destroying the law firm in the process. Dean certainly does become fixated on the need to impress Claire with this case and ruin her relationship with Timothy Olyphant. But this is a great spotlight episode for Stewart as he attempts to stand by his brother. He doesn't want this article to come out. That's a huge change for Stewart. Even though Dean's tendencies annoy him and he has apparently moved into his house, he still loves his brother.

That brotherly love is enough to win out in the end as well. Stewart does attempt to conceal the truth from Dean a little bit. He just allows him to continue on this path of being a detective instead of a lawyer. But the truth does come out eventually. It's heart-warming to Dean to know just how much Stewart is willing to do for him. That's the heart of the show. The relationship between the brothers has gotten so strong. It doesn't keep the reporter from writing the article. It does shift to being about Stewart. But it praises him as a saint for being able to put up with Dean for as long as he has and still manage to get work done and hold onto a profitable business. That is impressive. But it's also played for a laugh because Dean isn't as upset by this criticism as the rest of the family first thought. When he does shed tears, they are ones of love for his brother instead of sadness over himself. That shows that Dean respects everything that his brother does for him. He's even willing to embrace bad press to show it to him. Besides, he truly does believe that any kind of press is good press.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Olyphant in the Room" was written by Sean Clements & Dominic Dierkes and directed by Gail Mancuso.
  • Timothy Olyphant suggests getting his own parking space at the law firm's office. That sounds like a wonderful idea because it means he'll keep making regular appearances on the show. Plus, that running joke about backing up between Dean and Timothy was great.
  • Apparently, neither Dean nor Todd like math all that much. That really isn't that surprising.
  • Also, Dean doesn't like Debbie's cooking either. He makes that perfectly clear when he's trying to comfort her after Stewart angrily leaves the dinner table.
  • The reporter was a pretty small character in this episode. The story was more important than the actual character which did lesson its effect a little bit.
  • Stewart believes that anyone should be able to tune into an episode of television and be able to understand what the premise of the show is. He couldn't with The Grinder when the rest of the family turned on a random episode which featured Dean being able to pull out facts from nowhere.