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Emmy Talk: ‘The Grinder’ Fred Savage on the Joy of Improv (and Why He’ll Never Stop Grinding)

·Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Entertainment
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One of the most brutal cancellations TV fans endured last month was that of Fox’s brilliant comedy The Grinder. Starring Rob Lowe as Dean, a former TV lawyer who comes home and tries to practice real law with his actual-lawyer brother Stewart (Fred Savage), The Grinder was, quite simply, the funniest new network sitcom in years.

While many of the laughs came from Lowe’s portrayal of Dean — the “vulnerable monster of self-delusion” according to Yahoo TV’s Ken Tucker — some of the funniest moments were courtesy of Dean’s long-suffering, perennially-frustrated brother Stewart. It could have been a one-note sitcom straight-man role, but thanks to Savage’s performance — marked by subtle eye-rolls, tightly-controlled exasperation, and truly impeccable comic timing — Stewart became a foil worthy of Dean… and worthy of an Emmy nomination.

Savage dropped by Yahoo TV studios to talk about his favorite scene from The Grinder’s far-too-short run. In episode 3, “The Curious Disappearance of Mr. Donovan,” when Dean falsely identifies a mole in the family law firm, Stewart makes it his mission to get the Grinder to admit he was wrong. But first, he needs to keep fellow attorney Todd (Steve Little), from alerting Dead that Stewart is on to him. What follows is a hilarious, Who’s on First?-style dance of confusion that was largely improvised. “It was originally a much shorter scene,” recalls Savage. “We just started riffing and… coming up with this dialogue in the moment.”

Speaking of which, Savage says he and Lowe will be ready at a moment’s notice to reprise their Grinder roles should some savvy network or streaming service decide to save the show from cancelation. “Just because the show has been canceled doesn’t mean we’re going to stop grinding,” he says. Watch the video below for more from Savage on The Grinder’s cancelation… and then start lobbying Netflix on Twitter!

The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14. Stay with Yahoo TV for complete Emmy coverage.


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