The new fall season: On Fox, chemistry, plots subject to failure - Catholic Courier

The new fall season: On Fox, chemistry, plots subject to failure

NEW YORK (CNS) — A number of familiar stars figure in the latest offerings from Fox. But the new shows’ mixed pedigrees — their casting or thematic antecedents reach back, variously, to a “Full House,” “The West Wing” of the White House and the morgue where Jack Klugman’s “Quincy, M.E.” once toiled — yield equally uneven moral and aesthetic results.
 
“Grandfathered,” Tuesdays 8-8:30 p.m., premiering Sept. 29
 
John Stamos has made a lengthy career out of portraying characters emotionally stuck between adolescence and adulthood. In this comedy series, he carries on that brand, but to mixed results. Stamos plays Jimmy, a 50-year-old bachelor and restaurant owner seemingly immune to moral maturity who discovers in an instant that, 25 years ago, he unknowingly fathered a son, Gerald (Josh Peck). But the real jolt to Jimmy’s ego comes with the news that Gerald himself has a child (also born out of wedlock). With grandfatherly responsibility calling, Jimmy’s carefree days are over. Since the show’s plot is based on characters’ participation in premarital and even casual sexual encounters, it is by definition problematic fare. Yet the program also offers a sometimes funny and compassionate commentary on the importance of family bonds, albeit as they exist within a setting created by skewed values. And Stamos and Peck shine as a father and son struggling to find common ground. Accordingly, at least some adults may find the process of winnowing through the positive and negative elements harvested here worthwhile.
 
“The Grinder,” Tuesdays 8:30-9 p.m., premiering Sept. 29
 
In perhaps the most absurd comedy on Fox’s fall lineup, Rob Lowe plays Dean Sanderson, a celebrated actor famous for playing an attorney on a popular television program. Dean takes a hiatus from show business to spend time with his brother, Stewart (Fred Savage), a competent but self-conscious real-life lawyer. The comedic pulse of the series — Dean imagines he can translate his portrayal of a legal eagle into a ready-made role in the family firm, led by his dad, Dean Sr. (William Devane) — is meant to be driven by the contrast between the two leads. Their lack of chemistry, however, makes this an anemic exercise, though a relatively inoffensive one for young audiences. Savage still has the resources to carry a series, but his talents are wasted here. “The Wonder Years” alum deserves a better project.
 
“Rosewood,” Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., premiering Sept. 23 
 
Not for the squeamish, this drama series stars Morris Chestnut as Dr. Beaumont Rosewood (or “Rosie,” as he’s called), a Miami pathologist with a unique eye for postmortem crime-solving. Though it undoubtedly borrows from predecessors like “NCIS” and “CSI,” “Rosewood” still manages, at times, to find a rhythm — and voice — of its own. And Chestnut, always a fascinating actor, possesses an innate charisma that’s fun to watch. But parents should take note: the program prominently features a lesbian couple, while Rosewood’s profession is, by its nature, too dark a subject matter for young audiences.
 
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Heffron is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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