What’s Worth Watching: ‘Grandfathered’ and ‘The Grinder’ on Fox for Tuesday, November 3

Rob Lowe and Fred Savage in The Grinder
Ray Mickshaw/FOX
Rob Lowe and Fred Savage in 'The Grinder'

Grandfathered, “Edie’s Two Dads,” Tuesday, Nov. 3, 8/7c, Fox

 The Grinder, “A Bittersweet Grind (Une Mouture Amer),” Tuesday, Nov. 3, 8:30/7:30c, Fox

One of the unexpected benefits of a fragmented ratings universe, where nearly everything on network TV performs below expectations, is the patience being exhibited by programmers to keep alive some low-rated shows that deserve a chance to be nurtured in hopes of catching on. This is most definitely the case with the fall’s best-reviewed new comedy, The Grinder, and its more conventional but also appealing Tuesday companion piece, Grandfathered. Both sitcoms were recently picked up for a full season despite perilously puny ratings on a busy night. This would have been unimaginable just a few seasons ago, but given the marquee appeal of these shows’ stars and the positive media buzz, Fox clearly sees an upside in keeping them around for now. Good for them, good for us.

In this week’s episodes, each show welcomes high-profile guest stars: On Grandfathered, Joanna Garcia Swisher plays a pre-school admissions counselor Jimmy (John Stamos) meets when he steps in for little Edie’s interview. When she mistakes Jimmy for Edie’s dad and he perpetrates the innocent (though ego-fueled) lie, the situation escalates crazily from there. On The Grinder, Christina Applegate appears as Gail, a lost love from Dean’s (Rob Lowe) pre-Grinder past who reunites with the forlorn former TV star just in time to remind him that romance is still possible. Dean is one of the most original characters of the year, overdramatizing every aspect of his new life with his Idaho family and their law firm, and I’m thrilled we’ll get to spend more time with him.