Grandfathered Season 1 Episode 1 Review: “Pilot”

Grandfathered

In what has been quite a dire fall for new network series, sometimes all a show needs to be is charming, and “charming” is exactly the word I would use to describe Grandfathered. There’s nothing revolutionary or inventive about FOX’s new John Stamos-led comedy, but it works well thanks to some sharp, funny writing and an incredibly likable cast that features not just Stamos but also Josh Peck (The Mindy Project) and Paget Brewster (Community).

The events of Grandfathered‘s pilot go down pretty much as you’d expect: Gerald (Peck) arrives at Jimmy’s (Stamos) restaurant with his baby daughter, Edie, a child he had after a one-night-stand with his good friend, Vanessa (Christina Milian). In less than two minutes, Jimmy (and the audience) get all the details about how exactly Jimmy is Gerald’s father and thus how he is a grandfather to Edie, news that completely changes the 50-year-old bachelor and restaurateur’s world in the matter of seconds.

As I mentioned above, this is a story we’ve seen many times before, and pretty much all of Grandfathered‘s big “surprises,” from Jimmy running through the street to take Edie to the hospital to the reveal that Sara is the “Sushi” to his “Ponyboy,” are clearly telegraphed. Still, though, it’s material that is fun and enjoyable, especially when played so wonderfully by the likes of Stamos and Brewster, who are easily responsible for the biggest laughs of the premiere.

Grandfathered should also be admired for how quickly it establishes its world and the many characters that populate it. Not only do Jimmy, Gerald, and Sara all feel like real, fleshed-out individuals by the end of the half hour, but Jimmy’s assistant, Annelise (Kelly Jenrette), and the chef in his restaurant, Ravi (Ravi Patel), also possess distinct and memorable personalities that can be mined for comedic material without ever derailing the main story of this lonely man discovering what family really means.

That last sentence might sound a little schmaltzy (and the show kind of is), but Grandfathered uses enough restraint to make sure it doesn’t feel like 2015’s version of Full House (wait till 2016 on Netflix for that). It’s a solid combination of heart and humor that help elevate this series beyond its simple premise, making it my favorite comedy of this fall and one that I’m very eager to see grow and develop more in future episodes.

Other thoughts:

  • Brewster and Stamos have a really nice, easygoing chemistry that makes them easy to root for as a romantic couple. Similarly, Peck and Stamos make for a fun father/son duo.
  • The brief Bob Saget cameo is funny enough, but I’m not sure if Grandfathered will ever top the beautiful randomness that was putting Deion Sanders, Don Rickles, and Lil Wayne all at a table together.
  • Having Jimmy eating breakfast by himself in his quiet apartment near the beginning of the premiere and closing on the scene of him and his new family enjoying dinner in his fuller, music-filled living room, with him still sort of on the outside looking in, provides a nice symmetry to the episode.
  • Really hoping that Grandfathered avoids Gerald doing any type of spin on the Parent Trap plot now that he knows that Jimmy may still have feelings for his mother. If they’re going to get together, let’s have it happen organically.
  • I want to know more about Victor and White Victor. That simple line from Stamos had me dying of laughter.
  • Welcome to Grandfathered reviews! I’ll be giving my thoughts on every episode each week here at TVOvermind and hope you join me!

What did you think of Grandfathered? Did you enjoy it as much as I did, and will you be tuning in for next week’s episode? Comment below and let me know. 

[Photo credit: Erica Parise/FOX]

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