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‘Grounded’ takes to the airwaves again, this time on the WB

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Times Staff Writer

Like the recent failed theatrical release “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?,” the title of the sitcom “Grounded for Life” seemed to be serving as its own epitaph last September after Fox, disenchanted by its meager ratings, decided to put the third-year series on hiatus.

The show, which follows the wacky domestic predicaments of the blue-collar Finnerty clan, had a core audience of faithful fans (primarily a male-skewing, 18-to-34 crowd), but the overall numbers were skimpy, and Fox, with “American Idol” waiting in the wings to fill the time slot come February, grounded “Grounded.”

That’s when rival WB entered the picture. The network, which was shopping around for a comedy to pair with its top-rated sitcom, “Reba,” on Friday nights, thought the Fox series might make a good match, and voila, “Grounded” is back tonight with a pair of new episodes sandwiched around singer McEntire’s show.

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The first installment, “Drive Me Crazy,” airs at 8:30 and is an example of the series at its best, with family patriarch Sean (Donal Logue) secretly sabotaging the efforts of daughter Lily (Lynsey Bartilson) to get her driver’s license. Sean wants to delay the inevitable out of concern for her safety as well as the well-being of any other poor soul who might be on the road when wild-child Lily is driving, and a fantasy sequence of his worst fears is an unqualified hoot.

The second episode, “Just Like a Woman” (9:30), isn’t quite as strong, but thanks to the uniformly amusing cast of Megyn Price as wife Claudia, Jake Burbage and Griffin Frazen as sons Henry and Jimmy, and especially Kevin Corrigan as Sean’s troublemaking brother Eddie, it has its moments, as Sean finds his masculinity questioned after a flat-tire incident.

“Grounded for Life” will regularly occupy the 9:30 p.m. Friday slot on the WB, but after what it has been through, the series is happy to be anywhere.

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