Tomlin and Fonda still have comedy chops, and Grace and Frankie gives them, particularly Tomlin, killer lines to deliver (as one would expect from a comedy begat from the creator of Friends). "Wow, I must have half the beach in my vagina," says a game, underwear-less Frankie, straightening up from the peyote-laced beach-side dark night of the soul that takes up a delightful hunk of the first episode. Later, she interrogates a convenience-store clerk, demanding an impossibly specific cigarette recommendation: "What brand would you smoke if your husband turned out to be gay?" "Newports," he replies. "For twenty years?" says Frankie. "Luckies," the clerk corrects himself.
The tone can shift a little strangely from fast-paced one-liners to emotional fireworks, but it's easy to forgive with such appealing actors. Tomlin and Fonda are as wonderful as ever together, but Sheen shows a surprisingly deft hand with comedy, playing a restrained man who suddenly has a very public private life. Even the supporting players are choice: Ethan Embry as Frankie and Sol's newly sober disappointment of a son, and the veteran Mary Kay Place, who shows up as a friend of Frankie's. The show isn't perfect, but it's enjoyable, meaty stuff, ideal for watching with viewers who may have been laughing with Tomlin and Fonda for decades.