Monday, December 16, 2013

Lou Grant

Now that I'm done with the Mary Tyler Moore Show I've moved onto watching Lou Grant. It really is fascinating that the character of Lou Grant starts out on a half-hour sit-com and ends up on an hour-long drama.

I watched even less of the Lou Grant show when it was first aired than I did of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which probably accounts for why I had this impression the Lou Grant show was only on for a very short time. It was on for five years, and the fact that it was an hour long show means that it will actually take more time to watch the entire run of Lou Grant than it did to watch all MTM episodes.

So far I've watched the first seven episodes of LG and it's pretty good. Of course it's so quaint to see a show about putting out a physical newspaper - and in fact the opening credits shows the life-cycle of the physical paper, with a wry, irreverent spin: from logging the wood to the printing press to delivery to reading over morning coffee to the paper's final fate of lining the bottom of a bird cage.

It's clear that these first episodes of LG are very influenced by the movie "All the President's Men" which had been released just a year before the first season of LG in 1977. In fact I think at least a couple of the guys in the story conference room were the same guys in the story conference room in President's Men - and I know that Robert Walden, who plays the reporter Rossi in LG portrayed one of Nixon's "ratfuckers" in ATPM.

In his new show Lou Grant mentions almost nothing about his former life, referring to Minneapolis a few times and once mentioning how abruptly he was fired (everybody in the newsroom but Ted Baxter was fired in the last episode of the MTM show) after being there for 9 years - he says 9 years on the Lou Grant show, but several times on the MTM show it's mentioned he worked for WJM-TV for 11 years. When you watch all the episodes of a show in a short period of time, you notice things like that.

I really want to find out more about the cancellation of the Lou Grant show. I remember that at the time it happened, the word was that it was cancelled because the network didn't like Ed Asner's leftist politics - I remember Mother Jones ran a cover article about it, but don't remember reading the article.

I plan to order Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama and find out more.