Back row, left to right: Charlie Hume (Mason Adams), Margaret Pynchon (Nancy Marchand), Dennis "The Animal" Price (Daryl Anderson), Adam Wilson (Allen Williams), Art Donovan (Jack Bannon). Front row, left to right: Lou Grant (Edward Asner
), Joe Rossi (Robert Walden), Billie Newman (Linda Kelsey).
This is an hour-long drama that was a spinoff of the comedy-drama The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Ed Asner
reprises his role of Lou Grant from there.
After the Grand Finale
of The Mary Tyler Moore Show,
Lou is now in Los Angeles
using his gruff managerial talents to manage a newspaper. He manages to keep his character, in both senses, for five seasons of this.
- The Alcoholic: While played for laughs in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the tone becomes serious here, as Lou's drinking problem at times is referenced. At one time, it becomes deadly serious when he is arrested for drunk driving and has to attend a drinking driver's school to get his license back.
- Author Filibuster: Many Lou Grant episodes dealt with social issues, but it did not come off nearly as preachy as Quincy.
- Badass Grandpa: Lou Grant has four grandchildren, one of whom is deaf.
- Bald of Awesome: Lou Grant
- Benevolent Boss: While Mrs. Pynchon, Charlie Hume, and Lou Grant all had gruff and demanding demeanors, they were all passionate about journalism and preserving its integrity.
- Bittersweet Ending: Several, including when Charlie Hume accepted his son's decision to join the Hare Krishnas.
- Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Pynchon
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lou Grant and his reporters ran into quite a few of these during the course of the series.
- Da Editor: Lou Grant
- Downer Ending: Lou and the others did everything they could to help an elderly man preserve the apartment building murals he lovingly dedicated to his deceased wife, but despite getting a court order against demolition, they could not stop the wrecking ball.
- The Eponymous Show:
- A Father to His Men: Lou Grant
- Fictional Document: Lou Grant and his cohort work at The Los Angeles Tribune.
- First Name Basis: Lou, Charlie, and Billie.
- Five-Man Band:
- From The Ashes: After Lou Grant and all his co-workers are fired from the station in the finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou survives and thrives as the city editor of a busy Los Angeles newspaper — and maintains his humanity and integrity throughout the series.
- Hanging Judge: Lou Grant is held in contempt of court and thrown in jail when investigating reports of a ruthless judge.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Joe and Billie are undercover in a motel room. Joe starts watching porn on the TV. Billie starts making comments about how silly it is, and how none of it is remotely erotic. Then she stops, tilts her head, and says "Now that's erotic."
- Hey, It's That Voice!: With a name like Mason Adams, you know it's Smuckers.
- Hostage Situation: The Trib newsroom was held hostage in the appropriately named episode "Hostages".
- Intrepid Reporter: The hallmark of the show. Lou Grant and his reporters braved everything from organized crime to corrupt politicians to natural disasters to bring the news to the people of Los Angeles.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Lou Grant is one of the very few quality television series left that has yet to be released on DVD.
- Last Name Basis: Rossi and Donovan.
- Los Angeles: Lou Grant is the City Editor of the Los Angeles Tribune.
- MAD: Lou Grouch.
- Mythology Gag: The character of Flo Meridith, Mary Richard's Aunt and a very respected newspaper reporter, was the only MTM Show character to appear on Lou Grant. A running gag during the sitcom episodes had Flo making snide remarks to Lou about being in "trivial" television journalism instead of "real" newspaper journalism. On her first of two appearances on the drama, she congratulates Lou on finally returning to his newspaper roots... although she implies the Trib isn't exactly the most respected newspaper around, thereby keeping their friendly feud alive.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Dennis "Animal" Price looks like an unfocused slob, but is an award-winning photographer.
- One Name Only: "Animal" Price is virtually always referred to by his nickname.
- Playing Against Type:
- The character of Lou Grant itself was built on comedy (from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), but now was made serious. Ed Asner won critical acclaim for his interpretation of the character in both lights. (And yes, there were still plenty of lighter moments on the show.)
- Emilio Delgado, who concurrently played Luis on Sesame Street, had a recurring role as Rubin Castillo, the international editor. Although he is generally genial (albeit focused), it is the fact that he had a role on a primetime TV drama concurrently with his role on Sesame Street that makes the trope work here.
- Police Are Useless: Many of the problems faced in Lou Grant were too complex to be handled by the police, who were often hamstrung by some flaw of the system.
- Red Shirt Reporter: In episodes that involved natural disasters.
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: Barney, Mrs. Pynchon's yappy Yorkshire terrier.
- Screwed by the Network: Despite having significant enough ratings in its last season to be renewed, CBS abruptly cancelled the show due to controversies created by Asner in using both the series and his presidency of the Screen Actors Guild as political soapboxes to protest the U.S. government's intervention in El Salvador.
- Shown Their Work: Often, real-life problems are showcased with outstanding attention to detail.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
- The Smurfette Principle: Billie, not including the matriarch Mrs. Pynchon.
- Spin-Off: Lou Grant's character was largely unchanged since his departure from the Twin Cities via the The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- The Seventies: From building interiors, to Animal's attire, to episodes like "Sect", Lou Grant is clearly a creation of the seventies.
- Technology Marches On: Averted in one episode in which the computer-using City Room reporters make snide remarks about the one old timer who insists on using a typewriter... just before a city-wide power outage.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Mrs. Pynchon.
- A Very Special Episode: Every episode.
- Welcome Episode: Fresh from his firing at WJM Minneapolis, Lou Grant relies on his old friend Charlie Hume to secure a City Editor job at a busy Los Angeles newspaper.
- You Look Familiar: Linda Kelsey played a relative of Sue Ann Nivens on one episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show before taking on the regular role of Billie Newman.