Lou Grant

Season 1 Episode 4


Aired Monday 10:00 PM Oct 11, 1977 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
7 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Lou and the editor of the women's section of the paper engage in a turf war by proxy as their respective reporters, Joe Rossi and Billie Newman, clash over whether the death of a prominent New Mexico playwright is murder or suicide. At the end, Billie is offered a chance to move up from the "Today" section to the "City" staff.


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  • Doghouse

    This episode is a little closer to the bottom of the list for me. The degree to which Lou pursued and had near-misses with the Irene character felt a bit contrived, almost to the point of being ridiculous. I like how the story of the murdered writer was developed, and how it touched on the affects of depression and the trouble dealing with personal failure, but the way Rossi antagonized the sheriff during the press conference seemed a bit odd and unrealistic.

    Also, having the cat solve the mystery of the missing keys right on cue was just downright silly. It felt like they foreshadowed the hell out of the cat during the whole episode just for that one scene. It was also hard to fathom Rossi's complete 180 change of heart in accepting Billie's contribution to the story, given the character's established lofty ego. Equally so was Irene's change of heart about Lou at the end, considering what a lout he was prior to their kitchen rendezvous.

    Billie's introduction to the series in this episode played off well - she seemed like she fit right in immediately. It would have been interesting to see the dismissal of the Carla character handled in some way other than just disappearing with no explanation, though.

    I loved the scene toward the end between Lou & Art Donovan where they roast Rossi behind his back with Donovan's line about Rossi sharing a byline with Billie being the closest he'll ever come to intimacy with a woman, and break character briefly as actors with real laughter. It's a very funny line, and Ed Asner seems to genuinely break down, which cracks up Jack Banner while he's trying to deliver his next line, and for the duration of the scene, you can see Jack struggling to keep it together. Love those moments - there are several in the series, most of them set off by Ed Asner cracking wise to see if the other actors will break. I'm sure most of those scenes end up on the blooper reel or the cutting room floor, but they actually leave some in, which I think contributes to the show's charm.moreless
  • Generally a strong story, good examples of competing agendas and personalities within the context of the series.

    An apparent murder in Arizona interests the paper after "Lifestyles" section reporter Billie Newman phones in the information while covering an arts festival.

    This is one of the better episodes as far as relationships, some things don't work as well as they could but it's still pretty good overall. While I enjoy Lou and the head of the lifestlyes division of the newspaper clashing violently (the contrasts are well-drawn), I have a hard time believing the time invested in showing Lou chasing her before he knows her true identity. It meshes poorly with Lou as shown in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". A fan of the show might wonder where Carla went (she has simply vanished), but will quickly forget it when Linda Kelsey shows up. There is a good sense of antagonism between her and Rossi that is portrayed nicely right from this first episode.

    Despite the fact that the news industry in the late 70s/early 80s had lots of interesting issues on its own, this episode follows the usual "Lou Grant" formula of involving the reporters in the story - too bad as the normal conflicts of interest could stand on their own without Newman and Rossi "solving" the mystery of the dead author here. But the acting is strong overall, it's good to actually see a workplace where a city editor can be so politically incorrect as to constantly refer to the "women's section" and still be a part of a process of getting the job done.moreless
Claudette Nevins

Claudette Nevins

Irene Mott

Guest Star

Geoffrey Lewis

Geoffrey Lewis


Guest Star

David Starwalt

David Starwalt


Guest Star

Gordon Jump

Gordon Jump

National Editor

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

  • NOTES (2)

    • Notice the background actor: male, about 6'2", red hair, and lime-green shirt who gets into too many scenes unchecked. It's the director's job to make sure all scenes have continuity, hence the use of background actors to be in specific places during each take of a scene. However, sometimes an actor hungry for screen-time will sneak into as many scenes as he/she can, which spoils continuity.

      Such is the case with Mr. Redhead here... during the very first sequence, we first see him walking away from the camera behind Lou and Irene Mott after they bump into each other after Lou gets off the bus. Then he's seen again coming from the side street a block up walking behind Lou where Lou is standing right after he blows his first chance to talk to Irene. Lou starts walking, then the actor pops back into the scene AGAIN and starts following Lou. But that's not the end of his screentime... not by a longshot. After Lou bolts out of the cafe trying to find Irene, he looks to the right - there's Mr. Redhead/Greenshirt walking away from the camera under the Diamond Buyers sign... no Irene, so Lou looks to the left - there's Redhead/Greenshirt again walking TOWARD the camera! What a tour de force! Oh but wait! Just one more: as Lou stands there in a close-up shot dejected over losing Irene in the crowd, Redhead/Greenshirt pops in AGAIN right behind Lou at the last second! AGAIN coming from the opposite direction! Then we fast-forward to the Tribune offices where Lou and Irene arrive at work. And who do we see walk right in front of the entrance? Yep. Hilarious.

    • Producers decided that Rebecca Balding as reporter Carla Madigan was not carrying her weight on the show compared to Robert Walden. Leon Tokatyan, who developed the series and wrote the first episode, said "Walden chewed her up. She looked like she was going to break into tears any second." She was fired and the producers instead decided to promote the Billie Newman character, introduced in this episode, into a regular. They hired Linda Kelsey, who had originally been in consideration for the Carla Madigan role because of her work on M*A*S*H.