Thursday, March 27, 2008

'I'm Calling From the Trib'

I was delighted to find that Hulu, the television networks' remarkable answer to YouTube, includes the first season (22 episodes) of "Lou Grant," the newspaper-centered series that ran for five seasons and ended in the middle of my college journalism studies.

If you're of roughly my vintage, you might enjoy Tony L. Hill's Canonical Lou Grant Episode Guide (founded in 1995, just like The Slot!). That's where I stole the screen grab above. Bannon's character, Assistant City Editor Art Donovan, was smart, funny, well dressed and, in a goofy-kid-stuff way, my journalistic role model. (Bannon's mother, I just learned, was Bea Benaderet, an actress whose claims to fame include being the voice of Betty Rubble.)

The saga of Lou, Art, Joe Rossi, Billie Newman, Charlie Hume, Animal and the other staffers at the Los Angeles Tribune is one of the series I've been waiting in vain to see on DVD, so this is a special moment for me. A second special moment came when I searched to confirm that the series still isn't on DVD: Although that's still true, Amazon does offer low-cost downloadsof episodes from the first three seasons (you can also buy a season at a time). So, if your favorite episode is from Season 1, it's free on Hulu. If it's from Seasons 2 or 3, it's a couple of bucks at Amazon. (Tony Hill tells me Lou also shows up on iTunes.)

Unfortunately, the following episode is from Season 4:

EPISODE 71 - Nightside (22 September 1980)
Written by: Michele Gallery; Directed by: Gene Reynolds

SYNOPSIS: Lou takes a turn filling in on the night shift and sees an unusual side of the paper.

UPDATE: I'm finally getting around to watching. Here's a bit of plus ca change dialogue:

Art Donovan: "Mrs. Pynchon is very interested in endangered species."
Lou Grant: "Yeah. That's why she owns a newspaper."

That aired on Jan. 3, 1978.


Unknown said...

I started watching "Lou Grant" again on Hulu, too.

It holds up pretty well, I think.

It brought back pleasant memories of paste-up (remember the waxer?) at my community college paper, followed by watching "Lou Grant" at a staffer's house.

Jeff said...

Watching "Lou Grant" has been on my to-do list since I watched a couple of episodes on MySpaceTV a few months ago. Unfortunately, I tend to get distracted and then forget.

As a current student in journalism school, it's really interesting to watch how newspapers used to work and how much they've adapted since. As a fan of TV, though, it's amazing how they took a character from a successful sitcom ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and transitioned him into a successful drama. Kudos to the writers on that one.

Mel said...

I rushed right over to Hulu to check on that, since I've been meaning to watch the first season, too. I'm still able to -- perhaps they just expired from your queue? I'm not sure how the whole thing works. I also was able to start watching ep. 1 without signing in, so if all else fails, try signing out and watching :-)

Unknown said...

The first season might be ample. My recollection is that the series jumped the shark into Quincy-like preaching alternating with stories in which old personal friends of the staffers turned up and were then in peril. The first season, however, was quite good, IIRC. And I'm going to head to hulu tonight and see IIRC.