Lou Grant: s02 e16 – Sweep

The latest episode of Lou Grant was about immigration, or to be more specific, illegal immigration, Mexicans ccrossing the border to find jobs in LA.

The human story fronting this was about Rosa, favourite waitress in a Mexican food joint patronised by Lou, Billie and Rossi. Rosa has two kids, aged 10 and 5, and is picked up in a sweep by ‘La Migra’, the Immigration Service. Our trio start by being concerned for the kids and ensuring they’re well looked after, which leads them into the world of illegal aliens.

The problem is that, despite the A story being framed around the search for the kids, and the climax being firstly that Rose is back straight away and secondly is reunited with her kids, the drama doesn’t do enough to establish itself as drama. We are watching the equivalent of a drama-documentary, before the term was coined, and the episode is so determined to show all sides of the issue that the human element never comes through on a personal level.

Rather more is done to humanise the rather feeble B story that fills out the episode. Mrs Pynchon wants her eighteen year old niece and potential heir, Tiffany (guest star Maureen McCormick), to learn the business from the bottom, starting as a copy girl in the newsroom. Tiffany’s attractive, a bit inflated in her attitude to her lowly role, but a hard worker and very effective, albeit in a limited way. This is because Tiffany can’t read. So she plans to run away, until her Aunt persuades her to take the difficult step of learning at her age.

It’s trivial, and the importance of the story is typified by how little space is given to it, but it has more personality than the main story, which was where the episode, or rather the issue, lost its way. Better next week, I hope.

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