Lou Grant: s03 e24 – Hazard

Another series comes to an end, this time with a bit of a jumbled ending as the various aspects of the story failed to completely gel, and once again the question arises as to wthether it might not be time to take a break. Hold that thought.

‘Hazard’ used the familiar A-and-B story format to run in tandam two stories of minimal relatedness and weight. The B-story featured Dave Marcus (Philip R. Allen), a bright, witty top-notch editor brought back west from the Trib’s Washington Bureau to head up the National Desk. Marcus got in well with everyone except Charlie Hume. Did this have anything to do wth his being talked up as Charlie’s successor as Managing Editor? Though this was red-herringed at us, it was just personal dislike but it made for much concerned gossip when Charlie abruptly sacked Marcus.

You,me and the gatepost knew it was because Marcus had been fiddling his expenses long-term, but Charlie did the decent thing and kept schtum on the reason, despite the damage it did to his reputation. Only at the end did Lou know, let in by Betty from Accounting who was also suppsedly sworn to secrecy, and even then Charlie’s maintaining that it was between him and Marcus only, and it was.

The A-story was also about money, in the end. After Lou witnesses a young lad come off his motorbike, he puts Rossi onto investigating the model, which the industry regards as a joke, a single flawed product from an otherwise reputable and reliable Company.

At the same time, in what was almost a C-story, Billie was assigned to cover the release from prison of a minor Washington bureaucrat imprisoned for unspecified crimes, and staying completely mum about what he did and what his book about what he did is going to be about. This seemed an oddly detached and slender aspect to the episode but it was there to provide a contrast to the A-story.

Because Rossi, digging deep and digging hard, locates senior design engineer Paul Kramer (Tom Rosqui) who not only confirms the design flaw affecting the bike’s braking but that management have decided that it’s more cost effective to settle insurance claims for injury and death than to recall and fix the product. Moreover, he’s got the memos but, because they will make his job precarious, refuses to release these without payment of $4,000.

Mrs Pynchon refuses. The Trib will not indulge in checkbook jurnalism, that’s absolute. A desperate Rossi takes out a bank loan at 21% interest to put himself in serious financial trouble by paying it personally, but Kramer double-crosses him and sells the story elsewhere.

Rossi, personally extremely pissed off as who wouldn’t be, attends a Company Press Conference at which Kramer is put forward to defend the bike’s design. An Executive plays on his sense of betrayal to get him to reveal his source, but though Rossi thinks Kramer stinks, his principles are paramount: he keeps Kramer’s name hid.

As for that C-story, it turns out that the bureaucrat’s book is to be serialised in, of all places, the Trib. For $70,000. Lou takes Mrs Pynchon to task over what he sees as double-standards but which she tries to distinguish as something else entirely. Not very convincingly.

So we’re here at the end of season 3. The Thursday slot was originally intended for older series, looking back, and short run series at that. There are 44 episodes remaining over the last two seasons, more than any other series I’ve watched in this slot in total. Over the next week, I’m going to consider whether to work straight on or to substitute something else, just for a change. In the current COVID-19 crisis, spending mst of my time indoors alone, I’m getting more than a bit tired.

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