Lou Grant: s05 e08 – Friends

The fair Noelle

This episode started very fuzzily, as if it didn’t really know what it was or how to introduce its story, but once it had started to roll, it became increasingly powerful and, for its two principal characters, painful.

The two principals were Joe Rossi and Art Donovan, each at the centre of a separate syory, with no overlap, each of which in their differing manners revolved upon the subject of friendship.

We were introduced first to Rossi, early morning jogging with his old cleege friend – practically his only friend – Burton Cary (Larry Breeding). Cary’s a former lawyer turned politician, runing for election as County Supervisor. Cary’s a good guy, caring, thoughtful, progressive, on the right side of all the issues. Joe respects Cary’s principles as well as liking him: his election will be A Good Thing especially as his opponent, Ralph Shillitoe (Paul Kent) is a right wing creep on everything.

As a friend, Joe disqualifies himself from reporting on Cary’s campaign. As a friend, he’s close to the campaign, meeting and asking out Cary’s junior aide, Noelle Kilmer (Jennifer Holmes). But the fair Noelle is already seeing someone from the Sheriff’s Depertment, though she hopes she and Joe can still be friends.

We can see what’s coming in this story, even if we don’t know what form it will take.

Meantime, Art is struggling with his twin roles of Assistant City Editor and Environmental Editor, especially as Charlie Hume is pressurising him to get a piece on Acid Rain ready for Sunday. At the same time, columnist Jerry Hollister (Logan Ramsey) is hunting round for a piece for his next column. Art gives him a theme that puts the two in opposition. When Art needs a clip when he’s on deadline, Hollister has it and won’t give it up so Art goes and gets it.

Next thing is, Hollister arrives with an arm in a sling, claiming Art hit him, shoved him, sprained his wrist and gave him a bad time, causing his blood pressure to shoot through the roof. He’s going to sue Art Donovan – and the Trib.

It’s a try-on, a nuisance suit. Mrs Pynchon won’t wear it for a moment, sue and be damned. But in the meantime, Art is to be removed – temporarily, of course – as Environmental Editor. A gesture, a sop, a bone. And a kick in the teeth for Art who has put so much into building up the Trib’s environmental coverage.

Art’s version of the story was that he grabbed Hollister by the collar, saw the clip he needed and let Hollister go. But no-one else was there, though Mrs Pynchon, passing by, heard raised voices and threats. Which one is telling the truth? No-one knows. No-one will know. But Art is punished. And what’s more he learns the object lesson that no-one, not one of his friends, believes his story. Everybody thinks he could have done it.

Friendship, eh?

But back at Joe’s story, Cary’s campaign hits a big stroke of luck as Shillitoe, an ex-Disc Jockey, is arrested for poseession of cocaine. And then the chargesare dropped on the tecnnicality of an illegal Search by the Sheriff’s Department.

Who hate Shillitoe because he wants to cut their budget. Who’ve recently seized a shipment of cocaine cut with baby laxative. To the exact formula as the 7 oz. found at Shillitoe’s home. Which is 7 oz. light. Which was found there by the officer going out with the fair Noelle. An officer under investigation. And he hasn’t got the brains and she’s too junior. And she’ll do anything to see Cary elected.

So Joe confronts Cary on their morning job, and he admits to knowing about it. It’s Politics. You’ve got to play hardball in the real world. After all, it won’t come out if Joe acts as a friend instead of a reporter. Cary’s his closest friend.

It’s an awful decision to have to take but Joe takes it, weighing up the good that Cary can and will do against the good he has to be if he’s to be granted the powers of a County Supervisor. He gives the story to Tyler to write up. And invites Art to jog with him the next morning…


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