Ed Asner’s Best Mary Tyler Moore Show Episodes - VRGyani News and Media


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Ed Asner’s Best Mary Tyler Moore Show Episodes

Critically acclaimed and illustrious actor Ed Asner passed away last week, prompting long-time fans, admirers, and colleagues to reflect and praise Asner for all of the brilliant contributions he made to storytelling across film, television, and theatre. With over 400 acting credits to his name, Asner’s work has connected with people of all ages. While some might associate him (and his voice) to more recent projects such as Up, Dead to Me, Cobra Kai, and of course, as Santa Claus in Elf alongside Will Ferrell, he is most well known for portraying Lou Grant, the boss of the Six O’Clock News team on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, The Mary Tyler Moore Show follows the misadventures of associate producer Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), her friends Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), her coworkers Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), and their boss, Lou Grant. Asner’s short-tempered boss character was so popular that he got his own spin-off simply titled Lou Grant. Though it was the same character, it had a completely different tone—rather than being a half-hour sitcom, this was an hour-long drama. Asner won 7 Emmys in his career, 3 of which he won for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and 2 he won for Lou Grant.

While it’s impossible to highlight all of Lou Grant’s best moments over the series’ 7 seasons, here’s a list of some of his most memorable episodes.

“Love Is All Around” (Season 1 Episode 1)

In the pilot episode of the series, the audience meets the lovable Mary Richards, who’s settling into her new life in Minneapolis. Mary’s a driven, bright-eyed, young woman determined to make her mark in the highly competitive broadcast news industry. She arrives at the WJM-TV news station, where she hopes to fill the secretarial position (the assumed role for women in the 1970s), only to find out that the job has already been filled.

Lou Grant, the disgruntled, no-nonsense producer, sits down and interviews a jittery Mary anyway. Lou’s line to Mary, “You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk,” during their unconventional conversation has become one of the most iconic lines in television history. Despite his difficult demeanor, Lou saw potential in Mary, and hired her as an associate producer, a role beyond her wildest dreams. Mary’s optimistic go-getter attitude contrasted brilliantly with Lou’s grumpy personality, resulting in countless hilarious interactions with Lou, Mary, and the rest of the Six O’Clock News team, including head writer Murray and bumbling anchorman Ted, over the course of the series.

“The Boss Isn’t Coming to Dinner” (Season 1 Episode 21)

Mary, Murray, and weatherman Gordy (John Amos), are back in the office after attending Lou’s daughter’s beautiful wedding over the weekend. Lou is uncharacteristically peppy in the office, and explains to Mary and the crew that, now that their last child moved out of the house, him and his wife Edie (Priscilla Morrill)finally have time to themselves. Mary excitedly invites Lou and his wife over for dinner, but is discouraged when Lou continuously finds excuses as to why they can’t come over. The office morale is at an all-time low. Mary is frustrated after finding out that Lou and his wife have been to everyone’s house but hers, and suddenly Lou is more miserable than he has been all season. A fed-up Mary calls Mrs. Grant directly, only to find out the real reason why they won’t come to her house for dinner: they’ve separated.

Lou typically doesn’t want anyone else’s opinions clouding his thinking, but in this episode, he actually seeks advice out from Mary and invites her for a drink after work. Mary feels a bit out of place listening to her male colleagues talk to Lou about marriage, but in typical Mary fashion, she sticks up for herself and speaks her mind before heading home. By the end of the episode, Lou realizes Mary was the only one with constructive advice, and decides to call his wife. Not only does Lou get back together with Edie, but also invites Mary over for that long-awaited dinner.

“The Square-Shaped Room” (Season 2 Episode 13)

Lou’s marriage is a bit shaky in Season 2, and while his wife’s out of town, he wants to redecorate their living room and surprise her. Mary is horrified when Lou tells her that he enlisted his friend—who decorates army barracks and bus stations—to transform his home, and suggests he hire an actual decorator instead. After hearing that Mary’s friend Rhoda was up to the challenge (and could offer him a discount on new furniture), he invites the two women over to see what Rhoda has to work with. Rhoda quickly realizes that she might’ve bit off more than she can chew, as the Grant living room is a square shaped, outdated, and cluttered disaster.

Rhoda’s pretty anxious the entire episode, as she has to figure out a way to both redecorate Lou’s living room while sticking to his specific requests (muted colors, light and airy, inexpensive...but not cheap). The big reveal toward the end of the episode is, well, bright. Lou cannot wait to see his new living room, but is understandably horrified when Rhoda flicks on the light to reveal that the room is white. Not just the walls, but everything in the room. Lou does his best to hide his true feelings by performing an over-the-top positive reaction, only to confess his horror to Mary. The studio audience can’t help but erupt with laughter as they try to keep up with Lou’s rollercoaster of emotions.

“The Baby-Sit-Com” (Season 2 Episode 18)

All Lou wants is to sit back, relax, and watch the big fight that’s on television with a buddy. Unfortunately for him, Murray has concert plans, and won’t be able to come over, and Ted isn’t free either (even though Lou never asked). Mary is looking forward to babysitting Phyllis’ daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen), but is put in a difficult spot when musician and old flame of Mary’s, Sandy (Joshua Bryant) is in town for his concert and invites Mary along. After encouragement from Bess, Mary agrees to go on the date, as long as she finds a babysitter. After calling several friends and even a babysitting agency, Mary is completely out of options. She calls Lou to see if he knows anyone, and is surprised when Lou himself agrees to babysit, (as long as he can watch the big fight, that is).

This episode is a treat for audiences as we get to see Lou outside of the office and out of his element. When he arrives at Mary’s, all he cares about is the fight, but after the match ends rather quickly, he’s left with no other choice but to spend time with Bess. At first, Lou doesn’t have much to say to the little girl, and tells her he really doesn’t care what she does to keep herself occupied, as long as it doesn’t involve lighting matches. By the end of the episode, Lou shows his softer side and bonds with Bess by baking cookies and playing cards.

“Operation: Lou” (Season 3 Episode 13)

Lou’s taking a week off of work to have surgery, but doesn’t want anyone to make a fuss. After Mary takes a call from his doctor, she realizes that Lou isn’t going on vacation, but is having surgery to remove a piece of shrapnel stuck in him from World War II. Lou lets Mary tell Murray about the top-secret surgery, but Ted accidentally overhears their conversation.The last thing Lou wants is a hospital visit from Ted Baxter.

At first, Lou is beyond frustrated when Ted goes out of the way to visit and care for him post-surgery. But, Ted’s thoughtful gestures, (which include gifting Lou a special bottle of Scotch, bringing him a TV, and even reading to him), make Lou realize that maybe, just maybe, he can be a little too hard on Ted at work. The two share some sincere moments together in this episode, and Lou starts to realize that not only does Ted see him as his best friend, but that Lou might actually be one of his only friends.

“Lou’s Place” (Season 3 Episode 16)

When the owner of Lou’s favorite bar passes away, he jumps at the chance to buy it and become the new owner. After everyone in the office declined his offer to invest in the bar, his only other option is to accept Ted’s financial contribution. Lou and Ted quickly realize that owning a bar is a lot harder than it looks, and have trouble getting it to be as lively and packed as it used to be. A sulking Lou visits Rhoda and Mary, and explains that in order for the bar to be successful, he had to be lovable, a word that isn’t exactly thrown around when describing Lou.

The second half of the episode shows a side of Lou that neither the customers nor the studio audience were expecting. Lou morphs into an overly friendly guy, personally greeting every customer, repeating everyone’s names out loud and even orchestrates a sing-a-long to create a sense of laid back camaraderie. Mary, Rhoda, and the rest of the patrons are beyond uncomfortable watching Lou veer so far out of his comfort zone. Finally, Lou can’t keep up the warm and inviting charade and the tough Lou Grant we know and love from the news station takes over. The studio audience howls with laughter as he demands his now-frightened customers to sing loudly and have fun.

“Happy Birthday, Lou!” (Season 4 Episode 15)

It’s Lou Grant’s birthday...and he doesn’t want anyone to find out. Mary starts to put the pieces together once she notices Lou received some birthday cards at work, and excitedly asks him what his plans are for his big day. Even though it was his birthday, Lou didn’t have anything planned, and he wanted to keep it that way. Mary being Mary, she couldn’t bear seeing her boss go home to an empty house without having any form of celebration. Despite her pleas to throw him a party, Lou refuses to be in any sort of spotlight. He agrees to stop by Mary’s after work for a quick drink, but no party.

Mary’s odd behavior during Lou’s visit made it easy for him to catch on to the fact that at any minute, there was going to be a big surprise party for him. Once everyone arrives at her door, she keeps them in the hallway so as to not frustrate Lou on his birthday. One by one, Mary convinces Lou to let in a few guests, only to admit that he hates surprise parties because he doesn’t know how to handle any form of affection or attention. Lou’s ability to speak so openly to Mary and the rest of the news team, along with the great lengths everyone went to celebrate Lou, shows just how much these characters trust and care for one another.

“Lou and That Woman” (Season 5 Episode 4)

Mary notices that Lou hasn’t been himself. Instead, he’s been open minded, agreeable, and singing around the office. To make everything even stranger, Lou traded in his typical khaki and rolled up sleeves for a bright yellow turtleneck and velvet green jacket. What’s gotten into Mr. Grant? Lou was in love with a woman, and that woman was Charlene Maguire (Sheree North).

In this episode, Lou lets his insecurities get the best of him, and reveals that maybe he isn’t as confident as he may let on. Charlene was a popular lounge singer, and as she explained to Mary, had been in way more relationships than Lou had ever been in. Rather than admitting he was intimidated by Charlene and was afraid of not being good enough for her, Lou let Ted and Murray’s demeaning comments about his date get the best of him. In the second half of the episode, Lou was a shell of the man he was in the beginning. Mary convinced Lou that he shouldn’t let the men from Charlene’s past get in the way of what the two of them have now. Thanks to Mary, Lou musters up the confidence to apologize to Charlene for his cold behavior, and to ignore anyone’s opinions on their relationship. The episode leaves the audience with an important message: don’t worry about what other people think.

“Neighbors” (Season 5 Episode 13)

Some people like to keep their work life separate from their private life. Well, in this episode, it becomes nearly impossible for Mary to do just that. Frustrated with living alone in a big house that's in constant need of repair, Lou decides he’s going to finally sell his place and find a small, cozy apartment for one. Bess overhears Lou telling Mary about his living situation, and encourages him to move into Rhoda’s now-empty apartment, much to Mary’s horror. Sure, Mary loves to spend time with Lou...at work that is. The thought of having her boss live in the same apartment building as her felt like a recipe for disaster.

Lou, on the other hand, can't find one flaw, explaining to Mary that the two single friends never have to be lonely. The lines between work and home quickly blur when Mary’s hospitality gets the best of her, and she invites Lou to use her TV while she’s out on a date. He gets so comfortable in her apartment that he falls asleep on her couch. When Mary’s date tries to wake him up, Lou sleep-punches him in the stomach.

“Edie Gets Married” (Season 6 Episode 1)

Mary and the news crew grow suspicious when they find out that Lou is out to lunch with his ex-wife, Edie. They’re even more suspicious when Lou brings her to the office to tell everyone the big news: she’s getting remarried and Lou couldn’t be happier for her (so he says).

Mary’s always been able to read Lou’s emotions, and this was no exception. She knew Lou was lying about being happy for Edie when he started spending more time down at the bar than usual. Things get even more complicated when Edie invites him to her wedding. Lou isn’t quick to open up about how he’s feeling, and decides it’s best if he locks himself in his office. His daughter manages to get through to him, and convinces him to attend the wedding. Things get even more complicated once Mary admits she doesn’t think that Lou can emotionally handle the wedding. In the end, Mary goes and supports Lou as he faces the harsh reality that Edie was officially moving on without him. It was one of the more poignant episodes of the series, as the mighty boss had to grapple with rejection.

“Lou Dates Mary” (Season 7 Episode 23)

For the entire series, in between spending time in the newsroom, Mary is busy going on lots of dates in the hopes of finding the one. After yet another date goes wrong, she wonders if her ideal man even exists. She explains her frustrations to Ted’s wife, Georgette (Georgia Engel), and details the type of guy she’s looking for. “Someone who doesn’t care how I look because he’s more concerned with who I am. Somebody strong and intelligent, who respects me, who I can respect, who has gentleness in him.” Georgette explains that Mary already knows the man that ticks all these boxes, and that man is Lou Grant.

Initially, Mary dismisses Georgette's suggestion. “Me date Lou Grant? That’s ridiculous.” But after a brief moment of thought, Mary wonders if Georgeotte could actually be right, and knocks on Lou’s door to find out. What’s usually a comfortable interaction between the boss and Mary quickly turns a bit awkward, as the two admit that, perhaps, they did have feelings for each other. Lou can’t quite wrap his head around why a woman like Mary would want to date a man like him, but after thinking it through with Murray, he builds up the confidence he needs for their big date. When Lou shows up to Mary’s for dinner, the two good pals suddenly don’t know how to act together. They fumble their way through awkward banter, and bump into each other in the kitchen. While Mary and Lou realize that they might not have a love connection after all, this episode (the second to last of the series) highlighted an important element of the show: the power of friendship.

Ed Asner’s masterful performances will live on and continue his legacy for generations to come. Do yourself a favor, and watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is available to stream on Hulu.

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