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As a 25-year-old woman, it's a shame that the so-called "feminist icons" of my day have been klutzy, man-hungry ninny Ally McBeal and tabloid wench Paris Hilton. I've really come to envy women who had real feminist heroes, real or fictional, such as Gloria Steinem, Bea Arthur as "Maude", and, of course, Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" isn't just an excellent sitcom with perfectly realized characters, but it featured an imperfect but winning heroine that any woman could look up to. Mary was a sweet-natured thirty-something who alternated between being high-strung and confident. She happily lived alone and had a loyal gal pal in smart mouthed New Yorker Rhoda (the incomparable Valerie Harper). Mary also was an associate TV producer at the low-rated WJM news network, where she had the respect of her male co-workers, including her arch-conservative boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner), wisecracking but tender-hearted work buddy Murray Slaugher (Gavin McLeod), and buffoonish anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Not that everyone loved Mary... she constantly had to deal with her insufferable, overbearingly perky landlady Phyllis (Cloris Leachman). When Phyllis was written out of the show, WJM's "Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens (flawless Betty White) replaced her as Mary's foil. Passive-aggressive and sex-starved, Sue Ann was a hilarious combination of Blanche from "The Golden Girls" and Harriet Nelson. Best of all, the show had running gags that somehow never went stale: Mary's tendency to attract the wrong men, her disastrous dinner parties, Ted's slips of the tongue on the air, Lou's annoyance at being the lowest-rated TV network, and Rhoda's quest for the perfect husband. An addictive show that didn't wear out its welcome in its seven year run, "MTM" is a shining example of great writing, fully developed characters, and perfect casting that has never been equaled. It was a show with spunk... we need spunk!
This truly was one of the first ensemble driven situation comedies in the
history of television. Even though Mary Tyler Moore was the star of the
show, the fact was that the series truly revolved around her relationships
with not only her friends at home, but her friends on the job and when those
two worlds collided, sparks usually flew. Also, this show was really funny
when Valerie Harper was still on the show playing Rhoda. She and Mary were
polar opposites (Mary the cheerful optimist and Rhoda the angry cynic).
However, those differences was what made their relationship shine. Cloris
Leachman was also perfect as the over bearing Phyllis Lindstrom. And lets
not forget the other characters; cynical Lou, the optimistic Murray and, of
course, dimwitted Ted Baxter. This show definitely one of the all time
classics and made Saturday nights worth staying home.
Another interesting fact about this show is the fact that it debuted during the final season of the original series about a single woman trying to make it, "That Girl". However, while Ann pretty much was still an innocent little girl at heart that had a boyfriend and often still relied on him and her parents to get her out of jams, Mary Richards proved that she could be single and live her life on her own terms.
For the longest period of time, I couldn't understand the appeal of "The
Mary Tyler Moore Show". Having caught the occasional episode every now and
then, the series struck me as being somewhat "ordinary" in nature. However,
at the beginning of 2002, I began to watch the series on a regular basis,
right from it's first season and found to my surprise, what a funny,
insightful and entertaining sitcom it was.
Mary Tyler Moore deserves kudos for her portrayal of Mary Richards, a ground-breaking character who was allowed to be her own person (a rare thing for female characters on television in those days). An intelligent, independent young woman in her 30's, whose wasn't "hung up" on not being married, and enjoyed her life and her career. The rest of the cast also deserve mention for their memorable performances. Ed Asner as the gruff, yet lovable Lou Grant (Mary's boss at WJM-TV), Valerie Harper as the sharp and sassy Rhoda Morgenstern (Mary's best friend and next door neighbour), Gavin Macloud as the witty & thoughtful Murray Slaughter (Mary's fellow work mate at WJM), the late Ted Knight as the self absorbed and talentless Ted Baxter (who "anchored" the news in more ways than one at WJM-TV) and Cloris Leachman as the flighty and somewhat over-opininated Phyllis Lindstorm (Mary's other next door neighbour and friend).
The show was fortunate enough to benefit from first rate scripts from talented writers such as Jim Brooks & Allan Burns (both of whom created the series), Treva Silverman, David Lloyd, Bob Ellison and Ed Weinberger.
Along with solid direction from vetran TV sitcom director Jay Sandrich (of "I Love Lucy" fame), it comes as no surprise that the series was both a critical and commerical success during it's seven year run on US television from 1970 to 1977. The show also benefited from later additions to the cast such as Georgia Engel as the sweet natured, yet rather naive Georgette Franklin (who was introduced into the series as a love interest for the idiotic Ted Baxter) and Betty White as the conniving & man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens (host of "The Happy Homemaker" show at WJM-TV). On screen, she is the image of domestic knowledge and bliss, but once the camera's have stopped rolling, she is a woman on the prowl, striking at any man within distance (single or otherwise) who grabs her fancy!!. Earning a whole swag of Emmy Awards, the show was highly praised and rewarded for it's stellar efforts. I recommended those who are unfamiliar with the show to watch the series from the beginning, to appreciate and understand the nature of what it's all about. The humour is natural and witty (unlike many other sitcoms where the laughs are either forced or over-the-top). The characters grow and change over the years (once again unlike many other comedy shows), and the series itself contains it's own warmth and natural charm. Check it out and see why this lady can still turn the whole world on with that smile ...
The backstory: Mary Richards moves to Minneapolis, MN, specifically into an apartment with a sunken in living room. She applies for a job at a local television newsroom with high aspirations. The show not only deals with situation comedy, but with how a woman could "make it after all" in a male dominated workforce. Mary becomes close with her newsroom family, from tough-love boss Lou Grant to bumbling news anchorman Ted Baxter. She also deals with wacky neighbor Phyllis and of course, wise cracking Rhoda. The show is great because you care about all the characters and while funny, it can still deliver a strong message. Truly one of the best shows on television.
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" is absolutely my FAVORITE television show
of all time, with "The Dick Van Dyke Show" falling a hair behind. I
love all the characters of the MTM show...they all had great lines, and
those actors knew how to deliver. Mary Tyler Moore exemplified true
sportsmanship in making this whole show a wonderful example of COMPLETE
ensemble acting. Every character had his/her shining moments, time and
time again. I was about nine when this show debuted, and truly grew up
with it. I used to hate Ted, because he was so unbelievably stupid.
However, now that I've spent twenty or so years in the work world, I
have had the complete displeasure of working with Ted Baxters
everywhere....so many who rise to their level of complete incompetence.
And over the years, in watching reruns, I have come to fully appreciate
Ted Knight's genius in his portrayal of Ted Baxter. The episode in
which Mary is simply feeling completely down in the dumps...her
motivation is gone for no apparent reason, other than the fact that she
has hit a slump (a "new apartment" episode). Ted Knight's portrayal of
Ted Baxter imitating her in her slumpy condition, and repeating the
whole scene with identical dialog but with a completely different
attitude, basically showing Mary that she has to appreciate what she
has in life, and look at it all with a different, positive perspective,
was sheer comedic genius at its finest.
The final episode of this series portrayed my comment about Corporate America very realistically, and the episode itself is one for a time capsule....just bottle it up. Ditto for the "Chuckles the Clown" episode...and for the "Veal Prince Orloff" episode. Actually, I'd love to put all of MTM's episodes, along with those from the Dick Van Dyke Show, in a time capsule and send them into space. Nick at Nite should run episodes only from MTM, the Dick Van Dyke Show, Bob Newhart, and The Wonder Years. That is all that that station needs, and I'm sure that the ratings would go through the roof. But back to Mary....her show was a brilliant gem that graced the world of American television, and no other show will ever hold a candle to it....EVER. Yes, Seinfeld was funny, and "breakthrough", in being a show about nothing, and it even offered phrases that entered our vernacular. But it missed the one key element that MTM had in spades...heart. The Seinfeld show, as funny as it always was, really never made you cry or pulled at your heart strings...ever (other than maybe making you cry from laughter). The MTM Show, on the other hand, combined humor, drama, reality, the absurd, the sublime, and a lot of warmth all rolled into one magnificent, shining, seven-year love-fest for our pop culture, and I thank Mary for giving us this bright light. In a comic strip that was published I believe just the Sunday after the last episode aired, a man was depicted throwing his television set out his window, crying. The cartoonist captured the national sentiment quite beautifully. I miss Mary and her gang to this day. Thank goodness for the complete DVD set.
As i am writing this review (February of 2011), i have been watching all the episodes of the MTM show nonstop actually for some time now although i m just midway through season 5. I live in Greece and although we do love our US TV shows here too, Mary Tyler Moore was not exactly our icon through the 70's especially if you consider all the problems my country was going through at least up to 1974. I m 31 now (born in 79), and i ve known of MTM for quite some time and was always aware of the show and had heard from a lot of American friends and the web of course that the specific show was somewhat of a TV legend or a "sacred cow" especially for the people who watched it while it was on the air, and you know what?? I couldn't agree with them more! I LOVE THIS SHOW! i cannot find one thing that i don't like no matter how hard i try. i ve been laughing or at least smiling nonstop for 5 seasons now something that has happened (to me at least) only with a couple of shows p.e. Friends, Will and Grace. The feel of it, the look, the theme song, the opening credits, the characters, the actors (OMG!), and of course the writing. Quick, sharp, very very funny and with some subtext in a lot of cases considering the era! One thought that has occurred to me is that Mary Tyler Moore is the least egocentric actress in her or any other lifetime. I ve never seen an actress as famous as her, with her own show by the way, that didn't at some point sooner or later become obnoxious or cocky or have the writing serve her look or status. (God bless her but Lucille Ball take a bow!) Concluding i would like to say that it is incredible for a show to stand the merciless test of time (40 years!), and in 2011 i m proud to say that i d watch reruns of the MTM show any day than spend time watching some trash reality show about putting your hand in a box of cockroaches with order to win money. and you know what? i might just make it after all !
I always enjoyed The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The characters were all funny,
especially the goofy fights between Ted Baxter and Murray Slaughter. Lou
Grant ("I hate spunk!") was always good for a laugh, especially the episode
where he ended up drunk on Mary's doorstep!
Of course, the real two stars of the series were Mary Tyler Moore (duh) as Mary Richards and Valerie Harper as her best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern. My all-time favorite episode is the second one, where the two host a small gathering at Mary's apartment for two potential suitors, and everything goes wrong!
A true classic, and it earned every Emmy it got.
Right up there with the Dick Van Dyke show, in fact directed by some of the same people, this is another great sitcom. It seems they come along once a decade or so, and this is definitely a great one. Mary Tyler Moore is the newly liberated woman at work, dealing with all the same sexist stuff she dealt with in 1961 on the Dick Van Dyke show, but in a totally different way. The supporting cast is marvelous, from Ed Asner to Valerie Harper (as 'Rhoda') to the irrepressible Ted Knight as the vain news anchor. Hysterical stuff.
Mary Tyler Moore - a great comedic actress & a great long running
sitcom. This show was incredible. The writing always seemed to set up
funny situations. The pace of the show was just perfect.
Where & how did they get so much talent in one cast? Besides Mary, there is Gavin McCloud who is brilliant as Murray Slaughter. Ed Asner is the same as Lou Grant, Mary's boss. Where did they find Ted Knight? Ted Baxter is one of the great send-up characters of all sit-Com's & Knight played him brilliantly. Knight made it big with this series, went on to his own series, Too Close For Comfort, & also scored big in the original CADDYSHACK.
Then, the is Rhoda & Phyllis who spun from here into their own series. While their series were not as good as this one, they definitely contributed to this one. Let's not forget Betty White as the indomitable Sue Ann Niven. This show was good enough to her, & she played her character brilliantly. This was her springboard for Golden Girls later. She is even better than this.
Not only did Mary turn the world on with her smile, she widened the world a lot by introducing a lot of great character actors in their best career roles. This show could be touching & sentimental at times as well. This show has it all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I tell people ,what I'm about to tell you here,they look at me and
go "You can't be serious!" "You're kidding right?" or "No way!" What it
is,is that before this summer,when "Me-TV" came to channel 7.2 here in
Phoenix,I had literally in my 43 years of living,had only seen "10"
episodes of this series!
Why? Well,from 1970 to 1977 I was only age 2 to 9,so it was beyond me then (I did see the opening credits but that's all.) In 1980/1981,the show was rerun here in Phoenix & I saw only the pilot show,and about 4 others. The film then was scratchy with lines and age & the sound was terrible. It was then gone from local TV here for 20 years & I had no cable.
Fast forward to Aug. 2001,and I caught 5 shows on TV Land (at 6am!) on my apt. complex's clubhouse TV. Got to see Ted & Georgette get married,Lou's apt. get decorated badly by Rhoda,Murray shove Sue Ann into a big cake and Chuckles bite the dust and the finale.
Now,2011. Ten years later,thanks to ME-TV having the show on 5 nights a week (formerly 7),I'm finally getting to really appreciate what a fine work of sitcom art this show was and still is. Some humor might be a touch dated but it's still funny and in terms of Ted Baxter,just downright hilarious.
Mary Tyler Moore made the seamless transition from wife Laura Petrie to independent professional woman Mary Richards. (4 years between helped also.) Mary is not just this but also holds very natural human qualities and frailties as well. This makes her character 100% likable and relatable. Not just to women but anyone. I love her in the early 1970 Christmas show where she has to work alone at the station on Christmas Eve.
Rhoda is the perfect counterpart & friend to Mary. The two compliment each other greatly on screen. Behind the scenes and on the show,the chemistry of friendship is very real. Seems too bad in a way that they took her to her own show but people watched that too.
Murray is delightfully sarcastic to Ted and a great friend to Mary and Lou. Lou Grant is the epitome of the boss but with a heart (despite trying to hide it). From Show #1,Ed Asner made it apparent what his character is all about.
Ted Baxter (the brilliant,late Ted Knight)is a pompous,egotistical,self loving egomaniac with the maturity of a high school boy . He's also a blundering buffoon on the air. As only Ted Knight could have played it. Why Georgette loves him is mystery but as she said,"Someone has to" .
Georgia Engel is fantastic here too. I always did like that unique voice of hers.
You gotta love & hate Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens "The Happy Homemaker". Always pretty much on the make for Lou and always acting like a perfect 1950s TV housewife who escaped from a TV,only to land in 1974.
Part time character Phyllis (also got her own series) is one half snob and second half know it all. Before Sue Ann,she also had a tendency to needle Mary about her single status and sense of style.
Even though I've now only seen about 50 of these shows,I can honestly see why it won so many Emmys in the 1970s. Every actor is true to their character and every character has the "real" or "human" side to them,that makes them likable. Yes....even Ted Baxter.
Anyone who feels this is "not" a classic,does not know all that goes into making a sitcom. Not just making it funny but making it believable to the audience (and the critics). The actors have to believe themselves as these people as well and for what little I've seen,it's all A+ acting,writing and producing & great comic timing.
It may have started 41 years ago and ended in 1977 but quality (in any form of entertainment) never goes out of style. 10 stars for the whole cast and crew,bravo....and Meow. (END)
Edit : On July 2nd,2012,finished viewing all shows on DVD.
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