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The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season 3
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TURN THAT DIAL TO WJM-TV FOR A THIRD SEASON OF LAUGHTER! In its third season, this groundbreaking comedy explored topics previously taboo on network television. Deftly woven in with the hilarity of the busy newsroom and repeated outrageous attempts by Marys friends to set her up with Mr. Right came episodes dealing with divorce, meddling parents, self-esteem, and the inevitable mid-life crisis when one fears that life has somehow passed them by. But this classic comedy pulled off these subjects with humor, style and wit, reminding viewers why they identified withand lovedthe WJM-TV gang so much.
In this third season, Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), she of the "bright smile and infectious vivacity," got to display some of that celebrated "spunk" of hers. In the seasonopener, "The Good-Time News," she demands to be paid the same amount of money as her predecessor. In "The Georgette Story," she defies her boss, Lou Grant (Ed Asner), and vainglorious anchorperson Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) by counseling Ted's new girlfriend, whom he takes for granted. And in "Romeo and Mary," she finally stands up to an overzealous suitor (guest star Stuart Margolin), which hilariously backfires on her.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show endures because its timeless comedy is drawn from the wellspring of its fully drawn characters, who were allowed to grow beyond one-note caricatures. Mary's best friend, Rhoda (Valerie Harper), who was in danger of becoming this series' Sally Rogers, really blossomed this season. In "Rhoda the Beautiful," the slimmed-down Rhoda is empowered to enter a beauty contest, and in "My Brother's Keeper," she catches the eye of Phyllis' (Cloris Leachman in an Emmy-nominated performance) brother, which devastates Phyllis, setting the stage for yet another disastrous Mary Richards party (and a dénouement that must have been daring in 1973). Wise-cracking Murray (Gavin McLeod) reveals new depths in "Murray Faces Life," in which he sinks into depression after hearing that a former college classmate has won the Pulitzer Prize. Even Ted manages to surprise. In "Operation: Lou," a hospitalized Lou Grant finds a new appreciation for Ted, who graciously and uncharacteristically, presents him with an expensive bottle of scotch. Moore, Harper, and Knight were each honored with Emmys this season. Joining this august core ensemble is Georgia Engel as Georgette, who makes a delightful first impression in "Rhoda Morgenstern: Minneapolis to New York." Even hard-boiled Lou softens in her presence. "You're a real cutie, you know that?" he tells her in "The Georgette Story." Despite Lou's insistence to the contrary in "The Good-Time News," The Mary Tyler Moore's job was to make people laugh. But it could also be surprisingly moving, as in the laugh-free dramatic climax of "Remembrance of Things Past," in which Mary is reunited with an ex-boyfriend (Joseph Campanella), who has broken her heart in the past. This three-disc set contains no extras, but any of these episodes can take a nothing day and suddenly... well, you know the rest. --Donald Liebenson
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The Season Three that comes in the complete series set has inserts for all three discs which keeps them safe. But, the replacement stand-alone Season Three has all three discs piled on top of each other with no inserts for them. Go figure. Two plastic prongs were broken and the discs spilled out in shipping. Unfortunately, seems one can only get good quality by ordering the entire series, although even then, we did have that problem with Season Three in the complete series set and two of the same discs. Hope that's clear.
Compared to the prior seasons, and even the seasons thereafter, there seems to be a drop in the writing quality in many of the episodes. Also, there's some noticeable voice-over work on a few of the episodes (i.e. a few lines re-done in the studio). Overall, sound and image quality on the DVD transfer is good, and unlike the prior seasons' DVDs, you don't have to fish through multiple levels of menus to play an episode and then move onto the next.
Perhaps the stand-out star from the cast -- even with a drop in scriptwriting quality -- is Valerie Harper (Rhoda). The episode where she describes her vision for the Christmas window decorations for the department store has got to be one of the best examples of physical comedy. It's a good season to have in the movie library -- not my favorite season -- but a solid addition. Looking forward to seeing Season 4, whenever the price drops to a fair price again :)
I will speak here about the Mary Tyler Moore show. A perfect oasis of great writing (Who uses words like "rotten" now?), and great acting, and a perfect ensemble, not to be matched until Brooks' "Taxi", and "The Simpsons" after that. James L. Brooks has always excelled in comedy based on real character, and how said characters interact. Who can forget the unbreakable group hug in Mary's final show? At this writing, only the first four seasons of MTM are available on DVD. The clarity of the video makes the show look more handsome than ever. The acting, particularly that of Edward Asner and Ted Knight, is top-notch. In the third and fourth season, we meet new characters like Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), and Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel) Seeing these two in their prime defies describing how sweet that is. The only reason I didn't give five stars to seasons 3 and 4, was the lack of special features; commentaries, interviews and the like. We need the input of directors like Jay Sandrich, and writers like David Lloyd, who wrote the sixth season classic, "Chuckles Bites The Dust". Until the sixth season is released, the best available episode is season 3's "It's Not Whether You Win or Lose", where the WJM crew are snowed in, and a poker game happens where Murray loses much money (we learn that Murray is a compulsive gambler in this episode), and to get it back, he wagers Ted double or nothing that he will not pronoune the name, Ideko Kawasaki properly. This is what good, laugh out loud, character comedy is all about. Oh, and don't forget to check out season 4's "Better late (that's a pun) Than Never", where Mary and Rhoda are up late doing obituaries, and they got both funny and creative on one obituary that had to be used before it could be changed. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a program that every serious student of comedy needs to study, and eventually own. ILFT having all 7 seasons.
You will, too. Meow.