The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season 5
DVD | Box Set
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Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Valerie Harper. Mary doesn't miss a beat a she enters the fifth hit season of her beloved series. Centering around the fictitious WJM-TV, the fun and frolicking continue in the newsroom and in all the personal lives of the staff. Includes 24 episodes on 3 DVDs. 1974-75/color/9 hrs., 41 min/NR/fullscreen.
There is comfort television, and there is consummate television. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is the gold standard, and without any Very Special Episodes (but plenty of very special moments), stunt casting, or a season-ending cliffhanger, this multi-Emmy-winning fifth season is a master class of ensemble acting and character-based comedy. So indelible are these characters by now that half the fun is anticipating how they will react in comedically ripe situations. How will Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), who cries that she never even had to stay after school, adapt to jail after refusing to reveal a source in the Emmy-winning episode "Mary Goes to Prison"? How will old school newsman Lou Grant (Ed Asner, earning his third Emmy) handle Ted (Ted Knight) after Ted endorses a candidate during his broadcast in "You Sometimes Hurt the One You Hate"? And how will skinflint Ted react when he learns that Lou has recklessly gambled away their football pool winnings in "The System"?
Valerie Harper is missed as Rhoda, but the show wisely did not try to replace her with another sidekick for Mary. Instead, episodes this season further flesh out these beloved characters. Sue Ellen (Betty White, who was honored with her first Emmy) reveals her vulnerability in "What Are Friends For?" Lou falls for a lounge singer with an active past (guest star Sheree North) in "Lou and That Woman." But Ted, happily, is still clueless, thoughtless, and egotistical, whether spreading gossip that he and Mary are having an affair ("An Affair to Forget"") or proposing to Georgette (Georgia Engel) on the air ("Marriage Minneapolis Style"). Mary Richards is an iconic character, the poster woman for what Cloris Leachman's Phyllis calls "the era of the single girl" in her Emmy-winning turn in "Phyllis Whips Inflation." A character and show of this stature certainly deserve better than this set's bare-bones release. Three years elapsed between the releases of season 4 and season 5. Talk about cliffhangers; "Chuckles Bites the Dust" awaits in season 6. --Donald Liebenson
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The joy of a good ensemble comedy is the fact that you do have good strong characters to build upon. Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) is still living in her one room apartment next to neighbor Phyllis (Cloris Leachman, who only has four episodes this season). Her work life seems to overtake more of her personal life. For example, boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner) moves into Rhoda's old apartment at one point. Ted's (Ted Knight) girlfriend Georgette (Georgia Engel) stops by to visit on a more regular basis. Heck, even happy homemaker Sue Ann (Betty White) shows up quite a bit more. And good ole Murray (Gavin MacLeod) is by Mary's side every day at work.
As with the previous seasons, this show features some classic episodes. My favorite is "Not a Christmas Story," which finds the gang snowed in and mad at each other. Absolutely hilarious stuff. Lou turns into a softy after he throws Ted through a door. Murray struggles with his feelings about only having daughters. Mary gets a promotion to producer and tries to go it alone with the news. Sue Ann almost gets replaced by a much younger fan. Phyllis tries to find a job after a bad economy destroys the family budget. And in another favorite, Ted finally asks Georgette to marry him, in the middle of the 6 o'clock news.
Even when this show gets serious, like the season opener with finds Mary facing jail time for not revealing a source, it never forgets it is a comedy. There are plenty of laughs.
Of course, the writing and the acting are all top notch here. You couldn't ask for a better cast, and they truly bring these characters to life.
As other have noted, the big drawback to the set is the packaging itself. The shows are on 3 discs. They could look a little better, but I don't think they are any worse than the other seasons have been. We get no extras, but we didn't for the last two seasons. What is unforgivable is no episode guide. How can I find my favorite episode without it? True, I can look it up on line, but that's annoying. Additionally, they cut out the disclaimer voice over from "The System," one of my favorite bits from that episode.
So the set itself loses a star. But the episodes are still timeless and funny. Since this is probably the best we will ever get, if you are a fan, get this set. You will certainly enjoy the core content.
On the evening of Friday, August 16th, I was sitting in the studio audience when they taped the episode where, with the excuse of buying a piano, Murray contemplated having an affair with Barbara Barrie. I saw it all - the apartment, Mr. Grant's office, etc. Even now (30 + years later), I will never forget that night. So PLEASE RUSH OUT THAT DVD (and the subsequent years). Many years later, Mary Tyler Moore appeared at Borders here in NYC to autograph copies of her book, AFTER ALL. I waited in line and just as I got to her, her pen ran out of ink and I got a few moments to speak to her. I told her how I had been listening to the radio that morning where the DJ's were kidding her about seeing her for the first time on TV LAND and NICK AT NIGHT. I told her how I had gone all the way to California to see her tape an episode of the show. "Really?" she smiled (Oh, THAT SMILE). "You must be a real fan." I told her I kept the ticket (framed) and told her the date and what the episode was about. She really laughed and said, "Boy. You are even a bigger fan than Rosie O'Donnell!" My shining moment.
How many shows or personalities can have this effect on so many people? Well, this show has and as I've almost worn out the DVD's from the first four seasons, I can not wait until I get my hands on this one. Hey. Amazon. Can we pre-order?
The shows are priceless, the quality of full screen does not excite me, but still, the content is pure fun. Worth the price of admission.