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The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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Me-TV is having a mini marathon (6 hours) of favorite episodes on Sunday. I was hoping they would run all 7 seasons starting Saturday. I'm a little disappointed.

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 MTM also showed her dramatic chops in her Oscar-nominated role in Ordinary People, in which she not only played against type, she gave one of her best performances ever.

I had read that her performance in that movie was much closer to her real personality than Mary Richards.  She was excellent.  So cold and unforgiving of her living son, but still sympathetic. 

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 Now, I wish we could ALL travel through one the 'colored MTM' titles to a world where she is still young and relatively healthy AND where few if any of our current woes exist.

If it makes you feel better, the 70s had a lot of problems that we don't have now, like rampant inflation, stagflation and some nightmare fashion choices. 

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On 5/28/2016 at 7:01 AM, Rinaldo said:

The first season of Lou Grant just appeared on DVD, with season 2 due in August. I think it was a terrific series and would love to talk about it. I was thinking of requesting a forum for it at PTV. But would I be the only one? Is anyone else here a fan of that drama, maybe even also buying the DVDs? This seemed the likeliest place to ask.

Speaking of Lou Grant, we watched the MTM show tonight for the first time in years, and picked the episode from Season 5 in which Sue Ann Nivens is threatened by an innocent young protegé--who turned out to be played by none other than Linda Kelsey. We didn't know that was coming. As soon as she appeared, we shouted, involuntarily: "Billie!!!"

I would look in on a Lou Grant thread if one existed, but more as a passive reader, because I'm not sure I would love the show now, even though we loved it then. It was a great show. But does it "work" now? Maybe.

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I've been going through the seasons as released on DVD (three so far, Season 4 coming soon), and sharing reactions in email with a longtime friend who saw it in first run as I did. We've both been reacting that the writing and acting is as good as we remembered, but some of the content has not worn well: afterschool-special-level naivety on some topics, surprising insensitivity on others. Many episodes are still top-level great ("Hollywood" in Season 3, for sure), but I've decided not to start a subforum for Lou.

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2 hours ago, Rinaldo said:

I've been going through the seasons as released on DVD (three so far, Season 4 coming soon), and sharing reactions in email with a longtime friend who saw it in first run as I did. We've both been reacting that the writing and acting is as good as we remembered, but some of the content has not worn well: afterschool-special-level naivety on some topics, surprising insensitivity on others. Many episodes are still top-level great ("Hollywood" in Season 3, for sure), but I've decided not to start a subforum for Lou.

Happy to know about the "Hollywood" episode. Seasons 1-3 are on Hulu (the same 3 that are on DVD; no coincidence I'm sure) and I see that "Hollywood" is Episode 12 of Season 3. The still-frame on the Hulu site is of Margaret Hamilton. We'll watch it. 

If other episodes on the worth-watching side occur to you, I'll want to know about those, too. Sometime in the last couple of years I dropped in on a Lou Grant, and the problem was partly what you identify, but that wasn't only it. It also just seemed too, I don't know, modulated and tasteful for our times, too quietly intelligent, in not enough of a hurry to tell its story. This distressed me, not because it meant anything about the show, but because it meant that television and changing times have changed me. How could a show I once enjoyed so much for all its exceptional qualities now seem like it was just lying there? The answer may be that changing times, and changing ways of storytelling on television, have reduced my attention span, and made me need something slightly more vivid--with more spikes or jolts per scene or something--in the realms of humor and drama.

The show might require an act of will to get into it before the rewards start coming. In the last couple of years I've made a "project" of the novels of Anthony Trollope. I'm loving it--it's not work now--he's amazing. But you have to recalibrate yourself as a reader to a more leisurely pace of storytelling. His subtle wit and keen observation of human nature and society get you through the first 100 pages, but you have to complete those before you start feeling propelled on your own through the next 700. Lou Grant, experienced in 2017, may be like that.

Edited by Milburn Stone
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MeTV is showing 3 hours on Sunday Jan 29th from 2 -5 pm EST. starting with the pilot and ending with the series finale. Not enough imo but something. The show should be a regular in their daytime line-up somewhere, not 12 am on Sunday mornings.

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I wish there was a list around of scenes that were cut for endless commercials. (maybe there weren't any...)

While I appreciate that the show matured in many intelligent ways in its last 3-4 seasons, I have to admit I will always love the early seasons most. I was watching the pilot again for the first time in probably over a decade and I was reminded again of just how good it is - consistently funny, yet with just the right moments of pathos when needed. 

They didn't air it but I also adore the episode with Mary's first disastrous dinner party ("Today I Am A Ma'am"). 

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On ‎1‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 7:54 AM, chessiegal said:

MeTV is showing 3 hours on Sunday Jan 29th from 2 -5 pm EST. starting with the pilot and ending with the series finale. Not enough imo but something. The show should be a regular in their daytime line-up somewhere, not 12 am on Sunday mornings.

Did MeTV actually do this?  The episodes never showed up in my DVR's Comcast listings.  I thought I was recording two MTM episodes early this morning, but despite the Comcast description, MeTV actually aired Car 54, Where Are You? instead.  Yeesh.  Fortunately, most MTM episodes appear to be available (with limited commercials) on youtube.

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2 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

Did MeTV actually do this?  The episodes never showed up in my DVR's Comcast listings.  I thought I was recording two MTM episodes early this morning, but despite the Comcast description, MeTV actually aired Car 54, Where Are You? instead.  Yeesh.  Fortunately, most MTM episodes appear to be available (with limited commercials) on youtube.

Yes - I recorded all of them. And must admit to shedding a few tears at the end of the finale. My husband wanted to see Chuckles Bites the Dust which they ran. Personal funny story why it hits home for us that I won't bore everyone with.

As far as I'm concerned, MeTV can ditch Momma's Family. I stopped watching after a few episodes.

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I'm so disappointed in Sundance. They used to show Bob Newhart on Wednesday mornings and MTM on Thursday mornings. Now it's Andy Griffin on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, with a little of Bob Newhart early Friday followed by some MTM. Boo! I guess I should be complaining to them, not venting here. I can get all the Andy Griffin and more on MeTV. 

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Virtually all the tributes to MTM played the clip of Mary Richards's mother (played by Nanette Fabray) telling her husband not to forget to take his pill and Mary mistakenly answering with him 'I won't'. However; while all the surviving cast members either interviewed, tweeted or just released statements re MTM, to the best of my knowledge the 96-year-old Miss Fabray has NOT (nor did was she known to utter a peep re Bonnie Franklin's death despite  also playing  Ann Romano's mother on that show).  Any word on how she is doing these days?

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Just did a Google search on Ms. Fabray but could not find anything about her health.  Until your post, I hadn't realized that she was still living -- and that, at 96, she was only 16 years older than her TV daughter, Mary Tyler Moore.

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@Rinaldo and others who may be interested: I've just submitted a New Show Forum Request for Lou Grant

I'll be checking to see if/when TPTB grant my wish, and will share the news here. (But if they do, and someone sees the forum before I do, please share the news here yourself. Thanks.)

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Glad to see others from the original MTM Show and Lou Grant era -- somehow I thought I knew all the MTM episodes pretty well from subsequent syndication, but I let the first season stream by today on Decade, and was surprised by how fresh some of the episodes were to me.  Had to look up a few of the guest stars:  Monte Markham still acting in his 80s, and Pat Carroll almost 90.   I had forgotten that the Lou Grant marriage woes began in the first season.  Of all the characters, I have always thought he underwent the greatest growth.  The Edie moving out and remarriage episodes are two of my favorites.  "Don't go" gets me every time. 

I was also a great fan of Lou Grant, and seeing the thread will likely move me to watch it again.  I don't remember "Hollywood," but must have seen it.  I think I have liked Linda Kelsey in every role I've ever seen, of course starting with the protégé MTM episode with Ron Rifkin. 

On ‎2‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 8:27 AM, Milburn Stone said:

@Rinaldo and others who may be interested: I've just submitted a New Show Forum Request for Lou Grant

 

On ‎1‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 4:55 AM, Rinaldo said:

I've been going through the seasons as released on DVD (three so far, Season 4 coming soon), and sharing reactions in email with a longtime friend who saw it in first run as I did. We've both been reacting that the writing and acting is as good as we remembered, but some of the content has not worn well: afterschool-special-level naivety on some topics, surprising insensitivity on others. Many episodes are still top-level great ("Hollywood" in Season 3, for sure), but I've decided not to start a subforum for Lou.

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Monte Markham still acting in his 80s,

Monte Markham was all over my TV in the 1970s, and I loved him!  I just rewatched the S1 MTM episode where he was a married globe-trotting journalist back to visit WJM who put the moves on Mary.  My gosh, he was hot!

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Just a heads-up: The new Lou Grant forum is up and running. I posted my first post in it, in the Characters thread, a post that contains a question I'm curious about. I hope that others with memories of this great show--or perhaps some who are discovering it for the first time on DVD or Hulu--will participate.

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I just watched the episode where Mary & Rhoda are going to Mexico to beat the cold. It is so funny. Especially, when Rhoda throws Mary the wrapped present from her closet. Hysterical!!!

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Watching the marathon from Decades... loved the episode where Mary inadvertently breaks up an old flame's new relationship and then turns him down when he proposes. The best line was from her father when the boyfriend told him that Mary turned him down "Well she knows you better than I do".

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Watched "A Girl Like Mary" from Season 5 tonight. (The one where she's trying out for "The Woman's Point of View" slot on the newscast.) 

It was so good it literally brought tears to my eyes. Not tears of sadness or even hilarity, more like the tears I get when in the presence of creativity so awesome it's like a glimpse of the Divine.

Edited by Milburn Stone
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I just started reading I, Rhoda from my Kindle. I'm up to where Valerie got the part, they filmed the pilot and she won her first Supporting Actress Emmy award. So far, it's a really great read. She said it simply amazing how she was plucked out of local theater production to audition for the part and won it a few days later. It was comedy gold with Mary, Valerie & Cloris. I still wish that neither of them had left the show. Can you imagine had they stayed the whole 7 years?

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6 minutes ago, ByaNose said:

I just started reading I, Rhoda from my Kindle. I'm up to where Valerie got the part, they filmed the pilot and she won her first Supporting Actress Emmy award. So far, it's a really great read. She said it simply amazing how she was plucked out of local theater production to audition for the part and won it a few days later. It was comedy gold with Mary, Valerie & Cloris. I still wish that neither of them had left the show. Can you imagine had they stayed the whole 7 years?

Who could argue with Valerie & Cloris' greatness? Not me. However, I'm not sorry they left, because I think if they hadn't, we would never have had Georgette or Sue Ann Nivens, two of my favorite characters. Certainly we would never have seen them given the prominence they received.

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1 hour ago, Milburn Stone said:

Who could argue with Valerie & Cloris' greatness? Not me. However, I'm not sorry they left, because I think if they hadn't, we would never have had Georgette or Sue Ann Nivens, two of my favorite characters. Certainly we would never have seen them given the prominence they received.

Well, Rhoda was there when they joined the cast but I get what you mean. We probably wouldn't have had a much WJM-TV if they had stayed, too. I just think first 4 years were so good but more because Rhoda was there for Mary. Of course, I love the guys too and the newsroom stuff was HYSTERICAL!!

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I treasure every moment of Sue Ann Nivens, and I remember how hysterical we found "The Lars Affair," the season-opener where she was introduced, and realized that even several seasons into its run, the series just kept getting better. And even more delight a month later when she returned, and we realized that she was going to be part of the mix from now on.

I could live without Georgette, though.

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18 minutes ago, Rinaldo said:

I could live without Georgette, though.

In the "A Girl Like Mary" episode, that scene where Georgette visits Mary in her apartment? And Mary is doing something involving laying out a shawl (or something) in a straight line across the chairs that oppose each other at either end of her dining table? And Georgette says, "It's lucky you have two chairs that far apart"? Cracks me up!

(I had the impression in that moment, which could be wrong, that both actresses were having a hard time not cracking up themselves.)

But chacon son gout. :)

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Mary was supposed to have known Phyllis before she moved to Minneapolis.  Was their connection ever explained?

As much as I liked Rhoda, it was a bit odd to me that she went from outright hostility toward Mary for "stealing" the apartment from her in the pilot to her bestie by the 2nd episode, based on little more than being two single women of a certain age.  I'm glad the writers ditched those "desperate single gals" storylines pretty quickly.  Episodes 2 and 4 were, IMO, downright embarrassing both then and now.

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20 hours ago, Rinaldo said:

I treasure every moment of Sue Ann Nivens, and I remember how hysterical we found "The Lars Affair," the season-opener where she was introduced, and realized that even several seasons into its run, the series just kept getting better. And even more delight a month later when she returned, and we realized that she was going to be part of the mix from now on.

 

I liked Sue Ann a great deal,too. However; I wish Mary had told Lou to stuff it instead of caving in after he spent an entire episode nagging/guilting Mary to hire Sue Ann in the newsroom despite Mary's major (and legit)  misgivings. I always saw that as a 'two steps back' ep for Mary.

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23 hours ago, Rinaldo said:

I treasure every moment of Sue Ann Nivens, and I remember how hysterical we found "The Lars Affair," the season-opener where she was introduced...

I rewatched the episode recently.  I love the way Sue Ann closes the oven door with a decidedly unladylike move of her leg while holding the soufflé.  I wonder if that was in the script or added by Betty White during rehearsals. 

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5 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

I love the way Sue Ann closes the oven door with a decidedly unladylike move of her leg while holding the soufflé.  I wonder if that was in the script or added by Betty White during rehearsals. 

Allow me to quote from Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (p. 187):

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"Oh, my poor baby!" Sue Ann cried, rescuing the dessert from the oven.

[Director Jay] Sandwich cut them off there. It was a brilliant scene, perfectly acted, except for one detail: The oven door gaped wide open after  White removed the soufflé, and the women were stuck sniping in front of a gaping black hole.

With the same combination of crude and smooth that her character had, White -- still holding the white ceramic soufflé dish -- lifted her knee and smacked the door shut.

She'd meant it as a between-takes joke, but Sandwich fell in love with the move. "That's it!" he said. "No more problem." That one gesture would become the most memorable part of an indelible episode.

 

So it seems that Betty White did indeed think up the bit, though she didn't seriously imagine that it would be used; and it was the director who decided to keep it in.

The following paragraph includes a remark that exactly describes my reaction at the time the episode first aired: "White awed everyone by making this dislikable character who stole Phyllis's husband watchable. Far more than watchable, in fact: She gave a transcendant performance that prompted viewers to ask: Where has this version of Betty White been, and how can we get more of her?"

It also mentions that White herself, when interviewed about the success of the character, would give the credit to Mary Tyler Moore's acting choices in their scenes together. Mary Richards clearly was amused (rather than shocked or irritated) by Sue Ann, thereby giving the TV audience "permission" to enjoy Sue Ann too.

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1 hour ago, Rinaldo said:

It also mentions that White herself, when interviewed about the success of the character, would give the credit to Mary Tyler Moore's acting choices in their scenes together. Mary Richards clearly was amused (rather than shocked or irritated) by Sue Ann, thereby giving the TV audience "permission" to enjoy Sue Ann too.

What I see is close to that, but not exactly that. I don't see Mary Richards being amused, exactly, but rather having the perspective to "consider the source." No insult or abuse from Sue Ann hurts or fazes her, since she knows how screwed up Sue Ann is. I guess it's kind of like being amused, without her finding it amusing. A very internal amused. 

I love the paragraph from the book, the one about "where has this Betty White been." Sums up my feeling from back then. (I'd pretty much seen her as an actual Happy Homemaker type until then. Which of course is why the casting was so brilliant.) Thanks for sharing it.

Edited by Milburn Stone

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Just saw the episode where Mary's dating a divorced dad of a petulant preteen boy, Stevie. Lou convinces Mary to admit she doesn't like the child. Mary, as usual, picks the worst time to declare her dislike --- Stevie's birthday party. Very reminiscent of the engagement party episode where she shows up with Rhoda and everyone is chattering about "which one is Mary".

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10 hours ago, Lola16 said:

Just saw the episode where Mary's dating a divorced dad of a petulant preteen boy, Stevie. Lou convinces Mary to admit she doesn't like the child. Mary, as usual, picks the worst time to declare her dislike --- Stevie's birthday party. Very reminiscent of the engagement party episode where she shows up with Rhoda and everyone is chattering about "which one is Mary".

 I saw that one,too, recently! My, what an utter PILL that kid was! Sue-Ann was the ONLY person there who even remotely came close to calling him on his 'tude (and it was good to see) while his guilt-ridden divorced dad treated him as though he could do no wrong but  his mother's side worshipped him. BTW, playing his maternal grandmother was none other than Mabel Albertson (AKA Mrs. Phyllis Stevens on "Bewitched" who, at the time, was Cloris Leachman's    mother-in-law. Oddly enough, Miss Leachman reaped high praise on her and even would care for her at the end of her life  when the older woman struggled with Alzheimer's and this was after Miss Leachman's marriage had ended. What's especially ironic is that, regardless of her offscreen personality, Miss Albertson ALWAYS seemed to play pills (and it was EASY to see where Stevie got his personality from). Yes, I always found it funny that the last couple of years of "Bewitched" and the first two of "MTM", George Englund was the son and husband of performers who played annoying women named Phyllis.LOL

Edited by Blergh · Reason: u for a
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One time Mabel Albertson didn't play a pill was in What's Up, Doc? She played a wealthy woman who got caught up in the farcical shenanigans, but on the whole stayed remarkably good-natured through it all.

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I just took the time (when I should have been doing something else) to individually count all of Mabel Albertson's character-actor TV appearances as listed on the IMDB. 176. In addition to 27 movies.

@Rinaldo's example (and maybe some others) aside, she was pretty much always the same character, as so many character actors were. And even in those secondary roles, seldom the beneficiary of A-level material (as some character actors had the good fortune to be), so that you seldom thought (as, for instance, you do with William Schallert), "Oh boy, So-and-So just showed up!" No, she was just there, reliably performing exactly the symbolic dramatic function she was put there to perform, and doing that better than most actors could. (Else she wouldn't have worked so much.) Attention must be paid.

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On 2/21/2017 at 4:55 PM, Milburn Stone said:

In the "A Girl Like Mary" episode, that scene where Georgette visits Mary in her apartment? And Mary is doing something involving laying out a shawl (or something) in a straight line across the chairs that oppose each other at either end of her dining table? And Georgette says, "It's lucky you have two chairs that far apart"? Cracks me up!

(I had the impression in that moment, which could be wrong, that both actresses were having a hard time not cracking up themselves.)

But chacon son gout. :)

And don't forget, Georgia Engel would be on Coach, too, so she was actually on TWO long running sitcoms set in Minnesota. :)

(Although Coach eventually moved to Orlando.)

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Not sure where to post this, but I thought it was a pretty good spoof on the show.

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Saw "Mary Midwife" a few days ago. While the script itself of Mary and Lou helping Georgette deliver her and Ted's baby girl (offstage in Mary's bedroom) was amusing enough, it was unintentionally funny how not only did Mary and Lou had perfectly clean hands and sleeves after all that, but Georgette literally didn't make a peep while giving birth and kept her curls intact! Of course, the latter deal is somewhat in character.  Yes, I know it was a comedy and not a documentary but it's still funny.

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What's especially funny to me about that in retrospect is that near the end of that same final season they mocked that same TV contrivance, in "Mary's Three Husbands" (Episode 21, where "Mary Midwife" was Episode 1). The three guys in the newsroom each imagine what it would be like to be married to Mary, and in one fantasy (I'm going on memory here) Mary gives birth offscreen, saying nothing more intense than "Oh boy." The big laugh comes from how nonchalant she is about it, and how easily the men imagine it happening. I wonder if some of the women writers for the show had wised up the men during the intervening months.

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