Mary Tyler Moore: Season 6
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Mary Tyler Moore: Season 6

Starting with us baby boomers our culture has become increasingly centered on the shows that appear on television. The vast majority may be rather forgettable but a rare number of shows transcends even a place in popular culture and become part of our lives. From a personal perspective one such series is ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’. Its seven year run saw me through the end of high school through college and finally the first couple of years of my marriage. Even after the series went off the air it still had a profound personal impact. Just after our daughter was born this series was in syndication shown in the wee hours of the night. My wife and would watch it as we fed our child and lulled her back to sleep. It is only natural that memories such as those would create a halo effect surrounding the series but the fact is the series was first and foremost one of the best examples of a situation comedy ever devised. Many attempts have been made to try to recapture the lightening in a bottle that ways this show but none have come anywhere close. A number of individual episodes of this series have distinguished themselves even in comparisons to other from this show. Happily one of the world’s favorite episodes of all time in included in this sixth season set; the death of a TV clown. If that meager description just brought a smile to your face then you know exactly what episode I’m referring to here. Fox has obtained the distribution rights for the series through their current relationship with MGM and have been steadily releasing season sets to DVD. With the release of this sixth season we are almost able to collect them all which are something a lot of diehard fan including myself are looking forward to.

The brilliant creative mind behind this series was James L. Brooks. Besides working on both of the major spin-offs for this show; ‘Rhoda’, and ‘Lou Grant’ he was a significant writer for the hit series ‘ The Simpsons’ and ‘Taxi’. One thing is certain; the man knew what he was doing when it came to reinventing the often dulled format of the sit-com. The thing that was most special about his writing that is exemplified in the MTM show is the quiet almost unassuming way re shook the world of television. There have always been series aptly describe as ground breaking typically heralded with a lot of media hype. This show was more innovative and original then most but it did so in an extremely low key fashion. The traditional sit-com was based on the home life of the American, nuclear family. Dad went to work and mom stayed at home caring for the kids and home front. Mary Richards (Moore) was a young modern woman. At the tender age of thirty she traveled to Minneapolis unexpectedly landing a job as associate producer for a local evening TV news program. Mary was bright, pretty and friendly but with a streak of insecurity a mile wide. Over the course of the seven years the character was afforded the opportunity to experience both professional and personal growth. Mary was the nicest person you could ever hope to meet but her one short coming was her inability to throw a party; disaster always ensued.

Mary was always a true and trusted friend even to the self important bumbling anchor of the News Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). If something inappropriate or outright stupid has just been spoken the chances were excellent it came from Ted. This next to last season started to wind up several of the running plot lines including the marriage of Ted to his squeaky voiced, long time girlfriend, Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel). The wedding episode is one on the funniest on screen ceremonies every shown. Love seemed to be a pervading theme in this season. It appears that practically everybody gets hit with cupid’s arrow this season. The boss of the newsroom, the formidable Lou Grant (Edward Asner) meets up with an old flame that rejected him in WWII and if that wasn’t enough he has to contend with the constant unwanted lusty intentions of cooking show hostess Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White). Mary finds romantic problem when in one episode her current beau is unable to say ‘I Love You’. In another episode Mary’s ex fiancée from back home pops up to complicate her life. Although not concerned with romance the highlight of the season is the episode ‘Chuckles Bites the Dust’. During a parade the beloved host of a children’s show Chuckles the clown was killed. He was in his ‘Peter the Peanut outfit when an elephant killed him. Everyone in the newsroom is making jokes about the untimely demise except for Mary who demands more decorum from her friends. At the funeral the emotions catch up with Mary who begins to laugh uncontrollably in of the best comic moments ever seen on television. All of the episodes in this season set are exceptional but this one episode will forever be a stand out. Adding this to your collection allows you to own a piece of cultural history that should not be missed. If you are having a bad day at work just pop this in your DVD player and be prepared to laugh, a lot.

Posted 02/06/2010

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