CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Greatest TV Comedies - Mary Tyler Moore (1970-1977)

Mary Tyler Moore created one of the most loved sitcoms of all time and one of the most iconic TV characters ever in Mary Richards. While Mary Tyler Moore was not her first sitcom, remember she co-starred with Dick Van Dyke for five years on The Dick Van Dyke Show, it turned out to be her best. Well in my opinion. This time she was single and very much a career woman. She leaves her town and heads to Minneapolis to get a job at the news station WJM. And surrounds herself with one of TV's best ensemble casts. There's Ed Asner as gruff Lou Grant, her boss. Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter the writer. Ted Knight as blowhard Ted Baxter, the anchorman. Betty White as the passive-aggressive Sue Ann Nivens. Who can imagine sweet Betty White as the sex-starved Sue! Well she works it and is funny as hell. There is also best friend Rhoda (Valerie Harper). It should be noted that most of these stars would headline their own series as well. In fact Ed Asner and Valerie Harper would spin their characters into their own series. But in Lou Grant's case, it became a drama, which still made for good TV. MacLeod ended up as captain on the Love Boat. Knight would star in the vastly underrated Too Close for Comfort. And of course Betty White would star in The Golden Girls.
Look at the happy cast!

But they all would gel on this classic series, Mary Tyler Moore, first. There was no grandstanding or showboating here folks. Everyone worked as part of a well oiled unit. Moore, who was funny enough to carry the show by herself, didn't have to. I think one of the main reasons this series was so successful was because of the sharp writing. And the characters themselves who were fully developed and not caricatures. I mean this show won tons of Emmys and that's no accident. Let's see...Mary won, as did Asner, Harper, Knight, and White. As did Cloris Leachman who played perky landlady Phyllis for a few seasons before getting her own sitcom as well. I mean the talent involved on this series was crazy insane! Head writer/executive producer James L. Brooks led the way. Along with writer Allan Burns and director Jay Sandrich. All would have long successful careers in television.
Mary and Rhoda just hanging out on a Saturday afternoon

Back to the show, which logged 168 episodes over it's seven year run. I can't recall too many flat episodes. Most of them were hysterically funny. If you mention Chuckles the funeral, I'm sure most people will know what you're talking about. Mary has a hard time trying not to laugh at Chuckles funeral and it's one of the most iconic moments in TV history. When a series runs this long, you know that there is something going on. Great chemistry and performances coupled with excellent writing and direction makes this one of TV's greatest sitcoms of all time.
The one and only Mary Tyler Moore

Facts and trivia:

Won Emmys as Outstanding comedy series for three consecutive years (1975-1977).

Mary picked up three Emmys herself during the series seven year run (1973, 1974, 1976)

Betty White and Cloris Leachman both picked up two Emmys each during their stints.
Look at all those Emmys

Mary's house, which appears in the opening credits, is still standing in Minneapolis, Minnesota - the city in which the show takes place. 
When casting the part of Sue-Anne Nivens, producers were stumped for an actress to take the role. They wanted "someone like Betty White". Eventually, someone asked "Why not cast Betty White?"

This program has the most Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series - 5. 
Mary and Ted

Spin-off series:
Lou Grant (1977-1982, 114 episodes)

Rhoda (1974-1978, 110 episodes)
Phyllis (1975-1977, 48 episodes)

And that's a wrap!

1 comment:

Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl said...

Love it, Monty. Great post. I have my pic in front of the house in Minneapolis! A big highlight when we were in Minneapolis, as you can imagine!


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