The Mary Tyler Moore Show
|Mary Tyler Moore|
Title card with Peignot typeface
|Created by||James L. Brooks
|Starring||Mary Tyler Moore
|Theme music composer||Sonny Curtis|
|Opening theme||"Love Is All Around", written and performed by Sonny Curtis|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||168 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||James L. Brooks
|Running time||25–26 minutes|
|Production company(s)||MTM Enterprises|
|Original release||September 19, 1970– March 19, 1977|
|Followed by||Lou Grant (1977–82)|
|Related shows||Rhoda (1974–78)
Lou Grant (1977–82)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is an American sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977. Its central character is a never-married, independent career woman, a rarity in American television in the early 1970s.
It is one of the most acclaimed television programs in United States television history. It received high praise from critics during its run with 29 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975–1977), and continued to be honored long after the final episode aired. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show No. 6 in its list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.
- 1 Summary and setting
- 2 Characters
- 3 Production
- 4 Response and impact
- 5 Broadcast history
- 6 Home media
- 7 Awards and honors
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Summary and setting
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating||Tied with|
|1||24||September 19, 1970||March 6, 1971||22||20.3||N/A|
|2||24||September 18, 1971||March 4, 1972||10||23.7||Here's Lucy|
|3||24||September 16, 1972||March 3, 1973||7||23.6||Gunsmoke|
|4||24||September 15, 1973||March 2, 1974||9||23.1||Cannon|
|5||24||September 14, 1974||March 8, 1975||11||24.0||N/A|
|6||24||September 13, 1975||March 6, 1976||19||21.9||N/A|
|7||24||September 25, 1976||March 19, 1977||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Mary Richards (Moore) is a single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolis on the heels of a broken engagement. She applies for a secretarial job at fictional television station WJM, but that is already taken. She is instead offered the position of associate producer of the station's Six O'Clock News. She befriends her tough but lovable boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner), newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and buffoonish anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Mary later becomes producer of the show.
Mary rents a third-floor studio apartment in a 19th-century house from acquaintance and downstairs landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), and she and upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) become best friends. Characters introduced later in the series are acerbic, man-hungry TV cooking show hostess Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), and sweet-natured Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), as Ted Baxter's girlfriend (and later, wife). At the beginning of season 6, after both Rhoda and Phyllis have moved away (providing a premise for two spinoffs), Mary relocates to a one-bedroom high-rise apartment.
In the third season, issues such as equal pay for women, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality are woven into the show's comedic plots. In the fourth season, such subjects as marital infidelity and divorce are explored with Phyllis and Lou, respectively. In the fifth season, Mary refuses to reveal a news source and is jailed for contempt of court. While in jail, she befriends a prostitute who seeks Mary's help in a subsequent episode. In the final seasons, the show explores humor in death in the episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust" and juvenile delinquency; Ted deals with intimate marital problems, infertility, and adoption, and suffers a heart attack; and Mary overcomes an addiction to sleeping pills. Mary dates several men on and off over the years, two seriously, but remains single throughout the series.
Kenwood Parkway house
In 1995, Entertainment Weekly said that "TV's most famous bachelorette pad" was Mary's apartment. The fictitious address was 119 North Weatherly, but the exterior establishing shots were of a real house in Minneapolis at 2104 Kenwood Parkway. In the real house, an unfinished attic occupied the space behind the window recreated on the interior studio set of Mary's apartment.
Once fans of the series discovered where exterior shots had been taken, the house became a popular tourist destination. According to Moore, the woman who lived in the house "was overwhelmed by the people showing up and asking if Mary was around." To discourage crews from filming additional footage of the house, the owners placed an "Impeach Nixon" sign beneath the window where Mary supposedly lived. The house continued to attract 30 tour buses a day more than a decade after production ended.
At the time of Mary Tyler Moore's death, on January 25, 2017, the Kenwood Parkway house was for sale at $1.7 million.
- Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), a single native Minnesotan, moves to Minneapolis in 1970 at age 30 and becomes Associate Producer of WJM-TV's Six O'Clock News. Her sincere, kind demeanor often acts as a foil for the personalities of her co-workers and friends.
- Lou Grant (Edward Asner) is the Producer (later Executive Producer) of the news. His tough and grumpy demeanor initially hides his kind-hearted nature which is gradually revealed as the series progresses. He is referred to as "Lou" by everyone, including Mary's friends, with the exception of Mary herself, who can rarely bring herself to call him by his first name rather than "Mr. Grant". He was originally married to Edie, but during the run of the show they separated and divorced.
- Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), the head writer of the news makes frequent quips for Ted Baxter's mangling of his news copy, and Sue Ann Nivens' aggressive, man-hungry attitude. He is Mary's closest coworker and close friend. Murray is married to the occasionally seen Marie, and has several children.
- Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) is the dim-witted, vain, and miserly anchorman of the Six O'Clock News. He frequently makes mistakes and is oblivious to the actual nature of the topics covered on the show, but considers himself to be the country's best news journalist. He is often criticized by others, especially Murray and Lou for his many shortcomings, but is never fired from his position. Initially a comic buffoon in the series, Ted's better nature is gradually revealed as the series unfolds, helped along by his sweet but sometimes perceptive wife Georgette.
- Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) (1970–74) is Mary's best friend and upstairs neighbor. She works as a window dresser at the fictional Hemphill's department store. Though insecure about her appearance, she is also outgoing and sardonic, often making wisecracks, frequently at her own expense. Like Mary, she is single. She dates frequently, often joking about her disastrous dates. Rhoda moves to New York City and falls in love after the fourth season, beginning the spinoff series, Rhoda.
- Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) (1970–75) is Mary's snobbish friend and neighbor, who is actually a recurring character who is seen occasionally. She is married to an unseen character, Lars, a dermatologist, and has a precocious daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen). Phyllis is controlling and often arrogant. She is actively involved in groups and clubs and is a political activist and a supporter of Women's Liberation. Rhoda and Phyllis are usually at odds with each other and often trade insults. After five seasons, Phyllis is widowed, learns her husband had virtually no assets and she must support herself; she moves to San Francisco in the spinoff series Phyllis.
- Georgette Franklin Baxter(Georgia Engel) (1972–77) is the somewhat ditzy girlfriend (and later wife) of stentorian news anchor Ted Baxter (played by Ted Knight). Mary Tyler Moore described her as a cross between Stan Laurel and Marilyn Monroe. She and Mary got along fantastically, and she helped to somewhat fill the void that Phyllis Lindstrom and Rhoda left in Mary's life when they left for San Francisco and New York City, respectively.
- She made her first appearance at one of Mary Richards' parties. She worked as a window dresser at Hempel's Department Store in Minneapolis, Minnesota along with Rhoda Morgenstern. Later, she worked for a car rental service, as a Golden Girl, and for Rhoda selling plants.
- Georgette was devoted to Ted and they would eventually marry in Mary Richards' apartment. They adopt a child named David (Robbie Rist), and later, she gives birth to a girl named Mary Lou, also in Mary's apartment.
- Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) (1973–77), host of WJM's The Happy Homemaker show. While her demeanor is superficially cheerful, she makes judgmental comments about Mary, exchanges personal insults with Murray, and uses many sexual double entendres, especially around Lou, to whom she is strongly attracted.
When Moore was first approached about the show, she "was unsure and unwilling to commit, fearing any new role might suffer in comparison with her Laura Petrie character in The Dick Van Dyke Show, which also aired on CBS, and was already cemented as one of the most popular parts in TV history." Moore's character was initially intended to be a divorcée, but divorce was still controversial at the time. CBS was afraid viewers might think that Mary had divorced Rob Petrie, Laura's husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show, so the premise was changed to that of a single woman with a recently broken engagement. Notably, Van Dyke never guest starred in any episode, although his brother Jerry Van Dyke guest-starred in a couple of episodes during the third and fourth seasons. (Jerry had also regularly appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show.)
According to co-creator Allan Burns, Minnesota was selected for the show's location after "one of the writers began talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings." A television newsroom was chosen for the show's workplace because of the supporting characters often found there, stated co-creator James Brooks.
The opening title sequence features many scenes filmed on location in Minneapolis in both summer and winter, as well as a few clips from the show's studio scenes. The sequence changed each season, but always ended with Mary tossing her hat into the air in front of what was then the flagship Donaldson's department store at the intersection of South 7th Street and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The hat toss was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as the second greatest moment in television. On May 8, 2002, Moore was in attendance when basic cable network TV Land dedicated a statue to her that captured her iconic throw. In 2010, TV Guide ranked the show's opening title sequence No. 3 on a list of TV's Top Ten credit sequences, as selected by readers. In 2017, James Charisma of Paste (magazine) ranked the show's opening sequence #15 on a list of The 75 Best TV Title Sequences of All Time.
The theme song played during the opening, "Love Is All Around", was written and performed by Sonny Curtis. The lyrics changed between the first and second seasons, in part to reflect Mary Richards having become settled in her new home. The later lyrics, which accompanied many more episodes at a time when the show's popularity was at a peak, are more widely known, and most covers of the song use these words.
No supporting cast members are credited during the show's opening (though from the second season on, shots of them appear). The ending sequences show snippets of the cast, as well as any major guest stars in that specific episode, with the respective actors' names at the bottom of the screen. Other on-location scenes are also shown during the closing credits, including a rear shot of Mary holding hands with her date, played by Moore's then husband, Grant Tinker, and Moore and Valerie Harper feeding ducks on the bank of a pond in a Minneapolis park (this shot remained in the credits, even after Harper left the show). The ending sequence music is an instrumental version of "Love is All Around." The ending finishes with a cat meowing within the MTM company logo.
Response and impact
Impact on television
In 2007, Time magazine put The Mary Tyler Moore Show on its list of "17 Shows That Changed TV". Time stated that the series "liberated TV for adults—of both sexes" by being "a sophisticated show about grownups among other grownups, having grownup conversations". The Associated Press said that the show "took 20 years of pointless, insipid situation comedy and spun it on its heels. [It did this by] pioneer[ing] reality comedy and the establishment of clearly defined and motivated secondary characters."
Tina Fey, creator and lead actress of the 2006-debut sitcom 30 Rock, explained that Moore's show helped inspire 30 Rock's emphasis on office relationships. "Our goal is to try to be like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where it's not about doing the news," said Fey. Entertainment Weekly also noted that the main characters of 30 Rock mirror those of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
When the writers of the sitcom Friends were about to create their series finale, they watched several other sitcom finales. Co-creator Marta Kauffman said that the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the "gold standard" and that it influenced the finale of Friends.
Spin-offs, specials and reunions
The show spun off three television series, all of which aired on CBS: the sitcoms Rhoda (1974–78) and Phyllis (1975–77), and the one-hour drama Lou Grant (1977–82). In 2000, Moore and Harper reprised their roles in a two-hour ABC TV-movie, Mary and Rhoda.
Two retrospective specials were produced by CBS: Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show (1991) and The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion (2002). On May 19, 2008, the surviving cast members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show reunited on The Oprah Winfrey Show to reminisce about the series. Winfrey, a longtime admirer of Moore and the show, had her staff recreate the sets of the WJM-TV newsroom and Mary's apartment (seasons 1–5) for the reunion.
In 2013, the women of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, and Georgia Engel, reunited on the TV Land sitcom Hot In Cleveland, which aired on September 4. The cast was interviewed by Katie Couric on Katie as they celebrated acting together for the first time in more than 30 years.
In popular culture
The show has remained popular since the final episode was broadcast in 1977. Several songs, films and other television programs, including The Simpsons, reference or parody characters and events from the show, including the memorable "...can turn the world on with her smile" line from the title song. Parodies were done on shows such as Saturday Night Live, MadTV, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which was produced in Minneapolis). Barbara Kessler and Relient K are two artists who have referred to the show in their songs. The show has been mentioned in film as well. In the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the name of Burgundy's dog, Baxter, refers to the character Ted Baxter, and the head of the newsroom staff is named Ed, honouring Ed Asner. In Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, the characters argue with each other while exclaiming "I'm the Mary and you're the Rhoda." Frank DeCaro of The New York Times wrote that this was the highlight of the film.
The show's Emmy-winning final episode has been alluded to many times in other series' closing episodes, such as the finale of St. Elsewhere (including the group shuffle to the tissue box), Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Just Shoot Me!.
The show did not do well initially in syndication, never being shown in more than 25 percent of the United States at a time, according to Robert S. Alley, the co-author of a book about the series. In the fall of 1992, Nick at Nite began broadcasting the series nightly, launching it with a week-long "Mary-thon", and it became the network's top-rated series.
The series was broadcast on BBC1 from February 13, 1971 to December 29, 1972. The BBC broadcast the first 34 episodes before the series was dropped. Beginning in 1975 a number of ITV companies picked up the series. Channel 4 repeated the first 39 episodes between January 30, 1984, and August 23, 1985. The full series was repeated on The Family Channel from 1993 to 1996.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released all 7 seasons on DVD in Region 1.
|DVD name||Episodes||Region 1 release date|
|The Complete First Season||24||September 24, 2002|
|The Complete Second Season||24||July 26, 2005|
|The Complete Third Season||24||January 17, 2006|
|The Complete Fourth Season||24||June 20, 2006|
|The Complete Fifth Season||24||October 6, 2009|
|The Complete Sixth Season||24||February 2, 2010|
|The Complete Seventh and Final Season||24||October 5, 2010|
On the season 7 DVD, the last episode's "final curtain call", broadcast only once on March 19, 1977 (March 18 in Canada), was included at the request of fans. However, some of the season 7 sets did not include the curtain call; a replacement disc is reported to be available from the manufacturer.
Awards and honors
- Outstanding Comedy Series  — (1975,76,77)
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series  — Mary Tyler Moore ('73,74,76)
- Actress of the Year: Series  — Mary Tyler Moore ('74)
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series  — Ed Asner ('71,72,75), Ted Knight ('73,76)
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series  — Valerie Harper ('71,72,73), Cloris Leachman ('74), Betty White ('75,76)
- Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series  — Cloris Leachman ('75) (shared w/ Zohra Lampert, Kojak)
- Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series  — James L. Brooks, Allan Burns (1971), Treva Silverman (1974), Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels (1975), David Lloyd (1976), Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, Bob Ellison (1977)
- Writer of the Year: TV Series  — Treva Silverman ('74)
- Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series  — Jay Sandrich (1971), Jay Sandrich (1973)
- Outstanding Film Editing  — Douglas Hines ('75,77)
Golden Globe Awards
- 1971: Mary Tyler Moore, Best Actress/Comedy
- 1972: Edward Asner, Best Supporting Actor/Comedy
- 1976: Edward Asner, Best Supporting Actor/Comedy (tied with Tim Conway for The Carol Burnett Show)
- The show was honored with a Peabody Award in 1977. In presenting the award, the Peabody committee stated that MTM Enterprises had "established the benchmark by which all situation comedies must be judged" and lauded the show "for a consistent standard of excellence – and for a sympathetic portrayal of a career woman in today's changing society".
- 1987's book Classic Sitcoms, by Vince Waldron, contained a poll among TV critics of the top sitcoms of all time up to that date. Mary Tyler Moore was the No. 1 show on that list.
- In 1997, TV Guide ranked "Chuckles Bites The Dust" No. 1 on their list of The 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. "The Lars Affair" made the list at #27.
- In 1998, Entertainment Weekly placed The Mary Tyler Moore Show first in its list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of all Time.
- In 1999, the TV Guide list of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time ranked Mary Richards 21st and Ted Baxter 29th. Only three other shows placed two characters on the list (Taxi, The Honeymooners and Seinfeld).
- In 1999, Entertainment Weekly ranked the opening credits image of Mary tossing her hat into the air as No. 2 on their list of The 100 Greatest Moments In Television.
- In 2002, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was 11th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
- In 2003, USA Today called it "one of the best shows ever to air on TV".
- In 2006, Entertainment Weekly ranked Rhoda 23rd on its list of the best sidekicks ever.
- In 2007, Time magazine placed the Mary Tyler Moore Show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".
- Bravo ranked Mary Richards 8th, Lou Grant 35th, Ted Baxter 48th, and Rhoda Morgenstern 57th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.
- In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the sixth best written TV series ever.
- Also in 2013, Entertainment Weekly ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the fourth best TV series ever.
- In a third 2013 list, TV Guide ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the seventh greatest show of all time.
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- Charisma, James (January 4, 2017). "The 75 Best TV Title Sequences of All Time". Paste (magazine). Retrieved January 16, 2017.
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- University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1977, MTM Enterprises – The Peabody Awards". archive.org. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
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- Waldron, Vince (1987). Classic Sitcoms. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 504. ISBN 0-02-040760-2.
- "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28 – July 4). 1997.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Mary Tyler Moore Show|
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show at the Encyclopedia of Television
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television
- Citysearch: The Mary Tyler Moore Show Tour describing locations featured in the series
- The Mary & Rhoda Magazine, with a brief selection of articles about the series
- Mary Tyler Moore on IMDb
- Mary Tyler Moore at TV.com