The Last Show (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
|"The Last Show"|
|The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode|
Mary, Rhoda, and Phyllis reunited at last
|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||Jay Sandrich|
|Written by||Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, and Bob Ellison|
|Original air date||March 18, 1977
March 19, 1977 (US)
"The Last Show" is the 168th episode and series finale of the television sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and was written by Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Ed Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, and Bob Ellison. Internationally, it was first aired in Canada on CBC Television, March 18, 1977 at 8 p.m. In the U.S., it was one day later on Saturday, March 19, on CBS.
The episode won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series." In executive producer Allan Burns' "Outstanding Comedy Series" acceptance speech at the 29th annual prime time Emmy Awards, he stated, "We kept putting off writing that last show; we frankly didn't want to do it. I think it said what we wanted it to say. It was poignant, and I believe The Mary Tyler Moore Show was, in the long run, important for many women."
The new station manager of WJM-TV, Mr. Coleman (guest star Vincent Gardenia), is firing people left and right, and wants to do something about the Six O'Clock News' low ratings. Surprisingly, Lou, Mary, Murray, and Sue Ann are fired, but the person widely perceived as the cause of the Six O'Clock News' low ratings, Ted, is retained.
Everyone takes the news pretty hard, except for Ted, who saunters back into the newsroom, but it is Mary who takes the news hardest. To cheer her up, Lou arranges for old friends Rhoda Morganstern and Phyllis Lindstrom to fly to Minneapolis for a surprise visit at Mary's apartment. Time had failed to tame their rivalry, however. Both agitate for Mary to move with them to New York and San Francisco, respectively, but they compromise that she stays in the Twin Cities. Rhoda gets to the heart of the matter and comforts Mary, then reluctantly allows Phyllis to do the same.
At one point, Ted threatens to resign if they fire the rest of the staff. However, he caves in quickly when pushed. This causes Murray to quip, "When a donkey flies, you don't blame him for not staying up that long."
After their final news broadcast together, in which Ted gives a sincere but comical sendoff to his colleagues on the air, the Six O'Clock News' staff, along with Georgette, gather in the newsroom to say goodbye to each other. The memorable and oft parodied scene culminates in an emotional huddle, during which nobody wants to let go, and, needing some tissues, the group shuffles en masse toward a box on Mary's desk. After final goodbyes, everyone exits the newsroom singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary". Finally, a very emotional Mary looks back, then bucks up and smiles before turning off the lights and closing the door.
The original broadcast included a curtain call, during which Mary Tyler Moore introduced her costars to the live audience as "the best cast ever." This was omitted from syndicated airings, but is available on the season 7 DVD release. This is the only episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in which all eight of the regular series characters (Mary, Lou, Ted, Murray, Rhoda, Phyllis, Georgette, and Sue Ann) appear, and the curtain call is the only time the eight actors are all seen together at the same time.
In the 1988 series finale of St. Elsewhere (also an MTM production), characters had a group hug like in "The Last Show."
The 1989 series finale of Family Ties also ended with a curtain call, inspired by this finale.
When the architects of the sitcom Friends were about to write their series finale, they watched several other sitcom finales. Co-creator Marta Kauffman said that The Last Show was the "gold standard" and that it influenced the finale of Friends.
Jane Curtin ended her Weekend Update segment of the Saturday Night Live episode that aired the same night as the finale with a tribute to the titular character. Curtin signs off by saying "Goodnight, Mary Richards... and have a pleasant tomorrow."
- Miller, Jack, "It's Mary's agony or The African Queen", The Toronto Star, March 18, 1977, P E3
- Hartlaub, Peter (2004-01-15). "'Friends' challenge – finding right words to say goodbye". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
- Zurawik, David (2004-05-14). "It's just hard to say goodbye". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
- TV's Most Unforgettable Finales - Aired May 22, 2011 on TV Guide Network