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Mary Tyler Moore: I Think She Made It After All


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#1

DoubleTee

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Posted Apr 15, 2004 @ 5:44 PM

Can it be that there is no thread for what I consider the second greatest comedy series after "I Love Lucy"? Seriously, I've seen each MTM episode at least a half-dozen times each by now, and they remain as fresh to me as when they were first aired.

The superb ensemble cast -- what a treat to watch them play off of each other. From Mary's job interview to that long road to Tipperary, it was a real blessing -- if I may slightly overstate the case -- to watch these characters grow and develop.

Actually, the one development I didn't like was Mary's new apartment. Heh. I so adore that tiny one-room dollop of 70s decor in that Victorian house. I liked watching the seasons change from that big window, too. Hee. (Hey, I'm from Southern California, seasons were such a novelty then.)

So many superb episodes, aside from the more obvious classics like Chuckles the Clown's funeral. I guess because I'm gay, the episode where Rhoda tells Phyllis that her perfect brother is also perfectly GAY has always resonated for me.

We used to relish Sue Ann Nivens appearances in those later shows, too. Love me some Betty White as a vamp.
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#2

mbridgii

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Posted Apr 15, 2004 @ 7:22 PM

If you don't have the Season 1 DVD, you've got to get it. It is chock full of extras.

The more years that pass, the more I really hate the new apartment. I know that the reason for the move had to do with Phyllis and Rhoda leaving, but couldn't they have created a better set for her? Maybe just let her move into Phyllis's old place or something?

It's just that the new place was so sterile and blah - not at all like the studio she had. That apartment had such style. It was also huge! I don't know anyone who could throw parties that large in a one room apartment.
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#3

TudorQueen

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Posted Apr 15, 2004 @ 8:10 PM

I loved it. Loved all the people, loved the class of it, the style and warmth of it. And while there were many great episodes, I really loved the individual moments:

The classic "You've got spunk. I hate spunk!"

Mary asks Georgette, on her wedding day, if she really loves Ted, and Georgette smiles beatifically and says "Someone has to." [I also loved John Ritter as the minister, in tennis clothes].

Sue Ann, in a discussion of death, and what people's final wishes would be, asks that she be cremated, and her ashes thrown at Robert Redford.

Rhoda, asked by a condescending Phyllis how she did in a beauty contest, after losing a great deal of wait, says "I won, Cookie!"

Mary talking Murray out of being in love with her.

Rhoda breaking up with her businessman beau after he becomes a forest ranger.

And so many more. Ted destroying Murray's play. Mr. Grant writing a letter to his wife in Mary's apartment. Mr, Grant and Mary going on a 'date' and bursting out laughing when they tried to kiss....

BTW, you know how Mary always threw the world's worst parties? Well, I throw terrible parties. I've thrown parties that no one has come to, costume parties where people didn't bother to wear costumes, all kinds of bad parties. My mother calls me "Mary"...
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#4

emdroberts

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Posted Apr 15, 2004 @ 8:25 PM

Any time someone mentions spunk I automatically tell them I hate spunk.

I also loved Georgetteís line about wearing plaid because itís Tedís favorite color. Me and my brother still say that too each other all the time.

I think my favorite episode was the one with Sue Annís bed. Her room was so cool looking. I loved her vibrating on the bed.
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#5

PattyLane

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 12:16 AM

I've always loved this show. The early years are my fave era though. It was just never the same for me after Rhoda left. The Mary and Rhoda friendship was the best part of the show for me. MTM and Valerie Harper had indcredible chemistry.

One of my fave moments was when Rhoda's apartment caught fire and had to be renivated and she moved in with Mary. The morning after Rhoda had made a huge vat of soup and left the tiny kitchen in a shambles and told Mary that she would just let the dishes soak all night and that she would do them the next morning. She had heard Mary in the kitchen that night (holding a flashlight under her chin!) trying to do the dishes and says from her bed "I told you I'd do them in the morning!". The next morning Rhoda is all packed to go stay at a motel and tells Mary "How can I live with a dish elf?".

I liked the odd post-Rhoda episode and Betty White's Sue Ann was always good for a chuckle but the early years are my absolute faves.
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#6

akg

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 7:51 AM

The more years that pass, the more I really hate the new apartment. I know that the reason for the move had to do with Phyllis and Rhoda leaving, but couldn't they have created a better set for her? Maybe just let her move into Phyllis's old place or something?

I had a nick at nite trivia calender a few years ago and one of the pages explained that the guy who owned Mary's apartment house in real life got tired of all the tourists so he put a sign that said "Impeach Nixon" in the windows. Mary moved soon after that.
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#7

Fraoch

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 10:22 AM

I've always wondered if Mary's horrible parties were a response to the FABULOUS dinner parties Rob and Laura Petrie always had.

Was it beef wellington she was serving when extra guests arrived and she didn't have enough for everyone? And when Lou basically took the ENTIRE slab of beef for his plate and was told that there wasn't enough to go around, he suavely put the meat back on the serving platter while saying "I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought!" My mom still says that when platters are going around for, say, Thanksgiving dinner. :)
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#8

Denman

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 11:06 AM

I guess I have a more modern taste because I liked her second apartment and the one Bob Newhart had The Bob Newhart show. I like high-rises with great views. Ted Knight was awesome and every "Ted" episode is my favorite.
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#9

dustylil

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 11:28 AM

Fraoch , I believe the dish Mary was serving was Veal Prince Orloff.
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#10

Inquisitionist

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 12:02 PM

Do you know what happens when you leave Veal Prince Orloff in the oven too long? He dies. Sue Ann at her best -- hee!

As I recall, the veal was cut into 6 portions for the 6 dinner guests. Lou slid the serving spatula under half the slab, scooping up 3 portions. Actually, there was a 7th attendee: Rhoda brought a sad-sack guy from the store, who sat at the little table by the window and ate half of Rhoda's portions. It was a very early TV appearance by Henry Winkler.

One of my all-time faves was the awards show Mary attended in which just about everything went wrong -- she had a cold, her dress didn't come back from the cleaners, her hair-dryer broke, she stubbed a toe, and there was some problem with her false eyelashes. When she staggered up to the podium to accept her award with her scraggly hair, red nose, and the loud flowered dress she had borrowed from Rhoda, the first thing she said was "I usually look so much better than this."
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#11

morecowbell

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 12:49 PM

I ALSO hate spunk! But I love this show and I am still thinking about getting season one on dvd. I heard there were not alot of extras tho.

Ted Knight was awesome too.

Stupid work, cutting into my loafing time!
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#12

timeonmyhands

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 2:31 PM

When she staggered up to the podium to accept her award with her scraggly hair, red nose, and the loud flowered dress she had borrowed from Rhoda, the first thing she said was "I usually look so much better than this."


Hey! I was going to come and post this as one of my favorite moments! But didn't she actually say "I'm usually much cuter than this"?
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#13

giebergoldfarb2

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 2:59 PM

Season 1 on DVD has great extras -- commentaries by producers, writers and actors, a new making-of documentary, the works. Alas, it sold so badly that none of the other seasons have come out. There's still talk that Fox -- which now owns this and all the other MTM shows -- may eventually try again with season 2 (maybe releasing it without extras and at a lower price, a la M*A*S*H), but it hasn't happened yet. :(

I think the show got better as it went on and the emphasis shifted more and more to Mary's work at the TV station and it became more and more of an ensemble show, where Ted or Lou could be the focus of an episode just as much as Mary. I can do without a lot of the episodes about Mary's relationships (iron-clad rule throughout the series: every male character is in love with Mary on some level), but any episode about the Teddy Awards, Chuckles the Clown, Sue Ann, is gold.
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#14

iMissEthan

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 4:34 PM

Did this show ever air in UK? Because I would think the thread title line alone may have prevented it. Spunk means sperm in UK, so they may have had to overdub something else.

I have an older friend whose sister got engaged during the final season of MTM. There was a big dinner set up one Saturday night for both families to meet and wouldn't you know it, it was the night of the series finale. This was in 1977 of course, way pre-VCRs. My friend and most of her family managed to slip out to a TV in the bedroom for most of the finale and all came back crying. Her sister was so mad at them because she knew what they were doing, meanwhile the fiance's family thought they hated them and were crying because their sister/daughter was marrying into their family.
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#15

dustylil

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Posted Apr 16, 2004 @ 8:14 PM

Surprisingly the show did not have much of a showing in the UK. Some 30 episodes were broadcast between 1971 and 1972 and a similar number shown in the mid-eighties. The earlier Dick Van Dyke Show and MTM's equally sophisticated contemporary MASH were popular in Britian. Certainly some shows don't cross the Atlantic well (in either direction) but this seems strange. Any knowledge/theories as to why?
Re: the term "spunk". I believe it was only used in the first episode. For British audiences, they could easily have dubbed the word "spirit" instead.
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#16

rosiebloom

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 12:52 PM

First my hates:

Mary: the dullest character on the show. Not to mention the transformation from a perky, optimistic, attractive young woman to aging, careerist, bitter hag with scary eyes.

Rhoda: I can only take so much self-deprecating crap from a slender, beautiful woman. I can only hear so much about man-woes from someone who would be beating them off. The way she talked, you'd think she was Ethel Mertz for fuck's sake!

Phyllis: Needed to be bitch-slapped to last Thursday.

Loves: Lou, Ted, Murray and Gordy. I'd have been happy if the entire show was set in the newsroom and they had cut out Mary's friends and her aggressively dull love-life.

--

"I hate snow. I don't like its color. I don't like it's shape. I don't like it's tempeture. Or how it feels when you walk on it. I don't like in snowballs. Or on hills. I don't like how it feels. Or what it does. I I don't like anything about it. It's a soft, wet, white, mushy, melting, freezing mess!"
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#17

mbridgii

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 4:58 PM

So you basically liked the last two seasons?

I really liked Mary and Rhoda. I didn't like Phyllis much, but I wasn't supposed to like her (so it worked). The show was one of the first to present realistic people (as opposed to the "setup-punchline" approach more often employed.

Plus, when the show started, Mary was 30. The show ran seven years, so aging was bound to happen. I don't know about the scary-eyed hag thing, but she had a pretty large mouth. Once Rhoda lost weight, even TPTB realized she couldn't really be as self-deprecating anymore, so they shipped her off to NYC and her heavier sister, Brenda.

Does anyone else have extreme difficulty in reconciling that Mary Richards and Laura Petrie are, in fact, the same actress? Laura was a great talent with the singing and dancing, but Mary Richards was so stiff that it ruined MTM's ability to be successful in the variety shows in 1978.
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#18

timeonmyhands

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 5:21 PM

Does anyone else have extreme difficulty in reconciling that Mary Richards and Laura Petrie are, in fact, the same actress?


Yes! I forget what episode it was but I remember one time when Mary was in Mr Grants office trying to sing some song or another and just doing a terrible job of it. Of course in real life she could have done it but I think it just showed what a talented actess she was that she could have pulled that off so well. I loved her in both shows but it is funny when you think that one person played two very different people (and did but so successfuly!).
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#19

rosiebloom

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 5:29 PM

No, I do prefer the early seasons, just the newsroom-oriented part.
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#20

emdroberts

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 5:29 PM

One thing I never understood about Rhodaís fat jokes is that I never thought she was fat. Every time I rewatch the pilot I look for it but I never see it. Was she really fat and Iím just blind to it?
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#21

giebergoldfarb2

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 5:48 PM

As I understand it, Rhoda was originally conceived as an overweight, dumpy woman with low self-esteem -- basically, Brenda Morgenstern is what Rhoda was supposed to be. When Valerie Harper auditioned she was so good that she was hired even though she wasn't the physical type they had in mind, but I guess they could never let go of the "fat" jokes. I always justified it as being that she thought she was fat because she wasn't skinny, and she thought she was unattractive because she wasn't a cheerleader-type like Mary. Something like that.

I personally prefer the later seasons, but Mary looked much better and was a more appealing character in the first couple of seasons (and the miniskirts she wore at the beginning were obviously much more flattering than the bell-bottoms she wore at the end).
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#22

Fraoch

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 6:05 PM

Mary: the dullest character on the show. Not to mention the transformation from a perky, optimistic, attractive young woman to aging, careerist, bitter hag with scary eyes.


To be fair re: her personal appearance, I believe it was later in the show's run that MTM was diagnosed with diabetes, but she'd been pretty sick leading up to that point. That could have contributed to the sunken eyes and haggard look.
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#23

Albanyguy

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 7:14 PM

To be fair re: her personal appearance, I believe it was later in the show's run that MTM was diagnosed with diabetes, but she'd been pretty sick leading up to that point. That could have contributed to the sunken eyes and haggard look.


Actually, I remember reading about her being diagnosed as diabetic and being on insulin therapy well before The Mary Tyler Moore Show was concieved. I think her haggard appearance during the later seasons was the result of her drinking escalating into full-blown alcoholism. Like MTM, I'm a recovering alcoholic (11 years sober) and when I see photos of myself taken towards the end of my drinking days, I can't believe how old and tired and worn-out I looked. I was thirty and could easily have passed for fifty. Fortunately, most of the physical scars of my drinking have disappeared with sobriety. Today, I look much younger, healthier and happier than I did back then. So, IMO, did Mary after she stopped drinking.

Also, during that period, she was undergoing a lot of personal trauma (a divorce, her son's death) and I'm sure that contributed to the dramatic change in her appearance.

But, she's still here and going strong. God bless her, she really did make it after all.
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#24

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 7:31 PM

Actually, there was a 7th attendee: Rhoda brought a sad-sack guy from the store, who sat at the little table by the window and ate half of Rhoda's portions. It was a very early TV appearance by Henry Winkler.

I was not aware of that. I guess it's because I'm used to him as "The Fonz".
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#25

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 11:43 PM

I don't think Valerie Harper was ever "fat" during her Rhoda days but she did lose twenty pounds while the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" was on hiatus and they ended up incorporating that into the show.

No one I knew ever thought she was fat, either.
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#26

Josette

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Posted Apr 19, 2004 @ 12:39 AM

Yeah, Rhoda lost twenty pounds and Phyllis (fat-hating Cloris Leachman) went on and on about how Rhoda had "dropped a ton". I thought that was overkill.

I remember the early episode where Mary and Rhoda go to the club for divorced people so they can get a discount on a trip to Paris or something. There's this amusing scene where Mary and Rhoda are exercising, except Rhoda is just going through the motions. Like, she's supposed to be jogging in place, but her feet never leave the floor.

forget what episode it was but I remember one time when Mary was in Mr Grants office trying to sing some song or another and just doing a terrible job of it.

Mary was in charge of the entertainment portion of the Teddy awards show, I think. She asked Mr. Grant if there was a conflict if she sang in the show. He asked for a demonstration of her singing. Her song choice was One for My Baby. Georgette wound up in the show performing Steam Heat. I shouldn't know these things, but I do.

Edited by Josette, Apr 19, 2004 @ 12:46 AM.

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#27

hughster

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Posted Apr 19, 2004 @ 1:53 AM

Jeez, you are all being a little harsh on MTM's appearance! Haggard?! Come on! She was a forty-year-old woman when the show ended, she hadn't yet had a face lift, and no one had yet figured out that injecting botulism virus into one's face got rid of wrinkles. We should all look so good at forty - especially considering her diabetes!

Also, during that period, she was undergoing a lot of personal trauma (a divorce, her son's death) and I'm sure that contributed to the dramatic change in her appearance.


Actually, her son didn't die until 1980, three years after the show ended, and she and Grant Tinker weren't divorced until 1981 (although her bio mentions a separation and reconciliation in the mid-70's).
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#28

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Posted Apr 19, 2004 @ 8:30 AM

I remember the early episode where Mary and Rhoda go to the club for divorced people so they can get a discount on a trip to Paris or something.


At the divorced people's mixer, Rhoda forgets for a moment that she's supposed to be divorced and refers to herself as "Miss Morgenstern". Covering quickly, she says "Due to my ex-husband's importance to the space program, NASA requested that I use my maiden name."

Woman: "Your ex was an astronaut! Which one?"

Rhoda: "Oh, I don't like to say. Once people find out who I am, they keep hitting me up for moon rocks."
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#29

iMissEthan

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Posted Apr 19, 2004 @ 2:44 PM

I know Mary Richards was supposed to be 30 in 1970, but was MTM? Dick Van Dyke started in 1962(?), so MTM was a 22 year old with a 5 year old son? Was she playing older than herself on the earlier show?
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#30

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Posted Apr 19, 2004 @ 3:52 PM

MTM was born Dec. 1936, so she was just shy of 25 when TDVDS premiered in October, 1961. Indeed, DVD (who was almost 36) had feared that MTM would look too young to be his wife. I think Reiner intended Laura to be a bit older than MTM herself was -- though as discussed above, we later learned Laura had been only 17 when she married Rob, so she certainly could have been 20 when Ritchie was born.

So to answer your original question, MTM was about 3 years older than Mary Richards.
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