1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 7 (USA)
168 x 25 minute episodes
With the demise of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore spent several years ill-advisedly seeking to emulate Ginger Rogers, before starring in this situation comedy about Mary Richards, a liberal career girl in her early 30s.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show changed sitcoms forever, establishing the foundation for the workplace comedy that’s still an effective and often-used model today. A groundbreaking show in its depiction of a single woman’s life, the series follows Mary as she starts a new life in Minneapolis after an unsuccessful relationship.
She moves into Apartment D in an old Victorian home located at 119 North Weatherly Avenue and finds a job at a local TV station (WJM). There she quickly works her way through the ranks, all the while faced with many problems faced by women of her age in real life.
MTM was created at a time when TV sitcoms were first beginning to explore contemporary controversial issues such as women’s liberation, anti-Semitism, homosexuality, divorce, and racism. But the show makes its points with skill and subtlety in the context of character rather than through didactic preachiness.
The cast includes Ed Asner as Mary’s irascible boss Lou Grant, Valerie Harper as her insecure upstairs neighbour Rhoda Morgenstern (a window dresser who lives in the converted attic space) and their gossipy landlady Phyllis Lindstrom who drops in from time-to-time with tidbits about her husband, Lars (an unseen dermatologist).
All later starred in their own eponymous spin-off series’.
Also on hand are Ted Knight as dim and egotistical anchorman Ted Baxter (pictured below right), Gavin MacLeod as humble but wisecracking news writer Murray Slaughter, and Betty White as lascivious Sue Ann Nivens – The Happy Homemaker.
Beyond its intelligent and witty writing, the show’s enduring appeal is probably due to its main characters’ underlying affection for one another. The show’s theme song, Love Is All Around, accurately expresses its tone.
“Who can turn the world on with her smile?/Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?/ Well it’s you girl, and you should know it/ With each glance and every little movement you show it”
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was created and produced in part by future film director James L. Brooks, who drew on his experience working in broadcast journalism as he would do later for his feature film Broadcast News (1987).
Over a seven-year run, the show won a record 27 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy awards in 1975, 1976 and 1977.
On her way out the door in the last episode, Mary took one last look around the newsroom set, then turned out the lights. I really miss those disastrous dinner parties that she used to throw.
Mary Tyler Moore
Gordon ‘Gordy’ Howard
Georgette Franklin Baxter
Sue Ann Nivens