For the longest period of time, I couldn't understand the appeal of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". Having caught the occasional episode every now and then, the series struck me as being somewhat "ordinary" in nature. However, at the beginning of 2002, I began to watch the series on a regular basis, right from it's first season and found to my surprise, what a funny, insightful and entertaining sitcom it was.
Mary Tyler Moore deserves kudos for her portrayal of Mary Richards, a ground-breaking character who was allowed to be her own person (a rare thing for female characters on television in those days). An intelligent, independent young woman in her 30's, whose wasn't "hung up" on not being married, and enjoyed her life and her career. The rest of the cast also deserve mention for their memorable performances. Ed Asner as the gruff, yet lovable Lou Grant (Mary's boss at WJM-TV), Valerie Harper as the sharp and sassy Rhoda Morgenstern (Mary's best friend and next door neighbour), Gavin Macloud as the witty & thoughtful Murray Slaughter (Mary's fellow work mate at WJM), the late Ted Knight as the self absorbed and talentless Ted Baxter (who "anchored" the news in more ways than one at WJM-TV) and Cloris Leachman as the flighty and somewhat over-opininated Phyllis Lindstorm (Mary's other next door neighbour and friend).
The show was fortunate enough to benefit from first rate scripts from talented writers such as Jim Brooks & Allan Burns (both of whom created the series), Treva Silverman, David Lloyd, Bob Ellison and Ed Weinberger.
Along with solid direction from vetran TV sitcom director Jay Sandrich (of "I Love Lucy" fame), it comes as no surprise that the series was both a critical and commerical success during it's seven year run on US television from 1970 to 1977. The show also benefited from later additions to the cast such as Georgia Engel as the sweet natured, yet rather naive Georgette Franklin (who was introduced into the series as a love interest for the idiotic Ted Baxter) and Betty White as the conniving & man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens (host of "The Happy Homemaker" show at WJM-TV). On screen, she is the image of domestic knowledge and bliss, but once the camera's have stopped rolling, she is a woman on the prowl, striking at any man within distance (single or otherwise) who grabs her fancy!!. Earning a whole swag of Emmy Awards, the show was highly praised and rewarded for it's stellar efforts. I recommended those who are unfamiliar with the show to watch the series from the beginning, to appreciate and understand the nature of what it's all about. The humour is natural and witty (unlike many other sitcoms where the laughs are either forced or over-the-top). The characters grow and change over the years (once again unlike many other comedy shows), and the series itself contains it's own warmth and natural charm. Check it out and see why this lady can still turn the whole world on with that smile ...
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