While she might have turned the world on with a smile, Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) found her life in a rut. The series was still funny dealing with her working life at WJM-TV in Minneapolis, but her homelife was lacking. Mainly this void came from both Rhoda and Phyllis being spun off to her own shows on either coast. Why did Mary maintain her apartment in the house that lacked any notable neighbors? Thus on “Mary Moves Out,” she takes control of her situation, packs up her M and heads downtown. The change of residence breathes new life in the episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Sixth Season. Although the most memorable moment would belong to a co-worker spun off to the grave.
“Mary Moves Out” has her sick of her life. She decides to make a few drastic changes to reduce the predictability. She even shows up at work as a blond. Lou Grant (Up‘s Ed Asner) and Murray Slaughter (The Love Boat‘s Gavin MacLeod) do treat her different with the lighter hairdo. Her ultimate change is to get out of Phyllis’ house since her favorite landlady has no intention of returning from San Francisco. It’s bittersweet to see her pack up the apartment, but a change was needed.
“Ted’s Moment of Glory” teases us with the idea of a Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) spin-off. Ted finds his mad TV skills in demand for an upcoming game show. People ride on fake horses as they answer questions that Ted butchers. His ability to botch the obvious makes him the top choice of the producers. He also appreciates the money. Lou Grant is thrilled at the prospect of seeing Ted run off to become the new Wink Martindale. But will the pangs of losing his whipping boy make Ed reconsider? “Mary Richards Falls In Love” has Mary dating the Impeccable Hair of Ted Bessell (That Girl). Does Marlo Thomas know her That Girl man was heating it up in Minnesota? Things get complicated on “One Boyfriend Too Many” when she must decided between Ted and another man. How can anyone refuse the power of Ted Bessell’s impeccable hair?
“Mary’s Delinquent” has her signing up to be a big sister to Mackenzie Phillips. Judging from Mackenzie’s stint on Celebrity Rehab, Mary did a rather bad job. Sue Ann Nivens (Golden Girls‘ Betty White), the station’s Happy Homemaker outdoes Mary by getting her own little sister. “Ted’s Wedding” has the anchor marrying Georgette (Georgia Engel). Instead of a fancy wedding they get hitched by John Ritter (Three’s Company) in Mary’s new apartment. Lou has plenty of love hang ups this season. “Edie Gets Married” has his ex-wife getting hitched. He’s not happy. “Lou Douses an Old Flame” has him reunite with a woman that wrote him a “Dear John” letter during his wartime service. “The Happy Homemaker Takes Lou Home” has him out of the night with Sue Ann. Is she going to make him breakfast? Their story continues into “Once I Had a Secret Love.” “Menage-a-Lou” has him date Penny Marshall when his ex-lover arrives with Jeff Conaway (Taxi and Celebrity Rehab). Lou’s finest moment comes in “The Seminar” when he takes Mary to Washington D.C. He talks of outrageous times with his old Capitol Hill contacts, but the phone doesn’t ring. Mary settles for dates with Dabney Coleman. First Lady Betty Ford makes a cameo. She’s best known now for her rehab center. This season does have a future rehab theme.
“Chuckles Bites the Dust” is the pinnacle of sitcom genius thanks to writer David Lloyd. This is a script that ought to be put on display at the Smithsonian. The station’s often mentioned, but rarely seen clown that hosts kiddie shows gets to lead the circus parade. Ted is upset since he was offered the honor, but Lou decided Chuckles was better suited for such an event. Things go completely wrong as word reaches the station that there’s been a major accident. Chuckles has died in the most disturbing of ways. The humor goes extremely dark as they go to the clown’s funeral. Can you cry for a clown’s death? Every line in this episode plays to perfection like a poem. Lloyd rightfully won the Emmy for best script.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Sixth Season is a solid 24 episodes of comedy. Even with the various changing in characters thanks to spin-offs, the show didn’t lose its core chemistry. The office comedy clicked. The liberated single woman angle didn’t get stale. They found a way to turn a funeral for a minor character into a morbid comedy masterpiece. The series deserved it’s Emmy for best comedy this season.
“Edie Gets Married,” “Mary Moves Out,” “Mary’s Father,” “Murray In Love,” “Ted’s Moment of Glory,” “Mary’s Aunt,” “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” “Mary’s Delinquent,” “Ted’s Wedding,” “Lou Douses an Old Flame,” “Mary Richards Falls in Love,” “Ted’s Tax Refund,” “The Happy Homemaker Takes Lou Home,” “One Boyfriend Too Many,”
“What Do You Want to Do When You Produce?,” “Not With My Wife, I Don’t,” “The Seminar,” “Once I Had a Secret Love,” “Menage-a-Lou,” “Murray Takes a Stand,” “Mary’s Aunt Returns,” “A Reliable Source,” “Sue Ann Falls in Love” and “Ted and the Kid.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers will let you see that Mary’s new apartment needs a little fixing up. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are good enough to cover Ed’s growl and Georgette’s tweets. The subtitles are in English and Spanish.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Sixth Season is a must own for fans of great sitcoms. “Chuckles Bites the Dust” is the gold standard of smart sitcoms. The season also brings us the greatness of Ted Bessell as the man who might marry Mary. Having Mary move out of her old apartment didn’t destroy the magic of the series.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Sixth Season. Starring: Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Ted Knight and Betty White. Boxset Contents: 24 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: February 2, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.