THE MARY TYLER MOORE
There are certain television series that are the epitome of classic sitcoms and there are others that have that distinction applied as a marketing ploy to sell more copies of a DVD release. THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW is the true epitome of a classic sitcom, as we as being a classy one to boot. From 1970 to 1977 THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW had it all… the series was warm, heartfelt, intelligently written, featured very memorable characters and best of all, the show was genuinely funny, with moments of sidesplitting hilarity. During its seven-year television run, it picked up three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, in addition to another twenty-six Emmy’s in other categories.
For those who may not have seen the series, the premise of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW centered around the exploits of Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), a single thirty something year old, who moved to Minneapolis after breaking off an engagement, and is quickly hired as associate producer for WJM-TV's Six O'Clock News broadcast. Surrounding Mary Richards are the other characters that inhabit the world of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. Lou Grant (Edward Asner) is Mary’s tough, but lovable boss, who treats Mary like a daughter, but has no problem putting the station’s dimwitted news anchor in his place. Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) is the Six O'Clock News’ lead copywriter, Mary’s best friend at the station, and can always be counted on for a snappy comeback. Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) is the pompous, but none too bright news anchor, who has an affinity for screwing up Murray’s carefully written copy. Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) hosts WJM-TV's The Happy Homemaker show, but her man-chasing ways have earned her the nickname The Happy Homewrecker, and when she isn’t hanging around the newsroom to express her interests with Lou, she is usually trading hilarious barbs with Murray. Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel) is Ted’s naďve, but wonderfully sweet girlfriend. Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) is Mary’s high-strung landlady, who whose comic orbit intersects Mary’s on a regular basis.
THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON ($30) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features the following twenty-four episodes that were aired during season five: Will Mary Richards Go To Jail?, Not Just Another Pretty Face, You Sometimes Hurt The One You Hate, Lou And That Woman, The Outsider, I Love A Piano, A New Sue Ann, Menage-A-Phyllis, Not A Christmas Story, What Are Friends For?, A Boy's Best Friend, A Son For Murray, Neighbors, A Girl Like Mary, An Affair To Forget, Mary Richards: Producer, The System, Phyllis Whips Inflation, The Shame Of The Cities, Marriage Minneapolis Style, You Try To Be A Nice Guy, You Can't Lose 'Em All, Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcasters' School and Anyone Who Hates Kids And Dogs. Highlights of season five include Mary making a sacrifice for journalistic integrity; Murray faces a one midlife crisis, then decides he wants a son; Sue Ann faces shades of ALL ABOUT EVE; the news team find themselves snowbound and quickly developing cabin fever; Mary is promoted to producer, then decides she wants the responsibility that comes with the title; Phyllis finds her credit cards cut off and then discovers she has no marketable skills when trying to get a job; and Ted is conned into lending his name to a school.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made all twenty-four episodes that comprise THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON available on DVD in the full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes look really nice, and certainly better than any cable level syndicated re-broadcast. Everything appears fairly crisp and pretty nicely defined, but there are some soft looking spots. Colors can be fairly vibrant, but seventies color schemes, sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Blacks and whites are accurate, while the sitcom lighting limits the contrast and tends to flatten out the picture. The film elements have some grain, as well as minor signs of age. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.
All of the episodes that constitute THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON feature Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks, which sound perfectly fine. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the episode soundtracks with a respectable sonic quality. The music has adequate fidelity and Sonny Curtis’ theme song, Love Is All Around, sounds fine, if a bit thin. Dialogue is crisp and always totally understandable. No other language tracks are present, but English and Spanish subtitles are provided.
The interactive menus provide access to the standard episode selection features, but alas, no supplemental content has been provided.
THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW remains one of the greatest sitcoms and one of the best television shows ever produced. The DVD collection looks and sounds quite pleasing. Here’s to a swift release of the remaining two seasons. Highly recommended.
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