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The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Third Season -- A Personal Review


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#1 of 93 David Von Pein

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Posted January 18 2006 - 08:01 PM

THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

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Posted Image ***** FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE ***** Posted Image

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The sensational and laugh-filled third season of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" hit DVD in an attractive 3-Disc set from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on January 17th, 2006, only six months after Season 2 was released (not bad at all, especially when compared to the 34-month wait MTM fans had between the Season-One and Season-Two DVD releases).

Season 3 of TMTMS (originally seen on CBS-TV during the 1972-1973 television campaign) has several highly-memorable episodes mixed in amongst its 24-show roster -- such as: "My Brother's Keeper", "Rhoda Morgenstern: Minneapolis To New York", "Operation: Lou", "You've Got A Friend", and the hilarious "Put On A Happy Face".

The "Happy Face" episode has Mary suffering from a variety of ailments, injuries, and afflictions just prior to having to go to the annual "Teddy Awards" banquet. It's one of my all-time favorite MTM installments. I'd recommend freeze-framing that episode at the 9:36 point in the program for a funny "Mary In Mid-Air" moment. I only wish I were Lou Grant in that particular scene. Posted Image

And also remember to keep your ears perked for "The MTM Honker" (aka, show executive James L. Brooks). Brooks likes to occasionally let loose from behind the cameras with the funniest doggone laugh I've ever heard (which sounds more like a "honk" to me). I love it when he lets fly with one unexpectedly. He gets off one or two in the "Happy Face" episode, and many other eps. as well. (And if you have any videos of Mary's spin-off series, "Rhoda", you can hear James honkin' up a storm throughout many of those shows too. He's a riot all by himself, IMO.)

Also in the "Happy Face" show, listen for another of the great lines of dialogue that the MTM writers regularly give to Rhoda (played to a tee by Valerie Harper):

Mary: "Rhoda, chocolate solves nothing."
Rhoda: "No, no -- cottage cheese solves nothing; chocolate can do it all." Posted Image

Posted Image ~ Honk, honk! ~ Posted Image

Like the first two full-season DVD sets of this always-delightful TV series, the complete third-season collection sparkles brightly in the A/V departments. The video looks crisp and clean, with warm colors, and the Dolby Digital (mono) audio sounds just fine. No complaints from this writer whatsoever.

The bright, bold colors that can be found in this TV series are really brought to the forefront during the scenes which take place in Rhoda's apartment. That lady lives in a veritable rainbow of color up above Mary's place on "North Weatherly" in Minneapolis. And those many hues look fabulous on these Digital Discs too. As does the show's star, Mary Tyler Moore. Mary looks positively stunning throughout this third season. Wow! Posted Image

But unlike the two earlier MTM DVD boxed sets, this third installment lacks any special bonus supplements. But I kind of figured that would be the case many months ago even before it came out. The first two seasonal sets contained quite a lot of extra material, and there just might not be a whole lot left to dig up in the "bonus" department. (Although a few of the original CBS-TV promo clips would have been nice. But even without a single bonus item, this set is a required purchase for fans of TMTMS and fans of Mary Tyler Moore herself.)

The twenty-four shows (8 per disc) in this boxed set, as far as I can determine, are all complete and uncut episodes. I've performed a running-time check for each of the eight programs on Disc 1, and those shows have an average run time of 25:35. That stat certainly favors the use of the word "uncut" for sure! Here are the exact run times for those eight shows (you'll note a consistent trend):

"The Good-Time News" -- 25:34.
"What Is Mary Richards Really Like?" -- 25:31.
"Who's In Charge Here?" -- 25:36.
"Enter Rhoda's Parents" -- 25:35.
"It's Whether You Win Or Lose" -- 25:35.
"Rhoda The Beautiful" -- 25:36.
"Just Around The Corner" -- 25:36.
"But Seriously, Folks" -- 25:36.

A nice addition to this collection that many DVD buyers will appreciate is the inclusion of a "Play All" option on each of the three discs. Seasons 1 and 2 have no such marathon-playing choice. (Good job, Fox!)

The static and music-free DVD Menus have a different look to them vs. the previous two MTM sets, with Season Three featuring a faster response time when a Menu selection is made too. The previous sets have a short built-in "delay" when moving around the Menu system. There is a slight delay when accessing exactly half of the episodes in this third-season set (the last 4 episodes on each disc to be precise, which I imagine represents the shows on Layer #2 of each DVD), but it seems to me as though it's less of a delay that the earlier seasons.

I like the Menus very much; there are Sub-Menus for "Language Selection" and "Scene Selection" (with all text written out in the familiar "MTM" type font, featuring that unique mix of both lower-case and capital letters).

I cannot figure out, however, why Fox made these Season-Three Menus all "anamorphic" in nature. But they did. Which is a bit odd, because the episodes themselves, of course, are not anamorphically-enhanced (because they don't need to be, being Full-Frame 4x3 material in the first place). This is not an uncommon occurrence amongst DVD products though. But it is slightly irritating, because IMO a DVD for a Full-Frame program should maintain a Full-Frame (i.e., non-anamorphic) profile throughout its presentation, including the Menu structure.

The DVD packaging here is identical in style to that of the Season-Two set, with three plastic thin/slim cases utilized to hold the three single-sided discs. The three plastic cases slide into an open-ended outer cardboard carton (a slipcase box). Nothing fancy here; it's very simple and utilitarian, but it's a nice-looking and classy package just the same. (Although the lack of any official "DVD-Video" logo on the spine of the outer box seems a tad odd to me. The Season-Two set doesn't have any such "DVD" logo on its spine either. But the first-season set does have the logo. No big deal, of course. It's just something I always expect to see on the spines of virtually all DVD packages. Oh well.)

When I first saw the box-cover photo of Mary for this set I wasn't too thrilled with the look of it. It seems a bit awkward and unnatural-looking, with Mary seemingly sitting on thin air. But when I got the boxed set in my hands, the cover art started to grow on me. Now I kind of like it. (Heck, it's the lovely MTM after all, so it can't possibly be that bad.) Posted Image

The same front-of-the-box picture of Mary also adorns each of the three plastic inner cases as well. And there's a terrific (and funny) photo of Mary and Ted Knight ("Ted Baxter") on the back of the box.

Overall, I'm very impressed with this third-year Mary set, despite no bonus stuff being included. What especially pleases me about this particular collection is the fact that 20th Century Fox didn't just give up on the MTM Show following what I heard were disappointing sales for the first-season set. Since Fox already had Season #2 "in the can" (or close to it) when they released Season 1 in September 2002, it seemed logical to assume that that second set would also hit the market eventually too (which it did, albeit after a very long wait).

But Season Three was a different matter. I suppose Fox could have just tossed aside any thoughts of future MTM releases following those poor S.1 profits. But they didn't abandon Mary, and I, for one, am grateful for that decision. And not only didn't they abandon this classic TV series, they didn't cut corners on video quality for S.3 either. The PQ is every bit as good as the first two season sets. Plus, Fox even saw fit to improve some things over the previous DVD sets -- such as adding the Play-All feature and revising the Menu system to make it a bit more user-friendly (and faster). Hats off to the Fox folks!


A few more stats and loose ends re. this MTM-3 set:

VIDEO -- Standard TV ratio of 1.33:1 (as originally aired).
AUDIO -- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English only). No Spanish tracks provided this time 'round.
SUBTITLES -- In English and Spanish.
CHAPTER BREAKS? -- Yes. 10 Chapters per episode.
"PLAY ALL" INCLUDED? -- Yes.
INSERTS? -- No Episode Guide booklet is included. A multi-page ad for other Fox DVDs is in here though. (Some good series in there too.)
REGION CODE -- Region 1 (NTSC).

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It's a pretty safe bet that if you've got the first couple of seasons of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on DVD, you shall desire to own this third-season pack too. It's filled with 24 great episodes from a TV series that earned its reputation as one of the best television programs of its era.

So, why not ask Mary (Season Three) for a date tonight? She can't possibly say no -- because you've got the Season-Three DVDs (and the remote control too). Posted Image


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#2 of 93 ElijahS

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Posted January 19 2006 - 12:08 AM

Thanks for the review, David!
- Elijah

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#3 of 93 pitchman

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Posted January 19 2006 - 01:55 AM

David, thanks for the great review! My copy has not arrived yet, but I eagerly look forward to it. A quick question, if you don't mind. Does this season include any Betty White episodes? I don't remember if she came on in season three or season four, but I always greatly enjoyed her "Happy Homemaker" antics. Thanks!
Gary

#4 of 93 Joseph Bolus

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Posted January 19 2006 - 02:11 AM

Thanks for the review! I'm picking this up today!
Joseph
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#5 of 93 Jaime_Weinman

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Posted January 19 2006 - 03:44 AM

Quote:
Does this season include any Betty White episodes?

No; Sue Ann joined the show in season 4.

#6 of 93 Will Krupp

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Posted January 19 2006 - 03:55 AM

To be exact, she makes her first appearance in the premiere episode of Season 4. It still cracks me up every time I think of Betty White slamming that oven door shut with her KNEE!

#7 of 93 David Von Pein

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Posted January 19 2006 - 06:56 AM

Here's something odd I took note of in the episode "Put On A Happy Face" --- At the beginning of Mary's really bad day (day #1 in a series of bad days actually), Mary spills coffee on her brand-new sweater and wrestles with the stain.

Ted then comes into the office and is handed the same cracked coffee cup to drink from. He drinks some and coffee spills on him too. But Ted never notices at all.

The funny (and strange) part of this (to me) is that I've watched this episode several times in the past and actually had thought Ted had not spilled any coffee on him (with the resulting joke being: Everything bad today will ONLY happen to Mary, with everyone else around her immune to such calamities).

But when watching this scene on the new, crystal-clear DVD, for the first time I noticed the coffee spilling on Ted's coat and tie from the cracked cup.

I was surprised when I saw that coffee on Ted, having thought for years that Ted somehow had not doused himself that day.

Now I doubt the DVD is THAT much clearer than TV-Land prints or other possible sources so that the spill is invisible in those non-DVD sources. So I guess it was just me who never took note of the coffee getting on the Ted-ster.

But, to tell the truth, if the coffee had NOT spilled on Ted (as I had always previously believed), it really does make that scene funnier, in the previously-mentioned "Only Mary's Gonna Have Bad Luck Today" sort of way.

Anyway, that's my long-winded meaningless MTM tale for today. (Perhaps someone else can chime in and make me feel better by relaying the same story about not having noticed that coffee coming from that cracked cup. At this rambling stage in this post, it would, indeed, make me feel like less of an idiot. Posted Image Posted Image)

#8 of 93 ElijahS

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Posted January 19 2006 - 07:35 AM

Hmm. That's interesting. I'll need to check that out when I get my set (hopefully tonight).

One quick question: are the discs single-sided? I love that there's now a "Play All" option (which I prefer over Special Features - now it's easier to watch in marathon form!), but I know that The Bob Newhart Show has "Play All" with double-sided discs.
- Elijah

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STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIPThe all-new drama from the creator of THE WEST WING and SPORTS NIGHTPremiering this fall on NBCThe last five minutes of St. Elsewhere is the only television show, ever. Everything else is a daydream.

#9 of 93 David Von Pein

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Posted January 19 2006 - 07:42 AM

Hi Elijah.......

Yes, the three MTM discs are 1-sided. And I'm ashamed of you for not noticing that specific reference in my review above. Just for that, YOU get to drink from that cracked coffee cup next! Posted Image Posted Image

"The DVD packaging here is identical in style to that of the Season-Two set, with three plastic thin/slim cases utilized to hold the three single-sided discs." -- From above review

#10 of 93 ElijahS

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Posted January 19 2006 - 07:50 AM

I kept looking before I asked, and I somehow missed that line!:b Not that it was a deciding factor or anything for this show (it's Mary, after all!), but it's nice to know. I just hope my package arrived today, so I can start with the set. After watching the second season, I realized that I've not seen all that many episodes of the series (I'm 18, and TV Land stopped airing episodes a while ago, so DVDs are the only way I'll see many of the episodes).
- Elijah

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STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIPThe all-new drama from the creator of THE WEST WING and SPORTS NIGHTPremiering this fall on NBCThe last five minutes of St. Elsewhere is the only television show, ever. Everything else is a daydream.

#11 of 93 Marty M

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Posted January 19 2006 - 10:45 AM

Elijah,
Glad to see that you are enjoying the MTM Show. I have been a huge fan of this show since its broadcast days in the 70s. Now lets hope they continue on with releasing the rest of this great series.

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#12 of 93 Mike Frezon

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Posted January 19 2006 - 01:15 PM

Quote:
And those many hues look fabulous on these Digital Discs too. As does the show's star, Mary Tyler Moore. Mary looks positively stunning throughout this third season. Wow! Posted Image


Quote:
When I first saw the box-cover photo of Mary for this set I wasn't too thrilled with the look of it. It seems a bit awkward and unnatural-looking, with Mary seemingly sitting on thin air. But when I got the boxed set in my hands, the cover art started to grow on me. Now I kind of like it. (Heck, it's the lovely MTM after all, so it can't possibly be that bad.) Posted Image

Quote:
I'd recommend freeze-framing that episode at the 9:36 point in the program for a funny "Mary In Mid-Air" moment. I only wish I were Lou Grant in that particular scene. Posted Image
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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#13 of 93 David Von Pein

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Posted January 19 2006 - 02:52 PM

Thanks Mike (and others). Posted Image

Did you freeze "Happy Face" @ 9:36? Posted Image

#14 of 93 ElijahS

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Posted January 19 2006 - 03:01 PM

I'm watching in order now, so I'll get to it at some point by tomorrow (thank God for no school on Fridays!). Now that I've seen the set, I must say I was surprised by the menu design, but I like it in a way. I can see the problem of sticking with the design from the first two seasons, since those two only deviated in basic menu color.
- Elijah

My TV DVD Collection

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIPThe all-new drama from the creator of THE WEST WING and SPORTS NIGHTPremiering this fall on NBCThe last five minutes of St. Elsewhere is the only television show, ever. Everything else is a daydream.

#15 of 93 JohnMor

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Posted January 19 2006 - 03:49 PM

I am beyond thrilled to have this season, and to have them look as good as they do. I really thought they may cut back on the video quality if they ever released the remaining seasons. While I LOVE to see the Emmy clips, the most important thing is to have the eps unedited and looking as spectacular as they do. Yeah!!

When I read the warning about the video quality on the final ep of the season ("Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady") on the back of the cover for Disc 3, I was really worried, as that is one of my fave eps. To my relief, it looked as great as the others to me. I'm still trying to figure out what prompted their warning. (Possibly the VERY slight wavering of the image at the start of the tag scene?)

#16 of 93 David Von Pein

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Posted January 19 2006 - 07:40 PM

Quote:
When I read the warning about the video quality on the final ep of the season ("Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady") on the back of the cover for Disc 3, I was really worried...
I'll be dipped...I hadn't even noticed that disclaimer on the Disc-Three sleeve.

The disclaimer for that ep. reads as follows:

"This episode has been restored to the best quality possible given the vintage source material."

Seems a bit of an odd general kind of disclaimer, seeing as how the other 23 episodes are surely from "vintage source material" as well. Posted Image

(This probably translates to "...given the poorer vintage source material" for that one ep.)

#17 of 93 Rob P S

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Posted January 20 2006 - 02:50 PM

What's the episode when Murray, referring to Ted, says "I just lost a duel of wits to an unarmed opponent."?

#18 of 93 David Rain

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Posted January 20 2006 - 03:29 PM

Am I the only one who actually likes the 3rd season artwork ? I thought the previous 2 looked a bit "Photo Shopped" to me.
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#19 of 93 ElijahS

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Posted January 20 2006 - 03:35 PM

I like it. It's actually my favorite of the three covers so far. I don't care for Lou and Rhoda being on the Season 2 cover, and Mary's face looks strange on the Season 1 cover. Mary just looks stunning on the Season 3 cover, and the red/white color scheme on the cover looks incredible.
- Elijah

My TV DVD Collection

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIPThe all-new drama from the creator of THE WEST WING and SPORTS NIGHTPremiering this fall on NBCThe last five minutes of St. Elsewhere is the only television show, ever. Everything else is a daydream.

#20 of 93 David Von Pein

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Posted January 20 2006 - 07:34 PM

Quote:
When I read the warning about the video quality on the final ep of the season ("Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady") on the back of the cover for Disc 3...
Just watched that one....and, like you said, it looks as good as the other eps. in S.3. However, also as stated earlier in thread by John M., the tag scene is a bit fluttery/wobbly, but even most of it looks good too. Odd that such a disclaimer would need to be placed on the packaging for about 11 seconds of unstable imagery. But, I guess thanks should go to Fox for such intense honesty, even for just seconds' worth of mildly-subpar video PQ.

But the bulk of "Plant Lady" looks terrific. BTW, that's the ep. where Rhoda surprises Mary by putting a down payment on a brand-new (yellow) car. Mary hates yellow. Posted Image

And check out the "plant" scene in Rhoda's apartment. The colors are brilliant there.


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