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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Sixth Season


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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 07 2010 - 08:13 AM

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Sixth Season

Directed by Jay Sandrich et al

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 1975-1976
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 624 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English 
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.98

Release Date: February 2, 2010
Review Date: February 7, 2010
 
 
The Series
5/5
 
In the annuls of television comedy, the number of classics spanning the more than sixty year history of television includes everything from early black and white treasures like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and The Dick Van Dyke Show to more recent smashes like Friends, Frasier, and Cheers. For my money, however, the comedy series that ranks as the greatest of all time, the one with the most consistently brilliant writing, acting, and staging season after season for its entire seven-year run is The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The twenty-four episodes which make up the contents of its penultimate season on the air rank among the best written and performed in the history of the medium. With not a dud episode in the bunch, this season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is perhaps my favorite, and the Emmys certainly agreed that year. The show won as the Best Comedy Series as well as acting awards for Mary Tyler Moore, Ted Knight, and Betty White and nominations for Edward Asner (who won his own Emmy this season for drama in Rich Man, Poor Man), Georgia Engel, and guest star Eileen Heckart as Mary’s Aunt Flo. The show also captured the best comedy writing Emmy this season for the episode many critics choose as the greatest in the history of the show and possibly of all shows – “Chuckles Bites the Dust” along with a nomination for its director (Joan Darling).
 
Yes, it was indeed a memorable season. Among the hilarious highlights were Ted (Ted Knight) and Georgette (Georgia Engel)’s impromptu wedding, Mary (Mary Tyler Moore)’s move to a new, more spacious apartment, Murray (Gavin McLeod)’s avowal of love for Mary, Murray’s becoming Sue Ann (Betty White)’s producer, Ted's turn as a game show emcee, Sue Ann and Lou (Edward Asner) finally having their first date, and Mary’s serious love affair with engineer Joe Warren (Ted Bessell). The series aired its quota of bittersweet episodes, too, laced with the character-based comedy it is so renowned for: Lou’s quiet heartbreak at seeing ex-wife Edie getting remarried, Ted’s struggle with impotency and his later troubles in conceiving a child with Georgette, Mary’s temptation to reconnect with an old heartthrob (Michael Tolan) at the risk of losing Joe, Sue Ann’s admission of a lonely life and later being duped by a lecherous boyfriend, Mary’s innocent breaking of trust with Lou over a secret of his, and, of course, the brilliant handling of mixed emotions inherent in the death of Chuckles the Clown.
 
So what makes the show so masterful, on a pedestal above so many other classic comedies? The brilliance basically lies in its ability to burrow beneath the stereotypes that each character springs from: Mary’s goody-goodiness, Lou’s irascibility, Ted’s idiocy, Murray’s sarcasm, Georgette’s dim-wittedness, and Sue Ann’s man-hunger. Watching an entire season of shows reveals that each of the characters has far deeper complexities than these one dimensional outer characteristics. Lou has a tremendous warmth masked by his bearish toughness. Much insight into human nature is hidden by Georgette’s quiet befuddlement and banal outer shell. Sue Ann’s desperate need to be liked and admired by all is hidden by her outrageous ego and air of superiority. Are Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman missed in their Emmy Award-winning portrayals of Rhoda and Phyllis? You bet! (Each lady was starring in her own series by this point based on these characters; in fact, Mary Tyler Moore defeated both Harper and Leachman this season to win the Best Actress Emmy for comedy.) But the ensemble is so strong and composed of so many emotional colors that losing those two rich characters doesn’t actually weaken the series’ overall ability to tell stories grounded in humanity and laced with the outstanding character-intensive comedy that continues to delight decades after these shows originally aired.
 
Here are the twenty-four episodes housed on three discs that make up the sixth season’s output:
 
1 – Edie Gets Married
2 – Mary Moves Out
3 – Mary’s Father
4 – Murray in Love
5 – Ted’s Moment of Glory
6 – Mary’s Aunt
7 – Chuckles Bites the Dust
8 – Mary’s Delinquent
9 – Ted’s Wedding
10 – Lou Douses an Old Flame
11 – Mary Richards Falls in Love
12 – Ted’s Tax Refund
13 – The Happy Homemaker Takes Lou Home
14 – One Boyfriend Too Many
15 – What Do You Want to Do When You Produce?
16 – Not With My Wife, I Don’t
17 – The Seminar
18 – Once I Had a Secret Love
19 – Ménage-a-Lou
20 – Murray Takes a Stand
21 – Mary’s Aunt Returns
22 – A Reliable Source
23 – Sue Ann Falls in Love
24 – Ted and the Kid
 
 
Video Quality
3/5
 
The program’s 1.33:1 aspect ratio is delivered faithfully in these transfers. Sadly, sharpness is erratic in most of the programs. Medium shots usually look good with nice color values and an acceptable level of detail. However, close-ups are another matter. Though soft focus photography was not an unknown quantity on comedy shows (Doris Day used it extensively on her television series), close-ups vary between sharp and soft, often with the same character, throughout the episodes in this set. There are also occasional examples of moiré patterns and aliasing. There are random specks of dirt and debris that crop up reasonably often, too. Each episode has been divided into 10 chapters, and the menus for each episode allow for scene specific jumps.
 
 
Audio Quality
3.5/5
 
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio track is decoded by Prologic properly into the center channel. Very typical of the era in which these shows were produced, the mono track allows the heavily verbal comedy a clean, precise airing with background music and effects in the midrange acceptable but certainly not possessing sterling fidelity.
 
 
Special Features
0/5
 
There are no bonus features at all with this set.
 
 
 
 
In Conclusion
4.5/5 (not an average)
 
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was and is one of the most revered situation comedies in the history of network television. The twenty-four episodes in this set from its next-to-last season on the air give monumental testament to its unimpeachable quality. Even without the greatest video and audio encode possible and no bonus features, the series earns my highest recommendation!
 
 
 
Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC


#2 of 6 OFFLINE   EricSchulz

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Posted February 11 2010 - 01:35 AM

I'm REALLY trying to pace myself with this set...still on disc one!  Can't wait to have the entire series...there's a light at the end of what was a VERY dark tunnel!

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 11 2010 - 02:45 AM

Yes, I never thought we'd be this close to completion. I didn't receive Season 5 to review so I bought it for myself some months ago after its release and have been so busy that I haven't gotten to rewatching those yet.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted February 11 2010 - 01:47 PM

Matt,

You'll want to change the various references to "25 episodes" in your review to 24. You've got "Mary's Aunt" listed twice.

http://DVP-Potpourri.blogspot.com/2009/11/mary-tyler-moore-show.html


#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 11 2010 - 02:13 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by David Von Pein View Post

Matt,

You'll want to change the various references to "25 episodes" in your review to 24. You've got "Mary's Aunt" listed twice.

http://DVP-Potpourri.blogspot.com/2009/11/mary-tyler-moore-show.html
 
Thanks for catching this slip. I'll rectify as soon as possible.


#6 of 6 OFFLINE   EricSchulz

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Posted February 28 2010 - 11:05 AM

Just finished watching the last disc.  The second to last episode (IIRC) is REALLY ahead of its' time!   It follows a "contest" between Lou and Aunt Flo to produce a better documentary about a couple that both enter into second marriages with a total of 20 kids between them.  When the couple decides to divorce, they argue as to whether the documentary should cover the divorce angle.  One feels it's part of the story, one feels it's being exploitative.  How Jon and Kate!