The complete series set of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman from Shout! Factory will be released tomorrow and I received a review copy this morning. Obviously I will not be able to give it a proper review right away, but due to the controversy over the botched Volume 1 set which was released in 2007 I want to let fans of the show know that it appears that this set has rectified those problems.
For the benefit of those who are unaware of the problems with the original release, it was apparent that there were problems with Episodes 22, 24 and 25. Episode 22 was missing the final scene where Charlie and Loretta Haggers are on their way to Nashville. Their car breaks down due to a radiator leak and they meet up with two hillbillies. The entire scene was missing. Instead, it was replaced with a kitchen scene from episode 23, and that scene remained in episode 23. Episode 24 was missing a scene where Charlie and Loretta are talking in the car after they get back on the road.
Sony never provided an explanation for the edited episodes, but earlier this year HTF member Mark Tay figured it out:
I finally figured out the strange edits on three episodes of the DVD set from Sony. To understand what happened we have to start back at the very, very beginning… Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman premiered on January 5th 1976 (at least on stations which were early adopters of this syndicated soap opera spoof). It ran weekdays (i.e. five episodes per week) with continuous new episodes through Friday, July 2nd 1976. At which point, having been on the air for 26 weeks and tallying up 130 unique episodes, it reached the end of “season one.” It was now time for cast and crew to take a well deserved break. Producer Norman Lear announced that videotaping of season two would begin in early August 1976, with the season two premiere occurring on Monday October 4th 1976. Unfortunately for rabid fans of the show, this left a gap of 13 weeks from the end of season one until the premiere of season two. Obviously re-runs from season one would be broadcast during the gap, however with a slight twist. An editor took the best (or most important) sequences from the original 130 episodes and created a new digest version of season one, condensed down to only 65 episodes. This digest version of season one allowed new fans of the show, to catch up on all that had transpired previously, and created a very nice build up as well as smooth transition right into season two. In 2007 Sony released the first volume of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman on DVD. Their intent was to include the first 25 episodes of season one, complete and unedited. However, three episodes on the DVD set were mistakenly substituted with digest versions from 1976. This unfortunate mix up occurs on what should have been episodes 22, 24 and 25. Owners of the DVD set can rest assured that the remaining episodes are all complete as originally aired. One can easily distinguish original early episodes by their end credits which crawl up the screen. The end credits on the digest versions fade in and out.
The first thing I did upon opening the complete series set was to look at episodes 22, 23, 24 and 25. The missing scenes have been restored and the duplicated kitchen scene appears only in episode 23. Each episode which I previewed has the crawl end credits, which signifies that these are the original, unedited episodes.
The picture quality is very good. The 325 episodes are spread across 36 discs.
Extras: There are two bonus discs which contain the extras. First is "Inside the Funhouse Mirror," in which creator Normal Lear and stars Louise Lasser and Mary Kay Place discuss the making of the show. "On the Verge Of..." has Lear and Lasser recalling the "nervous breakdown" episode.
We also get ten complete episodes of Fernwood 2 Night, the spinoff spoof of TV talk shows starring Martin Mull and Fred Willard.
Also included is a 40-page illustrated booklet which contains a complete episode guide.
From what I have seen so far, I am confident that fans of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman will be pleased with this set.
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