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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Situation Comedy > The Mary Tyler Moore Show - The Complete Second Season

The Mary Tyler Moore Show – The Complete Second Season


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B+



For years, The Mary Tyler Moore Show has been a high watermark for excellence in television and deservedly so.  It is also one of those shows where bad prints had been circulating far too long in syndication and cable outlets.  In some cases, DVD issues of such series have been mixed at best (Rod Serling’s Night Gallery for example), but Fox and company have taken the time to fix up the shows and they may have looked better on TV, but they are looking unbelievably good on DVD.


The Complete Second Season is a three-disc set that offers all of the shows on three DVDs, with the flipside of the final disc offering an amazing number of extras.  There are a few audio commentaries and as you will see in the following list, it was among the early TV series that delivered cleaver titles as great as the teleplays that made the show work so well from the 1971 – 72 season:


1)     The Birds… And Um… The Bees *

2)     I Am Curious Cooper

3)     He’s No Heavy… He’s My Brother

4)     Room 223

5)     A Girl’s Best Mother Is Not Her Friend

6)     Cover Boy

7)     Didn’t You Used To Be… Wait… Don’t Tell Me

8)     Thoroughly Unmilitant Mary

9)     And Now, Sitting In For Ted Baxter

10)  Don’t Break The Chain

11)  The Six-And-A-Half-Year-Itch *

12)  Is A Friend In Need?

13)  The Square-Shaped Room

14)  Ted Over Heels

15)  The Five Minute Dress

16)  Feeb

17)  The Slaughter Affair *

18)  Baby-Sit-Com

19)  More Than Neighbors

20)  The Care & Feeding Of Parents

21)  Where There’s Smoke, There’s Rhoda

22)  You Certainly Are A Big Boy

23)  Some Of My Best Friends Are Rhoda

24)  His Two Right Arms



You may need to know more about the time they were made to get the jokes, but those titles are a hoot.  It is amazing how old, yet enduring these shows are.  Except for some styles and that it is a self-contained show in the way the comedy works, it remains one of the greatest, funniest, smartest, deepest, most intelligent situation comedies ever made.  It may not have been as bold as the Norman Lear shows (starting with All In The Family), but it was still ahead of its time and more groundbreaking than it gets credit for.


Besides the show being the next step for women on TV after the transitional, underrated That Girl, the various talented writers did so much with all the great characters and actors who played them so brilliantly.  This happened slowly, especially as the actors grew into their roles.  Considering the TV grind that destroys most shows, no comedy show in TV history was ever more successful in building up its multi-character storylines and we have yet to see it happen again.  Moore was perfect as Mary Richards, Valerie Harper made Rhoda immortal, as much as Cloris Leachman did with Phyllis Lindstrom.  Both later spin-offs made sense and were worth doing.


The late Ted Knight was a riot as Ted Baxter, almost doing a send-up of all the cartoon voices and voice-overs he had been doing since the 1960s.  Few knew that, but like Pat Harrington who played Schneider later on One Day At A Time, the cartoon voice makes for a great character actor/character match.  Another reason to bring this up is the way actors talked to, not at, each other as their characters.  If there has been one horrible thing about sitcoms since the 1980s is that people talk at each other and say nothing funny or important.  That is the least known of the many reasons The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a classic, because it was realistic without being compromised with obscenities and bad pop culture references throughout.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was shot on film and is a big surprise, as though the episodes look improved on cable and the like, they are amazing on these DVDs.  Despite some detail limits, the video black, depth in many shots and range of solid color is stunning.  This was always a distinctive-looking show, but it really shines in these copies.  Cinematographer Pat Uhl created one of the all-time great classic TV show looks and deserves more credit for it.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is fuller and richer than expected, music, dialogue and all.  Pat Williams did the memorable music and Sonny Curtis’ vocal on Love Is All Around remains definitive.  Classic TV on DVD should always look and sound this good.


Extras include commentaries on the three episodes above denoted with an * and features Treva Silverman, Jay Sandrich, and Ed Asner on the first two commentaries, and Gavin MacLeod and Peter Baldwin on the third.  The flip side of DVD 3 has every panel of a great MAD Magazine parody of the show, a new multi-part documentary that covers all the characters called Eight Characters In Search Of A Sitcom, a Karaoke of both versions of the theme song, a very amusingly set up trivia game, stills gallery, Newsbeat segment where the commentators are searching for Mary Richards with mixed results, two wins for the show at the 1971-72 Emmy Awards, and Moore On Sunday.  That segment is about shooting new images for the opening of the show and is especially terrific.  There is also a supposed Easter Egg here somewhere, but we’ll let you find it.  Even if you skip that, The Mary Tyler Moore Show - The Complete Second Season is a model for how classic TV should be presented on DVD and is a steal at its suggested retail price.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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