Best Sitcoms- The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Ok, its theme song is (bar possibly the theme from The Twilight Zone) the most covered in television history. But, it was a great show, and the flagship series for the third great sitcom production company of the 1970s, along with Norman Lear and Garry Marshall.
MTM, like those other two powerhouses, had a stable of shows it produced- from this one to The Bob Newhart Show to Phyllis and Rhoda (spinoffs of this show- as well as the drama Lou Grant), and a myriad of other shows. All three companies took up the banner Desilu left.
First, there is Mary Tyler Moore- a great looking babe with a great acting ability and underrated comic ability. She is a reactor, in the mode of Buster Keaton or Bob Newhart, albeit in a subtler way. She first came to prominence in the 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, which is often cited as a great sitcom. It's certainly good, but Moore's own show surpassed its forebear in every way: better characters, better actors, more realism and dealing with adult issues, while still being able to have humor emerge in slapstick (see Ted Knight) or truly situational comedy, like the Chuckles the Clown funeral scene. After spending the whole show chiding others over Chuckles' death in a peanut suit, squeezed by an elephant, it's Mary who loses it at the funeral:
That episode is often considered the best sitcom episode ever. I would disagree, but it surely is great.
Here are some bloopers:
This was a show, despite not being in the Norman Lear stable, that first explored the life of a woman's libber; unmarried and not desperate. Yet, there was none of the 'topicality' that dates All In the Family. Yes, styles do, a bit, but like The Odd Couple, it is timeless.
The final episode of the series was one of the most watched in television history, but it was also one of the lesser episodes, and started a trend toward ending television shows with sappiness. After a group hug, the cast heads out:
Compare that to the perfectly in character ending for The Odd Couple, two years earlier, wherein Felix salutes Oscar, after remarrying Gloria, by dumping a trash can over the floor. Oscar says he'll clean it up as a tribute to Felix. When Felix leaves, Oscar walks away without cleaning up the garbage. Felix re-enters the apartment and puts the trash back in the can. Just perfect! Of course, the sappy ending this show started reached its nadir a few years later when M*A*S*H* ended its 11 year run, but that's for another post.
Nonetheless, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a classic I watched every week as a boy.