I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Season Four: 1973-74
1973-74: THE FOURTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 23.1 (9th place)
The fourth season sees the characters and situations developed to
a level of depth and sophistication that few thought possible on a network
sitcom. Lou Grant's separation and eventual divorce were a recurring
plot springboard that demonstrated the show's remarkable ability to
deal with sobering issues of real life in a funny, but not frivolous,
Other developments during this peak middle period of the show's development
include the addition of Sue Ann Nivens to the regular cast. Betty White's
verbally assaultive and sexually voracious character would provide a
potent source of fresh plot ideas throughout the remaining three years
of the series.
Ed. Weinberger continues to serve as producer, while Jay Sandrich
once again directs most of the episodes; and Treva Silverman is executive
story consultant in the fourth year.
Phyllis discovers that her husband, Lars, is having an affair with
WJM's Happy Homemaker, Sue Ann Nivens.
This episode marks the introduction of Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens,
host of The Happy Homemaker Show. Legend has it that the show's
creators wanted to add a bitchy, bright, and sexually omnivorous female
character to the series and thought that it would be a funny twist to
cast against type and use a clean-living, all-American "Betty White
type" in the role. On a lark, they sent her the script, she loved the
idea, and no male in the WJM newsroom has been safe since.
Cloris Leachman, whose star had risen meteorically since the series
began, was busy pursuing other avenues of her career, and so was seen
less frequently on the show by this time. However, she did make occasional
guest appearances, such as her performance here--for which she was awarded
Mary's new boyfriend is in his twenties, which suddenly makes her feel
Mary and Rhoda fly to New York for the marriage of Rhoda's sister,
This prototype version of Rhoda's sister was not the same one used
in the spinoff series Rhoda. It must've been some honeymoon:
Poor Debbie vanished and was never heard from again.
Lou and his wife, Edie, separate after raising a family, leaving Lou
A compassionate development in the life of one of the show's most
interesting, and real, characters. The relationship of Mary and Lou
continues to develop in subtle and complex ways that mirror the way
two real people might grow close--by building a fond attachment, without
ever really identifying their shared emotion as love. The script would
win a well-deserved Emmy, surely a sign that the television industry
was keenly aware of the show's ever-blossoming level of sophistication.
Mary wants more responsibility, so Lou awards her the task of firing
the WJM sportscaster.
Ted is nervous at the prospect of a reunion with his long-lost father.
When Mary's old comedy-writer boyfriend joins the newsroom staff, he
concentrates more on Mary than his work.
Lou, now a bachelor, asks Mary to drum him up a date for an awards
Rhoda falls head over heels for the manager of the department store
where she works.
Mary is surprised when a congresswoman accepts her rhetorical invitation
to a dinner party.
Henry Winkler plays one of the dinner guests in a role that predates
his imminent fame as a star of Happy Days.
When Lou becomes Mary's perennial dinner guest, she decides to reunite
him with Edie.
Directed by Nancy Walker, the actress we usually thought of as Rhoda's
Phyllis convinces Ted to forgo his news career and run for city council.
This is the first Mary Tyler Moore episode written by David
Lloyd, who had once written jokes for both Jack Paar and Merv Griffin.
Lloyd's daughter, a fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, suggested
that he submit a script--which he did, without ever watching the show!
Working from character descriptions his daughter gave him, Lloyd constructed
a sample script that was good enough to land him a regular spot on the
writers' roster. A gifted comedy writer, Lloyd would contribute many
of the show's most memorable later episodes.
Mary hires Murray's daughter, Bonnie, to work in the newsroom.
Georgette is prepared to join a convent after she spies Ted with another
woman in his dressing room.
Mary plans an unwanted surprise party for Lou's birthday.
The decision to separate Lou from his wife has become a bonanza for
new plots involving Lou and Mary. Actor Ed Asner rises to the challenge
by developing the irascible old news hawk into a compelling portrait
of a man facing middle age, suddenly alone.
Mary begins to have doubts about the integrity of her own show after
she dates the anchorman at a competing station.
Phyllis tries to convince Lou to let her sell his house, despite his
sentimental attachment to it.
Mary and Rhoda become producers of a show that features the unlikely
team of Ted and Sue Ann.
Mary and Rhoda have a blowup that threatens to devastate their friendship.
Mary writes a joke obituary that Ted reads on the air, forcing Lou
to punish her with a suspension.
Ted develops delusions of network stardom when Walter Cronkite drops
by the newsroom.
Lou dates Rhoda, causing all sorts of speculation in the newsroom.
Valerie Harper left the cast after this episode to star in Rhoda,
which would begin the following fall.
Ted horns in on a creative-writing course that Mary's attending and
then has the nerve to paraphrase and plagiarize her touching personal
Writer David Lloyd seemed to possess an understanding of Ted Baxter's
character that few of the show's other writers could touch. The episodes
that he wrote with Ted as a central character are among the funniest
ever aired, as this particular show aptly demonstrates. Ted's boyish
malevolence is exploited in a chilling fashion in the scene where Ted
claims Mary's assignment as his own and then reinterprets it aloud in
class, leaving her to stammer out a new composition on the spot. A comic
masterpiece that presents actor Ted Knight at his finest.
Mary goes on location for an in-depth report on the singles scene.
The scene where Mary and Lou must improvise an entire half-hour show
on location from the suddenly deserted single's bar is another hilarious
example of a staple MTM situation--as a well-intentioned Lou and Mary
find themselves struggling to endure a magnificently embarrassing predicament
while trying not to reveal the slightest discomfort.
Penny Marshall, who plays one of the singles, would soon achieve lasting
notoriety as one half of Laverne and Shirley.