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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Season Six: 1975-76

SEASON ONE: 1970-71
SEASON TWO: 1971-72
SEASON FOUR: 1973-74
SEASON FIVE: 1974-75
SEASON SIX: 1975-76

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"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on Video or DVD


Year-End Rating: 21.9 (19th place)

With both Phyllis and Rhoda gone from the series, the dual focus on Mary's home and worklife environments is diminished. With fewer characters to serve, the writers are free to increase the interaction among the surviving members of Mary's TV family, a shift that will yield substantial comic dividends in the show's final seasons.

On the creative end, Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels return as sixth-year producers. And Bob Ellison signs on as executive story editor, replacing David Lloyd, who will assume the position of creative consultant for the final two seasons of the series.

121 Edie Gets Married    First Aired: September 13, 1975
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Priscilla Morrill, Nora Heflin

Lou can't bring himself to attend the ceremony when Edie gets remarried.

122 Mary Moves Out    First Aired: September 20, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: John Lehne

Convinced that she's in a rut, Mary moves into a new apartment.

The scene where Mary demonstrates her tedium by accurately predicting every word the newsroom staff will utter is even more compelling when one realizes that the creators of the show must've found themselves in a very similar rut. How could they keep the series fresh when they were going into a sixth season with characters and situations that by now must've seemed completely familiar to every man, woman, and child in the country?

One way they faced the challenge was to move Mary out of her old apartment. Since it was clear that Rhoda and Phyllis would not be replaced, it made sense to finally close the book on that part of her life.

There is a touching moment in this episode when Mary seems to acknowledge the evolution her character has undergone. She is trying to hang the big letter M that she brought over from the old apartment, but she can't get it to hang the same way in the newer, more sterile high-rise. She finally puts down her hammer and nails and whirls around in frustration. Suddenly, she realizes how much she misses her old life, her old friends, and her old apartment--and how much she hates the new place.

Finally, she walks from the room, struck by the irony of her new independence. Mary Richards no longer wonders how she will make it on her own--she already has. Now she's left to ponder if the struggle was worth it.

123 Mary's Father    First Aired: September 27, 1975
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Ed Flanders

Mary fears that a dynamic Catholic priest may leave the church because he's fallen in love with her.

An episode that explores a rarely exposed area of Mary's character. When the priest reveals that his infatuation with Mary existed largely in her mind, her ego takes a slight trouncing. "I'm not unattractive," she exclaims, affording us a rare glimpse at the insecurity and vanity that lurk deep in the heart of every former prom queen. The show's creators took a risk depicting Mary in this unfavorable light--but it was a gamble that paid off. By the end of this half hour, we better understood Mary, and we liked her all the more for revealing this very human side of her character.

The scene where Lou tries to warn the priest of the moral danger of his actions is a masterpiece of comic misunderstanding, offering Ed Asner one of his best monologues of the series. When he starts to launch into a story that begins when he was twelve years old, the impatient priest interrupts him: "Lou, give me a hint. How old are you at the end of the story?"

124 Murray in Love    First Aired: October 4, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Penny Marshall, Mary Kay Place, Peter Hobbs

Murray confides to Mary that he's fallen deeply in love with her.

A probing and surprisingly touching episode. When Mary reveals the nature of her love toward Murray--"I don't know what tomorrow morning may bring, but the last five years have been the most important of my life"--the actress and her character become one. The scene where Murray, the idealist, realizes that he must learn to accept himself--and not his dreams--is a powerful moment of recognition that suddenly makes worthy the five-year journey of this most sophisticated of "supporting" characters.

125 Ted's Moment of Glory    First Aired: October 11, 1975
Writers: Charles Lee, Gig Henry
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Richard Balin, Marilyn Roberts

Ted plans to move to New York to accept an offer to host a game show, until Lou and Mary convince him to stay at WJM.

A character exploration of Ted Baxter that doesn't quite add up. There is nothing in Ted's personality that allows him the integrity to forgo an extra $1000 a week in salary just to stay in Minneapolis. The scene where Mary and Lou decide they want to keep Ted at WJM seems a little forced as well. At least the writers were smart enough to keep Murray out of the picture when Mary and Lou decide to convince Ted not to take the other offer.

126 Mary's Aunt    First Aired: October 18, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Eileen Heckart

Mary's Aunt Flo--a world-class foreign correspondent--drops in for a visit and begins a friendly rivalry with Lou.

Mary's Aunt Flo, played by Oscar-winner Eileen Heckart, was the only character from The Mary Tyler Moore Show ever to make a crossover, however brief, to the more serious Lou Grant series of the late 1970s.

127 Chuckles Bites the Dust    First Aired: October 25, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Joan Darling
Guest Stars: John Harkins, Helen Kleeb

The death of Chuckles the Clown under the most ridiculous of circumstances prompts a nervous rash of gallows humor in the newsroom.

Director Joan Darling and writer David Lloyd both earned Emmy Awards for an outstanding episode that questions our culture's sanctimonious attitude toward death and dying with predictable irreverence. The plot bears echoes of a scene in an old Second City revue where a family is similarly convulsed by the absurd death of their father--which only shows how much The Mary Tyler Moore Show, like Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, drew from the same comic vein as the improvisational comedians of the 1960s.

128 Mary's Delinquent    First Aired: November 1, 1975
Writers: Mary Kay Place, Valerie Curtin
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Mackenzie Phillips, Tamu, Phillip R. Allen

Mary and Sue Ann become big sisters to two wayward girls.

Writer Valerie Curtin would be one of the creators of the short-lived but critically acclaimed series Square Pegs.

129 Ted's Wedding    First Aired: November 8, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: John Ritter

Ted and Georgette are wed in an impulsive ceremony improvised in Mary's apartment.

There was really no chance of a June marriage for Ted and Georgette--sitcom weddings are invariably held in mid-November to boost viewership while the networks compete in their ratings sweeps.

130 Lou Douses an Old Flame    First Aired: November 15, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Beverly Garland

Lou has a rare opportunity to even the score with the woman who jilted him during the war.

131 Mary Richards Falls in Love    First Aired: November 22, 1975
Writers: Ed. Weinberger, Stan Daniels
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Ted Bessell, Valerie Harper, David Groh, Beth Howland, Michael Perrotta

Mary thinks she may have finally found a man to settle down with but has second thoughts when he seems reluctant to make a commitment.

Mary could've saved about five years of looking for Mr. Right by watching reruns of That Girl. Long before he rode a white horse into Mary Richards' life as Joe Warner, Ted Bessell played the boyfriend on that late-sixties sitcom--a show that preceded The Mary Tyler Moore Show in theme, if not precisely in flavor. Bessell also shared billing with a chimpanzee in another sitcom--but that's a whole other story.

132 Ted's Tax Refund    First Aired: November 29, 1975
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Marjorie Mullen
Guest Star: Paul Lichtman

Ted is pleased when he gets an unusually large income tax refund, until he finds out he's scheduled to be audited by the IRS.

133 The Happy Homemaker Takes Lou Home     First Aired: December 6, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Wynn Irwin, Titos Vandis

Lou is tricked into spending the evening in Sue Ann's desperate clutches.

134 One Boyfriend Too Many    First Aired: December 13, 1975
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Michael Tolan, Ted Bessell

Mary is forced to choose between her current heartthrob and an old boyfriend who suddenly reenters her life.

135 What Do You Want to Do When You Produce?     First Aired: December 20, 1975
Writers: Shelley Nelbert, Craig Allen Hafner
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Joyce Bulifant

Murray's life is transformed into a nightmare when he volunteers to become producer of domineering Sue Ann's Happy Homemaker Show.

136 Not With My Wife, I Don't    First Aired: January 3, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Allan Manson

Georgette decides to seek professional marital counseling when she begins to feel that Ted no longer loves her.

137 The Seminar    First Aired: January 10, 1976
Writers: James MacDonald, Robert Gerlach
Director: Stuart Margolin
Guest Stars: Betty Ford, Dabney Coleman

Mary refuses to believe that Lou is on a first-name basis with Capitol Hill luminaries until he's paid a surprise visit by First Lady Betty Ford.

138 Once I Had a Secret Love    First Aired: January 17, 1976
Writers: Pat Nardo, Gloria Banta
Director: Jay Sandrich

Lou's faith in Mary is tested when he confides that he once spent the night with Sue Ann.

139 Ménage à Lou    First Aired: January 24, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Janis Paige, Penny Marshall, Jeff Conaway

Lou is distraught when one of his old girlfriends arrives at Mary's party with her new beau.

140 Murray Takes a Stand    First Aired: January 31, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Joyce Bulifant

Murray dares to speak out against the mercurial new station owner, but he soon finds himself out of a job.

141 Mary's Aunt Returns    First Aired: February 7, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Eileen Heckart

Lou once again locks horns with Mary's Aunt Flo when the pair squabble over the journalistic integrity of a documentary they're co-producing.

142 A Reliable Source    First Aired: February 21, 1976
Writer: Richard M. Powell
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Edward Winter

A conflict of ideals erupts when Lou decides to do an exposé on a politician who is also a good friend of Mary's.

143 Sue Ann Falls in Love    First Aired: February 28, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Doug Rogers
Guest Stars: James Luisi, Pat Gaynor, Larry Wilde

Sue Ann falls in love and is finally nominated for a Teddy Award--both in the same week.

144 Ted and the Kid    First Aired: March 6, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Marjorie Mullen
Guest Star: Robbie Rist

After Ted finds out that he's unable to father a child, he and Georgette adopt a precocious young boy.

This episode demonstrates one of the more difficult attempts to expand and deepen a regular character on the series--the childlike anchorman Ted Baxter. When the role was created six years earlier, he was designed to offer the sort of broad comic relief that was a necessary and successful component of the show. A combination of good writing, as well as a perfect marriage of actor and role, soon made Ted one of the most popular characters on the show. But when the time came to humanize and expand his role, the show's creative staff ran into trouble. How could they humanize a character whose comic purpose was based on his lack of any believable human integrity? Essentially, they solved the problem by creating a new, more sympathetic character who still possessed the unsympathetic characteristics that made Ted so funny. It was an uneasy combination at best, and, as this episode indicates, a not entirely successful compromise.


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