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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Season Seven: 1976-77



SEASON ONE: 1970-71
SEASON TWO: 1971-72
SEASON THREE: 1972-73
SEASON FOUR: 1973-74
SEASON FIVE: 1974-75
SEASON SIX: 1975-76
SEASON SEVEN: 1976-77
CREDITS
EMMY AWARDS

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"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on Video or DVD

1976-77: THE SEVENTH SEASON

Year-End Rating: 19.2 (39th place)

Acknowledging the pressures involved in maintaining the high standards of a series like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the series's creators decide to bow out gracefully when they announce that the show's seventh season will be its last, ending the long run of one of the most popular and critically acclaimed series in television history.

Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels return as producers for the final season. Bob Ellison will serve as executive story editor, while David Lloyd returns in the role of creative consultant.


145 Mary Midwife    First Aired: September 25, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Ford Rainey

Georgette unexpectedly has her baby in Mary's apartment.


146 Mary the Writer    First Aired: October 2, 1976
Writer: Burt Prelutsky
Director: James Burrows

Mary fulfills her desire to become a creative writer, despite Lou's harsh criticism of her abilities.


147 Sue Ann's Sister    First Aired: October 9, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Pat Priest

Sue Ann's sister is hired as the hostess of a rival station's homemaker show.


148 What's Wrong With Swimming?    First Aired: October 16, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Marjorie Mullen
Guest Star: Caren Kaye

Mary hires an Olympic swimmer as WJM's new sportscaster--against Lou's better judgment.


149 Ted's Change of Heart    First Aired: October 23, 1976
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Harvey Vernon, Jerry Fogel

After a brush with death, Ted decides to explore the joys of life--and he convinces the rest of the newsroom to join him.


150 One Producer Too Many    First Aired: October 30, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Richard Self, Murray Korda

Lou appoints Murray co-producer of The Six O'Clock News, which causes an unhealthy rivalry between Murray and Mary.


151 My Son, the Genius    First Aired: November 6, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Robbie Rist, William Bogart, Ned Glass

Ted and Georgette discover that their adopted son has the IQ of a genius.


152 Mary Gets a Lawyer    First Aired: November 13, 1976
Writer: Burt Prelutsky
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: John McMartin

Mary finally faces a judge for her contempt charges, but her defense lawyer seems more intent on winning her than defeating the case.


153 Lou Proposes    First Aired: November 20, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Eileen Heckart, T.J. Castronova

Lou finally musters the courage to propose to Mary's Aunt Flo.


154 Murray Can't Lose    First Aired: November 27, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Joyce Bulifant, Larry Wilde

Murray is convinced that he'll never be awarded a Teddy statuette until Lou builds his confidence with the implication that he's a shoo-in.


155 Mary's Insomnia    First Aired: December 4, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: James Burrows
Guest Star: Sherry Hursey

Mary develops a dependence on sleeping pills, and Lou tries to force her off the habit.

An extraordinary look at an obsessive side of Mary's character that we never knew existed--and a revealing portrait of the true interdependency of Lou and Mary. This is a rare example of a sitcom episode that approaches successful human drama, largely due to the depth and believability the characters have developed during the later seasons.


156 Ted's Temptation    First Aired: December 11, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Harry Mastrogeorge
Guest Star: Trisha Noble

While in Hollywood for a newsmen's convention, Ted is almost seduced by a beautiful young reporter who's hoping for an in-depth interview.


157 Look at Us, We're Walking    First Aired: December 25, 1976
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: David Ogden Stiers

Lou and Mary decide to quit their jobs in order to bluff the new station manager into meeting their salary demands.

David Ogden Stiers played station manager Mel Price in only a few seventh-season episodes, but they would lead to the actor's far more lasting assignment as Major Charles Winchester of the 4077th after M*A*S*H producer Burt Metcalfe spotted him on the show.


158 The Critic    First Aired: January 8, 1977
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Martin Cohan
Guest Stars: Eric Braedon, David Ogden Stiers

WJM's new station manager hires a controversial critic for The Six O'Clock News as a ploy to boost the show's sagging ratings.


159 Lou's Army Reunion    First Aired: January 15, 1977
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Alex Rocco

An old Army buddy of Lou's comes to town and decides to collect a favor--he wants a date with Mary.


160 The Ted and Georgette Show    First Aired: January 22, 1977
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: David Ogden Stiers, Alex Henteloff

Ted and Georgette host a successful variety show on WJM, until Georgette discovers that she can't stand the pressure.


161 Sue Ann Gets the Ax    First Aired: January 29, 1977
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Louis Guss

When Sue Ann's cooking show is canceled, she takes over as host of the afternoon kid's show.


162 Hail the Conquering Gordy    First Aired: February 5, 1977
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: John Amos

Weatherman Gordy--now a well-known talk-show host--returns to WJM, only to face Ted, who volunteers his services as talk-show second banana.


163 Mary and the Sexagenarian    First Aired: February 12, 1977
Writers: Les Charles, Glen Charles
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Lew Ayres, Jon Lormer

Mary goes out on a date with Murray's father, despite the ribbing she receives from the newsroom staff.

An early script from Glen Charles and Les Charles, two brothers who would one day create the popular and critically acclaimed NBC sitcom Cheers.


164 Murray Ghosts for Ted    First Aired: February 19, 1977
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Jay Sandrich

Ted plans to take full credit--and make a large cash profit--when an article Murray has ghosted for him is picked up by a major magazine.


165 Mary's Three Husbands    First Aired: February 26, 1977
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Bill Darth

In dream sequences, we see what life would have been like had Mary become the wife of Lou, Ted, or Murray.


166 Mary's Big Party    First Aired: March 5, 1977
Writer: Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Johnny Carson, Irene Tedrow

To ensure that at least one of her parties will be a success, Mary invites Johnny Carson as guest of honor.

There are two sure signs that a sitcom is headed for the end of a long run on network TV. The first is when there's an entire episode devoted to flashbacks from earlier episodes, and the second is when a single show revolves around the surprise appearance of a special guest star. It's a credit to the ambition of the creative staff of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that they dared to dust off both those old sitcom chestnuts in a single audacious episode.


167 Lou Dates Mary    First Aired: March 12, 1977
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: ]an Sandrich
Guest Stars: John Reilly, Kenny Waller

Lou and Mary finally have their first, and only, date.

Around the time this episode first aired, Ed Asner half-jokingly described the way that he thought this episode should end. Lou and Mary would be alone at the crest of the evening--in the dark, ensconced in a newly discovered bliss. As the credits begin to roll, there would be a long silence. Finally, the silence would be punctuated by Mary's familiar exclamation, "Oh, Mr. Grant!" Fade out . . . cut to commercial.

As tempting as that scenario must've seemed to Asner, it's not surprising that the show's creators opted for a more realistic ending to the big date, with Mary and Lou barely exchanging a goodnight kiss. The show's writers must've known all along that Lou and Mary were able to enjoy the most passionate love affair in TV history largely because it was unconsummated. Not sullied by carnal pleasure, they were free to exchange the passion of two thinking, feeling adults traveling together through seven years of highs and lows--through giddy pleasures and painful truths, through old divorces and new beginnings. Lou and Mary shared a respect for each other that was not unlike the respect that existed between the show's audience and its many creators--which gives some clue to the immense popularity of the series during its seven-year run.

Just as Mary grew to depend on Lou in her strange, ineffable way, so did we grow to expect the very best from this most unusual TV series. And right up to the very end, neither we, nor Mary, were ever disappointed.


168 The Last Show    First Aired: March 19, 1977
Writers: Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Ed. Weinberger, Stan Daniels, David Lloyd, Bob Ellison
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Robbie Rist, Vincent Gardenia, Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper

WJM's new station owner decides to revamp The Six O'Clock News, so he fires everyone--except Ted Baxter.

It's a lucky thing that the show's creators decided to stage a final episode to end the series. The audience needed a proper occasion to say farewell to all those Saturday nights spent at home, often intentionally, with Mary Tyler Moore and the crew. The overall mood of this episode was that of a big, teary-eyed, good-bye kiss, and there was a built-in poignancy to this last hurrah that would be rarely equaled in series television.

Many viewers may still find it hard to stifle that lump in their throat when this episode is rerun on local TV at two or three in the morning. Although now that the show's in syndication, it must be a sobering consolation to know that Mary Richards will be back in Minneapolis the very next day, still tossing that silly hat in the air and finding out that Lou Grant thinks she's got spunk--and he hates spunk.

Fade out . . . cut to commercial.

 

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