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Mary aired from December 1985 until April 1986 on CBS.
More than eight years after the tearful parting of the news staff of WJM-TV in the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Miss Moore returned to the world of tv sitcoms, again in a news setting.This time she was working for a somewhat sleazy tabloid newspaper, The Chicago Eagle. Her character, Mary Brenner, was a divorcee in her 40's who had taken the job at the Eagle when the high-fashion magazine for which she worked went out of business. Her ' Hepline' column served as a consumer advocate assisting readers in resolving problems with business and government, often by using the power of the press to cut through red tape. Mary's boss, managing editor Frank DeMarco ( James Farentino), emphasized the more exploitive and sensational aspects of the Eagle, since that was what sold papers. He was also quite a ladies' man who had an undeniable appeal to Mary, though she was not sure how to deal with that.
Others on the Eagles staff included Jo Tucker ( played by Katey Sagel who the following season would begin her long run as Peg Bundy on the FOX sitcom Married With Children), the cynical chain-smoking columnist who sat across from Mary at the office; Ed LaSalle ( John Astin), the rather pompous theater critic; and Tully ( David Byrd), the almost-blind copy-editor whose job ( and he never let you forget it) was protected by the union. On the home front Mary's friend and neighbor was Susan ( Carlene Watkins), whose new fiance Lester ( James Tolkin), seemed to have underworld connections.
Mary had it's problems. The newspaper was supposed to be called the Post, but a lawsuit by the real Chicago Post-a small circulation weekly-forced the last minute change to The Eagle. Despite some positive reviews from columnists, the series did poorly and both it's format and timeslot were tinkered with. Mary's home life was minimized, and Susan and Lester were dropped from the cast. The changes didn't help, and Mary failed to survive its first season.
A Review from The New York Times
A NEW MARY TYLER MOORE
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: December 11, 1985
NOT just a grand old name, Mary - spelled out, that's Mary Tyler Moore - is a national treasure. She has succeeded in the movies (''Ordinary People'') and on stage (''Whose Life Is It Anyway?''), but she has positively triumphed on television. ''The Mary Tyler Moore Show'' was, and on reruns still is, the kind of situation comedy that critics invariably point to when they pontificate about the medium's potential. A terrific cast, bright scripts, sparkling direction -the series had it all, usurping most of the light-comedy territory that for years had been the province of Broadway.
But what was Miss Moore, still relatively young and very eligible, to do for an encore? Trying to shake the old M.T.M. image, she stumbled awkwardly on a variety-comedy series. In a sense, she is shackled by the M.T.M. character. People love the old Mary too much to let go completely. Could Miss Moore find a new series that might incorporate some of the old while offering her a challenge with something new and different? Amazingly enough, CBS seems to have found just the formula in a new weekly show called - what else? -''Mary.'' The premiere is today at 8 P.M.
This Mary, Mary Brenner, lives in Chicago and is divorced. Finding herself unemployed when a chic fashion magazine goes out of business, she ends up taking a job with The Chicago Post, a seedy newspaper dedicated to the tired proposition that sensationalism sells. The new managing editor is Frank De Marco (James Farentino), a macho chauvinist type who decides to give Peck & Peck Mary a job only after, in a fury about his manners, she pulls his phone out of its socket.
Others at the office include tough Jo Tucker (Katey Sagal), who informs Mary that she is not about to stop smoking, ''not if it would end world hunger.'' Jo likes to live life on the edge. ''Did you ever try cyclamates?'' asks Mary. The theater critic is Ed LaSalle (John Astin), a rumpled, leering wonder with an ego the size of Ted Baxter. Ed prefers experimental theater with ''emotions stripped bare'' and wouldn't dream of going to see such ''commercial pap'' as ''Cats.'' And then there is Tully (David Byrd), the myopic, legally blind copy editor who, a union member in good standing, loves to tell puzzled visitors that ''they can't fire me, you know.''
At home, Mary's neighbor is Susan Wilcox (Carlene Watkins), who confesses that ''most of the time I feel so scattered and confused, and that's not good for a city planner.'' Susan, obviously, will bear some resemblance to former M.T.M. neighbors played by Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman. And there is, admittedly, a good deal of M.T.M. in this new Mary Brenner. But, like Miss Moore, the character has grown up into the 1980's. She is more independent, not quite so eager to be adorable, less squeaky-clean-girlish - but equally attractive and charming.
The new format was created by Ken Levine and Dave Isaacs, the executive producers. They also wrote the first episode, which has been directed with breezy assurance by Danny DeVito. Premieres can be deceptive, and it will take at least a half-dozen episodes to see if ''Mary'' can fulfill its promise. But the series is coming out of MTM Enterprises, the top-flight studio that owes its name to Miss Moore, and the outlook is certainly encouraging for the establishing of still another top-notch sitcom.
A Review From USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/BY MONICA COLLINS
Published: December 11, 1985
Aw. Shucks, Mare. Throw that pompon hat of yours all the way up to TV heaven. You've made it after all.
You're now a woman of the '80's-tough, wounded, flawed, independent. Yet you're still the soul of generosity, the best friend of our dreams in the best new CBS show in an age.
The character Mary Tyler Moore plays in her new half-hour comedy is not dramatically different from Mary Richards, the single Everywoman she immortalized on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Except for a little more makeup around the edges , she looks the same , although the clothes are flashier, more daring. The hairstyle is the familiar crisp pageboy. And that voice, that high-pitched voice. You'd know it anywhere.
But Mary has changed. As we all have.
In the '70's , she was struggling with a shrug and a smile. In the '80's she's still stuggling , but the shrug has disappeared. And the smile is less ready. She's hardened but not bitter, experienced but not jaded, determined but yielding.
As a divorced Chicago writer who must work at a seedy tabloid after a glossy magazine goes belly up this new Mary ( and the last name is Brenner) is less grateful for her job. There's no " oh goshing," no " golly gee whizzing," her new boss, an endearing snake of an editor. He's played by James Farentino and the chemistry between the two is much more crackly and adult than that gentile sparkle between Mary Richards and Lou Grant.
Mary's newsroom is filled with a wonderful compliment of oddballs. The legally blind copy editor who's protected by the union, the pompous theater critic and the hard-bitten chain-smoking columnist who shares a desk with Mary.
On the homefront-a scrupulously neat apartment where only Mary could live-there is a next door neighbor, the program's only weak link. Mary's new best friend Susan ( played by Carlene Watkins)is a selfish neurotic. This certified weirdo makes you mourn for selfless , puddle Rhoda. Our heroine deserves better.
And she remains our heroine. Although she still appears as the essence of white bread, Mary Tyler Moore is a wonder. Her TV presence puts you at ease and her vulnerability reaches out to soothe.
She's a reminder of the past, a vestige of lonely Saturday nights with only Mary and company.Yet, she's also a vivid symbol of the present, of continuity and endurance. We've all made it after all.
Will CBS smile at ratings?
Mary is a winner. But will it be a hit?
CBS hopes for a smash-desperately-but it's far from a sure shot.
Wednesday night currently is a ratings disaster for CBS. That's why the network has called Mary to the rescue.
But it hasn't given Mary an ideal time slot. Kids tend to hog the tube at 8 p.m. while Mary will appeal to more sophisticated viewers, the baby boomers who remember the old Mary.
CBS is banking its ratings hopes on two factors: viewers are looking for a little sophistication and women need an alternative.
" It's no secret that we're having problems on Wednesday," says Harvey Shephard, CBS chief programmer."( NBC's) Highway to Heaven is a strong show but it has an older, more rural bias. And the Insiders ( ABC) is a marginal show.
" There seemed to be a strong opportunity for an urban, sophisticated show that had strong appeal to women and was also a comedy."
To watch clips of Mary go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mary+tv+show+1985
For more on Mary go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_(1985_TV_series)
For some Mary-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/mary-1985
To watch the opening credits for Mary go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYo-H6JHr40
· Date: Wed March 22, 2017 · Filesize: 63.2kb, 135.8kb · Dimensions: 812 x 1000 ·
Keywords: The Cast of Mary (Links Updated 7/19/18)