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The Mary Tyler Moore Show - The Complete Second Season


TITLE: THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON


Info:

Release: July 26, 2005 (Fox Home Entertainment)
Color/1971-1972
MSRP: $29.98
Number of Discs: 3 (2 Single-Sided, 1 Dual-Sided)
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 613 Minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: 2 Hours 54 Minutes (approx)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Spanish Language & Subtitles; Closed Captioned.
Special Features:
*Audio Commentary on 3 Episodes, “The Birds…and…um…Bees”, “The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch”, and “The Slaughter Affair”
*8 Characters in Search of a Sitcom documentary
*Moore on Sunday documentary from 1973
*Emmy Awards clips
*All-Star Trivia Challenge
*Mad Magazine Parody from 1972
*Theme Song Karaoke
*Photo Gallery
*In Search of Mary Richards


Introduction:

Welcome back for a second season of love and laughter! The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s second season is now on DVD! Mary and the gang from WJM-TV return in another award-winning season. No longer the new girl in town, Mary has come to think of the newsroom staff as her family (that must be some family reunion, eh?). Along with the good times and close friendships come the often trying ­ and ultimately hilarious ­ situations every family faces. From Mary explaining the facts of life to Phyllis’ daughter, to going on a blind date (set up by Lou of all people!), to attending her disastrous high school reunion, it’s clear why this TV classic is one of the most beloved comedies of all time.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show -­ and with how often the show’s been reran over the years, that hopefully isn’t very many, the show stars Mary Tyler Moore (wow, The Mary Tyler Moore Show stars Mary Tyler Moore ­ who would have guessed??) as Mary Richards, an associate producer at WJM-TV in Minneapolis. A lot of the show centers on the absolute nuthouse that IS the WJM newsroom. Mary’s boss, Lou Grant (played by the one and only Edward Asner), is a rather grumpy guy ­ but occasionally does soften a bit. Also at WJM is Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), the self-absorbed and…well…dumb senior news anchor at WJM. Also in the newsroom are Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), a WJM news writer, as well as Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), the…uh…nuts former host of The Happy Homemaker Show and current WJM staffer. Away from the newsroom you’ll find Mary’s best friend Rhoda (Valerie Harper), as well as Phyllis (Cloris Leachman). I really don’t know how to describe Rhoda - if you’ve never seen the show; Rhoda is a character that you’ve just got to see to believe. Phyllis is a mother living upstairs, who, aside from not liking Rhoda that well, also tends to pops in rather frequently.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

A couple of notable guest stars, both in the same episode. Isabel Sanford, who had already begun her occasional role on All in the Family as Louise Jefferson (who would later get spun off from THAT into The Jeffersons). In the season finale, “His Two Right Arms,” Isabel plays Mrs. Wilson, the mother of one of the campaign workers of city councilman Pete Peterson ­ who happens to be played by Bill Daily, who you probably remember best as Major Healy from I Dream of Jeannie. Isabel’s part is rather small, and there isn’t really that much to talk about. Bill’s part, however, is the center of the episode. His character, Pete, wants to appear on WJM’s current events show. The problem there is…well….Pete Peterson’s not that bright (Ted Baxter remarks in the episode that “He’s my kind of man.”) That should say it all. The episode is, at least from where I sit, one of the better ones of the season ­ however, you’re probably not going to go wrong ­ the show really hit its stride by season two and was producing a high level of quality comedy in each episode, regardless of the plot. Another episode I happened to like was the eighth episode of the season, Thoroughly Unmilitant Mary, in which there’s a news writer’s strike, leaving Mary to have to do Murray’s copywriting job, while Lou, of all people, has to anchor.


Packaging:

The packaging, like many other FOX TV DVD releases, is a group of slim cases. On the front cover of each slim case is the same art as the cover, a picture of Mary, Rhoda, and Lou standing in front of a giant partial M and the show title. The reverse of the outer slim case holder contains Mary with the WJM gang as well as the show information and a small picture of Mary throwing her hat in the air. The back cover of each of the three slim cases is merely a listing of the episodes on that disc. Episode info in the listings contains episode title, original airdate, writer and director credits, and show synopsis. Disc art is amazingly simple ­ Disc one is plain orange, with a mostly-translucent large M across the disc. Disc two is the same, except pink. The third disc has no disc art, as it’s dual-sided. Shows 1-8 are on the first disc, 9-16 are on the second disc, and the final eight shows are on disc three, side A. Side B of disc three contains the entire mass of special features available on the set (with the exception of commentary tracks). I’m happy that FOX put all the special features on a completely separate piece of real-estate, though I wish production costs would have allowed for a fourth disc. Still, keeping the special features separate allows a nice 8-8-8 spread across the discs. Not cramming ten episodes onto one disc, like with other releases, permits less video compression, which makes the video look better. Nice work.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus look fairly nice, though I wish that FOX would get someone in to animate them ­ or at least get a copy of the theme to play in the background. The menus are a static shot of Mary in Minneapolis on the left, with the episode titles on the right, the show title on top, and Special Features (Read: Commentary) on the bottom of the episode selection menu. From there though, the sub-menus get surprisingly complex. Each episode has its own sub-menu, with a still from that episode on the right, with Play Episode,*CHAPTER SELECTION*, and Language Selection options, plus the obligatory Home button, plus a Commentary option where available. Play Episode...plays the episode (big surprise). Language selection offers you the chance to toggle between the various Audio and Subtitle options available in the set (see below). Chapter selection menus allow you to jump to any scene in any episode on-command. Each scene has a picture representing it, with the scene title below it. Choosing that scene takes you directly to it. Something strange is that the sets actually go out of their way to tell you the episodes are in broadcast order ­ something rarely seen (most sets don’t mention arrangement order one way or the other, so for it to be in all three main menus is odd, though useful).


Video and Audio Quality:

The video on the episodes looks nice. There IS some occasional noticeable grain, but on a show that’s almost 25 years old, that’s to be expected. The video looks sharp without looking TOO sharp, while the colors are bright and vivid. FOX only put 8 episodes on each disc, so there’s really no noticeable compression artifact. The audio’s a basic mono -­ the standard for 1970s sitcoms. The set’s not audibly impressive, but I really don’t think anyone expected much there. I am impressed that they included a secondary Spanish audio track on all episodes -­ it’s always nice to see studios catering to as many languages as possible with releases. There are also subtitles in both English and Spanish. As the show is from an era before increased commercials, you’re going to see episode runtimes consistently in the 25:00 to 26:00 range, with most evening out at around 25:30. There’s an obscene number of chapter stops -­ around NINE TO TEN per episode. Fans of chapter stops will be happy, there’s one at EVERY scene change -­ which is about once per 2:30. Plus, as I alluded to earlier, there’s a chapter selection menu, so you can skip straight to a certain chapter after choosing an episode. The opening credits AND closing credits are each placed on their own chapter, so those of you not interested in seeing Mary toss the hat 24 times can go straight to the meat of the episode, and can skip the closing credits if you like.


Special Features:

“8 Characters in Search of a Sitcom” is a featurette that is divided into 9 separate chapters, one about each character, plus a 9th about the cast, together. The total thing runs a massive 57:45. Each chapter runs approximately the Following Length:
1) Mary Tyler Moore As Mary Richards: 6:35
2) Edward Asner as Lou Grant: 6:35
3) Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern: 6:30
4) Ted Knight as Ted Baxter: 7:25
5) Cloris Leachman as Phyllis Lindstrom: 5:32
6) Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter 5:35
7) Georgia Engle as Georgette Baxter 5:27
8) Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens 5:30
9) All Together Now: Behind the Scenes at the Mary Tyler Moore Show 8:19

“Moore on Sunday” is a documentary, from the show's 4th season. The video hasn't been touched, so it appears faded and overly bright in places - still, it's great to see. Something not often included on full episodes of TV programs - episodes or bonus show-related things, is left in. The studio slate - the thing that airs before episode start - usually involving a clap-board, is still present on the copy of the feature on the show. This feature's placement on the set is strange, in that it deals entirely with the location shooting for the new season FOUR opening credits - whereas this is the season TWO release. Still, it's a welcome feature. Runtime is 20:58.

Next up is clips of Ed Asner and Valerie Harper's Emmy wins for Mary Tyler Moore from 1972. Ed's clip runs 3:08, The other 2:20. Interestingly, Valerie actually tied in the Best Supporting Actress award with Sally Struthers for All in the Family, so you get TWO acceptance speeches here, one not even related to MTM. Both clips are in rather bad shape - the video has faded quite a bit, and looks much older than its age.

The next feature is the MTM theme karaoke track - they include the season 1 version of the theme as well as the 2-7 version of the theme. The lyrics to the song appear at the bottom of the screen, while the opening title for whichever season you pick plays. Essentially, it's nothing more than irremovable subtitles. Season 1 runs 0:55, Season 2 runs 0:56.

Next is an "In Search of Mary Richards" "News Beat" segment. The point of this docucomedy was a "news investigation" into trying to find Mary Richards within real life Minneapolis. Its ok, not really my cup of tea, but most people will probably enjoy it. It runs 11:25.

The Photo Gallery is a browse-at-your-own-pace look at various scripts, locations, and people of the Mary Tyler Moore show. Each page is a still image - a photo of a MTM location, a cast photo, or a picture of an episode's script (The script pages are all in order at the front of the gallery). At the bottom is listed the contributor of each particular item, be it Ed Asner, Variety, TV Guide, or whoever.

Next is another non-timed feature, a reproduction of a MTM parody from Mad Magazine #175 from December 1972, "The Mary Tailor-Made Show”. It’s pretty funny.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show trivia challenge is rather fun - it starts with a 25 second introduction by Cloris Leachman playing the piano, then goes into the quiz. Various cast/crew ask a question related to the show, and then you choose one of four choices. If you pick a wrong answer, a clip from the show plays that implies that you messed up, while if you're right, they play the clip that provides the correct answer. At the end, depending on how many you got right, Cloris returns with various clips that are different depending on your success level. Cool feature.

Finally, there’s the commentary. Each disc has commentary on one show. Disc one’s track is on “The Birds...and…um…Bees.” The track features commentary by Ed Asner, plus episode writer Treva Silverman and director Jay Sandrich. Disc two’s commentary is on “The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch.” Same commentators as the first episode are featured. Disc three’s chosen one is “The Slaughter Affair,” which has commentary by Gavin MacLeod and episode director Peter Baldwin. Each episode runs ~25:30, for approx 76:30 total commentary, bringing the timed special features to a grand total of 2:53:57 of special features.


Final Comments:

As the show’s fallen out of favor in reruns in the last year or two ­ although after many years of constant airplays, it’s probably good to give it a bit of a rest ­ it’s nice to see the shows again. It’s also nice to see the shows in their full, 25 minute glory. It’s amazing to see sitcoms fill 25 minutes with nonstop comedy in 1971, yet they often seem to have trouble coming up with 21 minutes partially filled in 2005 ­ it shows you just how good an older show like Mary Tyler Moore really is.

The set looks great. The video, though still grainy, is nice for a 1971/72 show. The audio’s unremarkable, but you can’t win them all. I’ve also got to commend FOX for placing so many chapter stops. At best, most sets get stops at fade-to-black. This set gets a stop at the end of EVERY scene, black-fade or not. The variety of special features is nice to behold, though I was amazed that there was so little season 2-specific stuff. The Moore on Sunday documentary was produced for the FOURTH season, while the biggest bulk of the rest aren’t specific to any season of the show ­ seems a bit odd. I’m also surprised FOX didn’t produce a blooper reel for the show ­ shows like this should have hours of vault goof-ups waiting to be aired.

For the third season set that I hope we DO see one day ­ the one thing I’d try to work on is the audio ­ perhaps re-master it to get two distinct audio channels, rather than the same thing across essentially both. Also, some more special features, with the same depth level as this set’s, would go a long way towards sales of the set Overall, it’s a well-done set of a nice show, and I urge everyone interested in a comedy of any kind to pick it up. If you’re really watching your pennies, you might want to go ahead and rent it to be safe, but if you’ve got the $20-$30 to buy it, get the set. You will NOT be disappointed.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 06/24/2005

To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00096S480/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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