Release: July 26, 2005 (Fox Home Entertainment)
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.
*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
*In Search of Mary Richards
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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