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The Mary Tyler Moore Show - The Complete Fourth Season


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


Info:

Release: June 20, 2006 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color/1973-1974
MSRP: $29.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 613 Minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: N/A
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: None


Introduction:

Who can turn the world on with her smile? Mary Tyler Moore, of course! And the fourth season of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" is now on DVD, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment!

Mary Richards (Moore) was the first truly independent woman that American audiences ever saw on television. After a failed engagement (not a divorce, apparently Americans would have thought that she divorced Rob Petrie if the show started with a divorce!), Mary is living in an apartment in Minneapolis, the same building where her friends Rhoda (Valerie Harper, before she became the villain that some have seen her as since the 80s) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman), and working for the local news station, WJM, with Murray (Gavin MacLeod) and the ever-so-incompetent Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). And of course, who can forget her boss, Lou Grant (Ed Asner)?


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The fourth season begins with Betty White's first appearance as Sue Ann Nivens, the Happy Homemaker who might not be making Phyllis a happy homemaker when she is having an affair with Phyllis' husband, Lars, in "The Lars Affair." An interesting side note (I can't take credit for this, somebody brought this up on Home Theater Forum), Lars'last name is Lindstrom, and Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls" (played by Betty White, of course) was Rose Lindstrom before she was married--which makes this a rather interesting (though certainly unintentional) coincidence. Rhoda is going to New York (and taking Mary with her) for her sister's wedding (but not Brenda, Julie Kavner isn't in this episode!) in "Rhoda's Sister Gets Married." Brett Somers plays Rhoda's aunt. The relationship may be over for Mr. Grant and his wife, Edie, in "The Lou and Edie Story." Jerry Van Dyke ("Coach") is Mary's former boyfriend--and new coworker--in "Son of 'But Seriously, Folks.'" Mary has to find a date for Mr. Grant for a banquet in "Lou's First Date," and she does just that--but the date she gets for him is old enough to be his mother--or maybe even his grandmother!

Mr. Grant is having dinner at Mary's house--every night--so she is determined to try to get him and Edie back together in "Just Friends." Lou hates birthday parties, but Mary doesn't know that, so she throws him a big surprise celebration in "Happy Birthday, Lou!" Mary has a new boyfriend, a news anchor from the top-rated station in Minneapolis--and quickly begins to have doubts about WJM in "WJM Tries Harder."

In "Cottage for Sale," Phyllis wants Lou as her first client after she gets her real estate license, but does he want to let go of the memories? Mary decides to have fun by writing a funny obituary for the file in "Better Late... That's a Pun… Than Never," but when the same person dies a day later and the obituary is read on the air, will she still be having fun? Ted Baxter meets his idol, Walter Cronkite (playing himself) in "Ted Baxter Meets Walter Cronkite," but Ted has the misguided Walter Cronkite wants him to be America's next news star! I wonder if Ted Baxter would be idolizing Katie Couric if the show took place in 2006? Probably not. Ted and Mary are going to night-school in "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Writer," and only one of them is going to legitimately do their assignment! Penny Marshall ("Laverne & Shirley") guest stars in "I Was Single for WJM."


Packaging:

The packaging is basic but functional. The set comes in slim cases, which is always my favorite kind of packaging. The front of the outer box is very simple, with Mary standing in front of a big M. And on the back, there is a picture of the entire WJM crew sitting on the couch (why isn't Rhoda anywhere on the packaging??). And generally speaking, we have a dark blue color scheme going on.

The slim cases are nothing to get excited about. In fact, the front of each slim case has the same artwork as the front of the set. The back of each slim case has a listing of the episodes on the disc that is in the case, along with a brief description, original airdate, and writer/director credits (other companies should take note of this, Fox does great with this). There are three discs, and are all single-sided (somewhat surprising for Fox, because they always put "King of the Hill" on three double-sided discs and each season has fewer episodes), with exactly 8 episodes per disc. The disc artwork is basically not much; just part of an M is on the disc art in a different color for each disc (blue for Disc 1, purple for Disc 2, and green for Disc 3).


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are plain, but functional. The main menu on each disc has a picture of Mary (well actually just her head, her body is actually drawn on!) in the newsroom (I know it is the newsroom, because there are drawn on clocks in the background). For some reason, the top of the main menu says "Mary Tyler Moore: Season 4 in Broadcast Order," I don't know why they saw a need to include the fact that the episodes are in broadcast order on the menu screen, but it doesn't hurt the set I guess. The main menu allows you to select the episodes right there, or you can go to Play All at the bottom of the main menu. When you select an episode, you get another (again, drawn, not a photo) picture of the newsroom, with a picture frame on the desk with a picture from the show (these are real pictures here, finally something not drawn!), with options of Play Episode, Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Home.

If you like chapters, you are going to love this set--there are 10 chapters per episode, one after each. That means there is one roughly every 2 minutes! Of course, at every place where there is a chapter, you can also start an episode there from the Scene Selection menu for the episode. I've always felt like scene selection is not really a necessary option for a sitcom (I know I never watch 3 minutes of a show, then do something else, come back a week later, and go to the scene selection so I can watch another 3 minutes), but it is nice to include it.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality on this set is very good... if you (like me) watched the show when it was airing on Nick at Nite, you'll remember a great show that had an audio and video quality that was, to put it gently, horrible. But somewhere along the way, in the past few years, they have done some work on these episodes and that almost look, and I hesitate to say this, perfect. There is still some grain in the picture, but it isn't nearly as bad as the old syndicated versions that were floating around in the 80s and 90s. They probably could have done a little more with the audio, but it is still fine, and is presented in Dolby Digital Mono (what else would you expect?). And there are English subtitles, Spanish subtitles, and closed-captioning for those that need or want it.

The way I see it, the episodes on the set are MOSTLY unedited, with all running their expected length. HOWEVER, it is necessary to mention that on the Home Theater Forum website, members of the message boards have reported that there are a few rather minor edits. First, the "Angels in the Snow" episode has a song replaced in it. Second, in the episode "The Co-Producers," there is a 10 second line of dialog missing. Personally, I don't see these edits as being a serious problem, but if you are an absolute perfectionist, it may bother you. The running times (and disc breakdown) are as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "The Lars Affair" (25:34)
2. "Angels in the Snow" (25:33)
3. "Rhoda's Sister Gets Married" (25:34)
4. "The Lou and Edie Story" (24:36)
5. "Hi There, Sports Fans" (25:35)
6. "Father's Day" (25:37)
7. "Son of 'But Seriously, Folks'" (25:36)
8. "Lou's First Date" (25:34)

Disc 2:
9. "Love Blooms at Hemple's" (25:33)
10. "The Dinner Party" (25:30)
11. "Just Friends" (25:35)
12. "We Want Baxter" (25:32)
13. "I Gave at the Office" (25:32)
14. "Almost a Nun's Story" (25:34)
15. "Happy Birthday, Lou!" (25:37)
16. "WJM Tries Harder" (25:35)

Disc 3:
17. "Cottage For Sale" (25:36)
18. "The Co-Producers" (25:25)
19. "Best of Enemies" (25:36)
20. "Better Late... That's a Pun... Than Never" (25:34)
21. "Ted Baxter Meets Walter Cronkite" (25:39)
22. "Lou's Second Date" (25:37)
23. "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Writer" (25:36)
24. "I Was Single for WJM" (25:36)


Special Features:

Season 1 was loaded with special features. Season 2 was loaded with special features. And for season 4, we have... nothing! There has to be SOMETHING they can include. Commentaries? Special footage? Trivia? Please, Fox, put something on here!


Final Comments:

This show is one of the TRUE classics of television, in fact, I think it is a whole lot better than some of the other supposedly big shows (yes, "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Cosby Show" are good shows, but not as good as this one, and this show isn't overplayed--or even played at all). The lyrics to the theme song say it all: "you're gonna make it after all." This was one of the shows that most fans had officially come to the conclusion that it had been abandoned for DVD after season 1 (due to slow sales), but then mysteriously came back with a season 2 release and has been doing surprisingly well since it returned. There is real hope that the entire series will be released. However, I want to see "Rhoda" (and maybe even the other spin-offs, like "Lou Grant" or "Phyllis") on DVD as well! There is no denying that of the Mary Tyler Moore "spin-off dynasty" that this is the only truly classic show there, but the other shows shouldn't be overlooked.

You can buy this season (and if you are like me and still haven't bought the first three, those too) dirt cheap on Amazon.com, sometimes as low as $15 (and I don't even mean on Marketplace, I mean actually THROUGH Amazon). Since this is such a great show, the episodes look great (despite minor edits), and the show is so cheap, there really isn't any reason to not include this show in your DVD collection.


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

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 06/24/06

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000EXDS02/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=175898


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