Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Valerie Harper. Mary doesn't miss a beat a she enters the fifth hit season of her beloved series. Centering around the fictitious WJM-TV, the fun and frolicking continue in the newsroom and in all the personal lives of the staff. Includes 24 episodes on 3 DVDs. 1974-75/color/9 hrs., 41 min/NR/fullscreen.
There is comfort television, and there is consummate television. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
is the gold standard, and without any Very Special Episodes (but plenty of very special moments), stunt casting, or a season-ending cliffhanger, this multi-Emmy-winning fifth season is a master class of ensemble acting and character-based comedy. So indelible are these characters by now that half the fun is anticipating how they will react in comedically ripe situations. How will Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), who cries that she never even had to stay after school, adapt to jail after refusing to reveal a source in the Emmy-winning episode "Mary Goes to Prison"? How will old school newsman Lou Grant (Ed Asner, earning his third Emmy) handle Ted (Ted Knight) after Ted endorses a candidate during his broadcast in "You Sometimes Hurt the One You Hate"? And how will skinflint Ted react when he learns that Lou has recklessly gambled away their football pool winnings in "The System"?
Valerie Harper is missed as Rhoda, but the show wisely did not try to replace her with another sidekick for Mary. Instead, episodes this season further flesh out these beloved characters. Sue Ellen (Betty White, who was honored with her first Emmy) reveals her vulnerability in "What Are Friends For?" Lou falls for a lounge singer with an active past (guest star Sheree North) in "Lou and That Woman." But Ted, happily, is still clueless, thoughtless, and egotistical, whether spreading gossip that he and Mary are having an affair ("An Affair to Forget"") or proposing to Georgette (Georgia Engel) on the air ("Marriage Minneapolis Style"). Mary Richards is an iconic character, the poster woman for what Cloris Leachman's Phyllis calls "the era of the single girl" in her Emmy-winning turn in "Phyllis Whips Inflation." A character and show of this stature certainly deserve better than this set's bare-bones release. Three years elapsed between the releases of season 4 and season 5. Talk about cliffhangers; "Chuckles Bites the Dust" awaits in season 6. --Donald Liebenson