Like the series' heroine, Mary Richards, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a lot more confident and secure with itself as the program enters its second season. After a full year in Minneapolis, our Mary is handling her duties as associate producer of WJM-TV's nightly news broadcast with admirable efficiency. She has also formed enduring friendships with co-workers, grumbly producer Lou Grant (Edward Asner), affable news writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and dunderheaded anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). Off the job, Mary enjoys the companionship of next-door neighbor Rhoda Morganstern (Valerie Harper), though she's not crazy about mediating the arguments between Rhoda and supercilious landlady Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman). This season's best episodes include the classic opener, "The Birds...and...um...Bees," in which Mary is recruited to explain the facts of life to Phyllis' spoiled daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen); "Room 223," wherein Mary takes a night-school course in journalism and begins a romance with the lecturer (Michael Tolan); "A Girl's Best Mother Is Not Her Friends," marking a return visit by Nancy Walker as Rhoda's impossible mother, Ida; "Cover Boy," guest-starring Jack Cassidy as Ted Baxter's equally vapid brother, Hal (reportedly, this episode upset Ted Knight, who was worried that Cassidy was being brought in to replace him); "Ted Over Heels," in which Ted falls in love with the daughter (Arlene Golonka) of WJM's resident kiddie entertainer, Chuckles the Clown; "Feeb," illustrating the dangers of feeling sorry for someone, as Mary arranges to have a klutzy ex-waitress (Barbara Sharma) take a job at the TV station; "The Slaughter Affair," spotlighting Joyce Bulifant as Murray's wife, Marie, who is convinced that her husband is fooling around; "Where There's Smoke, There's Rhoda," in which Mary and Rhoda discover to their chagrin that best friends do not always make best roommates; and the season finale, "His Two Right Arms," originally designed as the pilot for a spin-off series starring Bill Daily as a stupid politician. (The pilot didn't sell, but Daily was hired on the strength of his performance as a regular on MTM Productions' The Bob Newhart Show.) Season two of The Mary Tyler Moore Show found the series ranking at number ten in the ratings. As icing on the cake, Edward Asner and Valerie Harper both took home their second Emmy awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Outstanding Supporting Actress, respectively.
by Hal Erickson synopsis