Synopsis by Hal Erickson
One of the best network sitcoms to emerge from the 1970s (and it was a crowded field indeed during that remarkable decade!), The Mary Tyler Moore Show starred the titular actress as Mary Richards, a single, slightly insecure woman in her early thirties who worked as associate producer for the evening news broadcast at independent Minneapolis station WJM-TV. Mary's boss was irascible-but-lovable producer Lou Grant (Edward Asner); head writer for the newscast was upbeat if somewhat sarcastic Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod); and the WJM anchorman was Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), blessed with dazzling looks, a mellifluous voice, an enormous ego, and a pea-sized intellect. In the early seasons, future Good Times star John Amos was seen as WJM weatherman Gordy Howard; and beginning in the series' fourth season, Betty White was added to the cast as Sue Ann Nivens, hostess of the station's "Happy Homemaker" show, whose sugary-sweet demeanor masked a powerful sex drive. When not at the studio, Mary Richards could be found in her small apartment, palling around with her brash, New York-bred neighbor Rhoda Morganstern (Valerie Harper), who worked as a department-store window dresser; and with her landlady, supercilious busybody Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), who prattled endlessly about her never-seen husband, Lars, and who carried on a battle of wits with the acidulous Rhoda. Seen on a less frequent basis were Phyllis' spoiled daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen); Murray's perky wife, Marie (Joyce Bulifant); and beginning in the third season, Ted Baxter's soft-spoken but iron-willed girlfriend, Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), who eventually married Ted and bore him a daughter. As The Mary Tyler Moore Show rolled on, both Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman departed for their own spin-off series, respectively Rhoda and Phyllis. Also, Lou Grant and his wife, Edie (Priscilla Morrill), were divorced, Ted and Georgette adopted an eight-year-old boy named David (Robbie Rist), and Mary moved out of her old apartment and into a high rise -- though she took her trademarked "Big M" wall decoration with her. In the series' now-legendary final episode, the new station manager of WJM-TV decided to fire everyone on the staff -- except, incredibly, for the dimwitted Ted Baxter! Originally telecast by CBS from September 19, 1970, through September 3, 1977, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was not only the recipient of numerous industry awards, but it also served as the cornerstone for the thriving MTM Productions TV-series factory, which turned out such worthwhile efforts as Lou Grant, a straight dramatic series starring Ed Asner in a continuation of his Mary Tyler Moore role.
High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance