Thirty No More: Mary Richards Turns The Big Five-Oh!

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977, CBS), which debuted on CBS at 9:30 PM on Saturday, September 19th, 1970. As regular readers of this blog know, I hold Moore’s series — the inaugural effort from the influential MTM enterprise — in the highest regard, primarily for its successful, consistent use of well-defined characters to propel funny, but logical, weekly stories.

In fact, it’s the high-water mark for the character-driven style of situation comedy that I champion, and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart for this reason. So, for subscribers — who comment below to alert me of their interest — I’ve got a rare treat: access to Jim Brooks and Allan Burns’ initial 21-page treatment. Dated January 1970, this outline for the first episode of a new vehicle for The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Mary Tyler Moore is, as you’ll notice, already pretty close to what we’d see in its premiere, with only a few tweaks (like name changes for some of the regular characters). Here’s a sample of the document — the thesis.

And, while I already covered my picks for the series’ finest episodes in 2014, I want to give readers who are maybe still unfamiliar with this classic a starting reference point. Here are the three offerings I consider the best of the best of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

  • Episode 71: “Put On A Happy Face” (Aired: 02/24/73) — Mary gets to clown!
  • Episode 73: “The Lars Affair” (Aired: 09/15/73) — the debut of Betty White
  • Episode 127: “Chuckles Bites The Dust” (Aired: 10/25/75) — hilarious, classic



Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned for a new Musical Theatre Monday!