Friday, August 12, 2011

Mary Tyler Moore in The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979)

Obscurity factor: 10

This hour long variety series was a hybrid of variety show and sitcom, with Mary playing Mary McKinnon. McKinnon was the host of her own show at CBS and episodes revolved around her production staff and her home life. Each episode featured a star who was to be a guest on the show within a show and a situation to be dealt with, such as in the episode below, the southern California fires threatening Mary's home. Look for turns by Dodie Goodman, Joyce Van Patten and Michael Keaton, and this episode's special guest, Dick Van Dyke.

This series, nor the one preceding it (Mary! 1978/79) have made it to DVD, but you can find clips on YouTube. Above is part one of the episode featuring Dick Van Dyke.

Obscurity factor: 10 (barely remembered, not on DVD, available in part on YouTube)


  1. At first I thought you were talking about the variety series that must have been called "Mary!" (which I think David Letterman was on); I didn't know there was a second show after that one. Without having watched the clip, this sounds like an expanded version of the original Dick Van Dyke show.

    Very few people have two classic shows in their portfolios, so MTM is a winner as far as I'm concerned ... even if her other TV shows were flops.

  2. This is Mary! retooled. The variety show was a flop, so CBS reimagined it as a hybrid.

  3. I don't remember this, although I do remember "Mary!," which I liked. I remember one sketch from "Mary!" in which the entire cast was dressed like mice and avoiding a cat. At least I think that was what it was! It was a long time ago when I saw it. The premise of "The Mary Tyler Moore Hour" sounds similar to the premise of "The Betty White Show" that you wrote about a few days ago.

    VanceMan is right. Very few people have two classic TV shows in their portfolios. It is too bad that Mary's other attempts were not successful, but she has a better track record than most. I don't know if you are going to post "Annie McGuire." I found that one very strange. It was hard to tell if they were going for comedy or drama with that one. I really didn't like it.

  4. Well, if you count Dick Van Dyke, then MTM has two classics in her portfolio. This show came along at the end of an era for variety shows, which is a shame. I love the format and wish they still existed. Network executives seem to think that competition performance shows fit the bill, but for me, they fall short for the very reason they exist - competition. I want to see cooperation, not competition.

  5. Oh, yes, I faithfully watched both "Mary!", and this revamp - both quite disappointing. How interesting that they used the old "MTM" theme song...I do not recall if "Mary!" did the same. I remember this episode, and the fact that I did NOT care for "The DVD Show" "revisit". I also watched "Annie McGuire" - MTM attempting what "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" had started. How humorous, that critics referred to "Molly Dodd", as the "80s MTM". Unfortunately, MTM would use that same dramedy format for the "Mary and Rhoda" reunion pilot/TV movie in 2000. "Annie McGuire" did co-star Eileen Heckart, the wonderful "Aunt Flo" from "MTM".

    Speaking of Heckart, does anyone remember the short-lived "5 Mrs. Buchanans" from '94? I think that it deserved more than one season...

  6. Heckart is wonderful in the campy, original "The Bad Seed," and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination. Surprising, though, that Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack were also nominated for the same film. Ben, I'm betting that you've covered either the 1956 original, or the 85 TV remake, with "Molly Dodd"'s own Blair Brown.

  7. No, neither... I did cover the Redgrave sister's remake of Baby Jane though.