Monday, March 27, 2017

Favorite TV Show Episode Blogathon: The Mary Tyler Moore Show 3:23

Finding out that Mary Tyler Moore died, on January 27, exactly two months ago today, was a much more devastating experience than I had imagined it would be. For one thing, I hadn't known she was seriously ill. If Valerie Harper (Rhoda Morgenstern) had died, it wouldn't have been as bad of a shock, as she's been living on borrowed time for a few years now (please don't let her die this year too!). But Mary I was not expecting.

I was having lunch with a friend and her mom after a fun morning of visiting a petting zoo. While we were waiting for our food, my friend's mom, looking at her phone, suddenly said, "Oh, Mary Tyler Moore died." The conversation moved on, but I spent the rest of lunch just wanting to get home to see if the news was indeed true.

The first thing I did when I got home was check my Twitter. My feed was filled with others saying how much Mary would be missed. I quickly added my own before reading more and listening to  phone interviews with Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, and others talking about one of America's most beloved icons. There was also a clip circulating of MTM surprising Oprah on her show in 1997. I couldn't help it. I cried. I got teary-eyed when the theme song for the MTM Show, "Love is All Around," started to play. And when Oprah started to cry at meeting her role model, I cried too. Even writing this now, two months later, I have a little ache in my throat.

A couple years ago I wrote about an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show for this blogathon (I missed last years). The episode I chose, "It May Look Like a Walnut," contains that iconic shot of Mary sliding out of a closet on a wave of walnuts. I found it slightly ironic that for this years blogathon I had chosen yet another episode with MTM in it.

As a single girl nearing 30, the MTM Show is one of my favorite shows, one that instantly brightens my day from the opening notes of "Love is All Around" to the kitten's meow at the very end. I have several favorite episodes, but one that I especially love is "Put on a Happy Face" from the end of season 3.

Originally airing on February 24, 1973, this episode is not only one of the funniest episodes of MTM, but showcases Mary's ability to do physical comedy equal with that of Dick Van Dyke, who was one of her teachers of comedy when she played his wife on The Dick Van Dyke Show. It is impossible to watch this episode without laughing out loud. In this episode, the usually perfect Mary Richards (MTM) is having, in the words of Rhoda, "...a lousy streak. I happen to be having a terrific streak. Soon the world will be back to normal. Tomorrow you will meet a crown head of Europe and marry. I will have a fat attack, eat 300 peanut butter cups and die."

The day starts with Mary drinking from a cracked cup and getting coffee all down the front of her brand new sweater. Then she gets a phone call from her boyfriend Dan saying that he can't take her to the annual Teddy Awards, which she has been nominated for. On top of that, Mr. Grant (Ed Asner) informs her that she threw away the wrong file. Instead of throwing out the Obsolete file, she has thrown out the pre-written obituaries, which she must now re-write, on her own time, so that the WJM will be ready in the event that a famous person dies.

Start with 'A' and hope that they die alphabetically.
~ Mr. Grant

Back at her apartment, Mary talks it out with Rhoda. "Did you ever have one of those days?" "Yeah, mostly," Rhoda replies. "Well today I had three of those days." We learn that her alarm clock didn't ring and she had a flat on the way to work, making her late. Rhoda begins to tell her about the time she had TWO flats when Mary cuts in, "Do you mind? Would you just give somebody else a chance to be the MOST miserable! I mean, just once in a while!"

When she tells Rhoda that her date for the Teddy's canceled, Rhoda says my favorite quote:
Mary: What am I going to do?
Rhoda: Eat some candy!
Mary: Rhoda, chocolate solves nothing!
Rhoda: No, no. Cottage cheese solves nothing. Chocolate can do it all!
When Rhoda invites Mary to go to the movies, "Three Humphrey Bogart movies, in a row. All of them The Maltese Falcon," Mary declines, saying, "I think I'll just stay home and write some obituaries."

The next day starts out bad too; this time it's a hair bump. With his usual tact, Ted (Ted Knight) comes in and the first thing he says is "Hey Mary, your hair looks all bumpy." On her way to the bathroom to fix it, Mary slips on the newly waxed floor of the hallway. Ted, Mr. Grant, and Murray (Gavin MacLeod) rush out and Mr. Grant comes back in carrying Mary. What follows is one of the funniest moments in television history. Mr. Grant takes charge: "First we have to get you X-rayed. All we can do around here is get you Xeroxed." As they are heading out the door, Mary gets a phone call from Dan. As she's talking, Mr. Grant keeps tossing her up in the air to get a better grip. After she hangs up, Mr. Grant carries her out. Mary's foot hits the door when Ted doesn't open it fast enough.
Back at her apartment, Mary is soaking her sprained foot and making phone calls, trying to find a date for the Teddy's. She now has a cold, which she got due to soaking her foot. Desperate, Mary finally takes Ted's offer to get her a date. As it turns out, HE is the date.

Saturday night comes around and Mary gets her dress back from the cleaners - with a stain now on it. A BIG stain. She goes to Rhoda's to borrow something.

Oh, Rhoda. I'm going to be one of those people you always see with one slipper.

When Ted picks her up, he is less than thrilled with her appearance. She is wearing a hideous brown floral dress, one dress shoe, and a slipper. On top of that, her hair dryer broke so her hair is flat. It's also raining outside and Mary left her umbrella at the office, so she puts on a yellow raincoat.

Boy, if I had known THIS was going to happen I would
have taken my mother! She's got a dress just like that!

At the awards, Mr. Grant tries to boost Mary's mood. "Oh, that's a real nice dress!" he exclaims. "You look like one of the Andrew's sisters!" But then he asks, "What happened to your regular hair?" Mary replies, "This is my regular hair."

As they are calling out the awards, Murray suddenly asks, "Mary, what's that on your cheek?" One of her false eyelashes has fallen off. As she's trying to put it back on, her name is called. She won! She limps up to the podium, sneezes, and says, "I usually look so much better than this." You can view her "acceptance speech" below.

After that humiliating experience is over, and she is back at the table, Mr. Grant notices that they spelled "Mary" wrong! The episode ends with Ted, who was not even nominated, going up to the microphone and giving his prepared acceptance speech as his co-workers make a hasty exit.

You can currently watch the entire episode here.

This episode ended with Mary imitating Porky Pig, which she also did in the episode, instead of the usual kitten meow.

After Mary's death, TV stations were quick to put together tributes to this incredible woman and trailblazer. Unfortunately, they put them together a little too fast, with one being more a tribute to Oprah (and hosted by someone who I doubt had seen an episode of either the Dick Van Dyke Show or MTM before that day, and the other having hardly any interviews with her still living co-stars from both of those shows. It made me very sad at where the world is heading, a world where the current generation barely knows these icons who paved the way for things they take for granted today and who made better quality shows than anything that is on TV now.

Rest in Peace Mary. We miss you.

This post is part of the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts. Please check out all of the other favorite episodes and maybe discover a new show!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book of the Month: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

Written by one of televisions most beloved funny men, Dick Van Dyke's autobiography, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, covers everything from his early days on radio and television at its birth, his stint in WWII, the beloved TV show named after him, meeting silent film stars Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton, his Disney films, the rocky 60s, his personal struggles, and his later work, including his fairly recent role in Night at the Museum where he impressed the cast by doing most of his own stunts.

With a forward by Carl Reiner, the 280 page book is a quick and easy read (I will admit though, I skipped/skimmed the later chapters on his struggles and divorce as I never like to read that sort of thing) and contains stories that Dick Van Dyke fans won't want to miss. I especially enjoyed reading about The Dick Van Dyke Show.

For example:

Many of the episodes were based on actual things that had happened to different members of the cast. When Dick told about how his younger brother Jerry used to sleepwalk, it was written into a two-part episode with Jerry Van Dyke as the guest star.

Dicks wife Margie rarely came to the set because she said he acted pretty much the same as he did at home.

The cast knew from the beginning that creato Carl Reiner intended to stop after 5 seasons. The show was canceled after the first season due to a bad time slot (they were competing with the hugely popular Perry Como show) but after it found its audience in summer re-runs, it was picked back up.

Did you know there are words to the shows theme song? They were written by Morley Amsterdam, who played Buddy Sorrell on the show.

So you think that you got trouble
Well trouble's a bubble
So tell old Mister Trouble to get lost.

Why not hold your head up high, and
Stop cryin'
Start tryin'
And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed.

When you find the joy of liven'
Is lovin'
And given'
You'll be there when the winning dice are tossed.

A smile's just a frown
That's turned upside down
So smile, and that frown
Will defrost
And dont forget to keep your fingers crossed.

The Petrie's last name was supposed to be pronounce Pee-tree but Dick Van Dyke mispronounced it and no one corrected him.

The title of the show came about at the last minute. However, everyone was worried that no one would watch the show as Dick Van Dyke was a household name. Rose Marie, who played Sally Rogers, even quipped, "What is a Dick Van Dyke?" (In the walnut episode, guest star Danny Thomas says, "What is a Danny Thomas?").


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Faces of Classic TV

Alice Pierce - Bewitched

Barbara Billingsly - Leave it to Beave

Irene Ryan - The Beverly Hillbillies

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Three Stooges in Ancient Times

The Three Stooges began as a vaudeville act, "Ted Healy and his Stooges" in the mid-1920s. The "Stooges" were Moe and Shemp Howard and Larry Fine. The four made a feature film titled Soup to Nuts, after which Shemp left to start a solo film career. Younger brother Curly Howard took his place. Two years later, the trio left Healy and began to make short subject comedies or "shorts" for Columbia Pictures. Between the years of 1934 and 1946, they made over 90 short films. In 1946, Curly dropped out due to health reasons and Shemp took the role as the third Stooge once again until his death in 1955. Curly died in 1952.

The Three Stooges were usually set in "modern" times - the Depression, WWII - but they also covered everything from Cave Men to Cowboys, often utilizing sets from historical films being made at Columbia at the time. The two shorts below are set in "Ancient" Times. I hope you enjoy them!

Matri-Phony (1942) - Ancient Rome

Mummy's Dummies (1948) - Ancient Egypt

All in all, the Stooges (including later replacement Joe Besser and Joe DeRita) made a total of 190 shorts, all which have been released recently on dvd. Since hitting the airwaves in 1958, The Three Stooges has been a staple on television, even to this day.

I will leave you with this excerpt from the Ted Okuda and Edward Watz book The Columbia Comedy Shorts:
Many scholarly studies of motion picture comedy have overlooked the Three Stooges entirely – and not without valid reasoning. Aesthetically, the Stooges violated every rule that constitutes "good" comedic style. Their characters lacked the emotional depth of Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon; they were never as witty or subtle as Buster Keaton. They were not disciplined enough to sustain lengthy comic sequences; far too often, they were willing to suspend what little narrative structure their pictures possessed in order to insert a number of gratuitous jokes. Nearly every premise they have employed (spoofs of westerns, horror films, costume melodramas) has been done to better effect by other comedians. And yet, in spite of the overwhelming artistic odds against them, they were responsible for some of the finest comedies ever made. Their humor was the most undistilled form of low comedy; they were not great innovators, but as quick laugh practitioners, they place second to none. If public taste is any criterion, the Stooges have been the reigning kings of comedy for over fifty years.
This post is part of The Sword & Sandal Blogathon hosted by Moon in Gemini. The subject may be ancient, but the posts aren't!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Olivia de Havilland's TV Appearances

Olivia de Havilland was, and is, a big movie star. Not only has she reached the monumental landmark of turning 100 today, but she is a living icon.

Some movie stars had second careers in television, some had movie careers that had died and were just appearing in television as an alternative. And some were barely in it.

Olivia appeared in four television episodes, two TV mini-series, and five TV movies. Unfortunately I did not have as much success finding the episodes to watch that I did with my post on Bette Davis.

Here is a list of Olivia's television appearances:

1965: The Big Valley "Winner Lose All"
1966: ABC Stage 67 "Noon Wine"
1968: The Danny Thomas Hour "The Last Hunters"
1981: The Love Boat "The Duel/Two for Julie/Aunt Hilly"

ABC Stage 67 "Noon Wine"

1979: Roots, the Next Generations - ep. 1.1 & 1.2
1986: North and South, Book II - ep. 1.3 & 1.4 (other four ep. credits only)

1972: The Screaming Woman
1982: Murder is Easy
1982: The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana (she plays the Queen Mother) - looks painful to watch considering we know the outcome, but Olivia's part looks good!
1986: Anastasia, the Mystery of Anna (the Dowager Empress Maria) - features a young Christian Bale!
1988: The Woman He Loved

Olivia also appeared several times on What's My Line.

This post is part of The Olivia de Havilland Centenary Blogathon. Click below to view all of the posts from the event.

Sunday, June 26, 2016