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!


  1. Thank you so much for taking part in the blogathon! This is one of my favourite Mary Tyler Moore Show episodes, precisely because all of us have had one of those days or even weeks where everything just seems to go wrong. And Mary Tyler Moore, whether playing Laura or Mary, was so good at playing exasperated (for lack of a better term). I think what makes The Mary Tyler Moore Show so good is that, unlike some sitcoms from the era, it never forgot to be funny.

    1. And thank you for hosting this fun Blogathon every year!

      I like that, "never forgot to be funny," Because you just have to laugh at life sometimes :)

  2. What a wonderful article. I laughed so hard reliving memories of the show, especially the hair bump part. I'm going to look up this episode and watch it again.

    1. Thanks! We've all been there with the hair bump lol.

  3. I used to watch this show along with Bob Newhart every week when I was a kid, (which gives away how old I am, but I wasn't hiding it...) I never quite understood all the jokes, but when you're a kid any TV is good TV. Nice review.

    1. It's always fun to rewatch something as an adult and see just how much of it went over your head ;)