Thursday, December 29, 2011

Love Is All Around ...

They just don't make 'em like Mary Tyler Moore anymore.

And, yes, I actually do mean that in two ways.

In no particular order:
  • They certainly don't make sitcoms like the ones that featured Mary Tyler Moore in the 1960s and 1970s.

    She first came to people's attention as Laura Petrie, the wife of Dick Van Dyke in the show that bore his name. Only 23 when she was cast in the role, she won two Emmys for her work and confided that she was convinced "this will never happen again."

    But it did — three more times as the star of her own series, the iconic Mary Tyler Moore Show in which she played a single career girl, the associate producer of a Minneapolis TV station's evening news.

  • And they don't make people like Mary Tyler Moore anymore. Anyone who remembers watching her in the 1970s will tell you that.

    The Mary Tyler Moore Show was really an ensemble production with some truly talented people in the original cast — Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight. Others were added to it later on — Betty White and Georgia Engel.

    But it seemed to reflect Moore's personality. She never produced a local news show, but the series really seemed to be her story. Some series are like that. The actor or actress is so perfect for the role that the audience can't tell where reality and fantasy part ways.

    Maybe it was different for people who were old enough to remember when Laura Petrie was on primetime, but I never felt that her story was Moore's. I had no trouble at all with Mary Richards, though.
Moore, who celebrated her 75th birthday today, was nominated for an Academy Award after she and the cast of her TV series voluntarily ended it while it was still riding high in the ratings in 1977. She has appeared in numerous movies since the show went off the air, and she has even made some appearances on TV.

But nothing she has done since — and nothing she is likely to do in the future — really compares to her work on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She really made it seem effortless, as if the series really did tell her story. As if Mary Richards' strengths and weaknesses were Moore's as well.

The audience was never certain if that was true, but there was one thing that was undeniable. Mary Richards had spunk.

And television in the 1970s was better because of it.