The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a groundbreaking sitcom that is considered one of the best of all time. These are the best episodes according to IMDb!
Many television shows seem to withstand the test of time. They’re beloved decades after they first aired, and they’re still relatable to today’s audiences. One of these revolutionary, timeless shows is The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Starring Mary Tyler Moore in her second act since appearing as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered 50 years ago on September 19, 1970. It was an inspirational, life-changing, and humorous sitcom that empowered women of all ages to enter male-dominant professions and to embrace their single status. Like most TV shows, there are numerous iconic episodes that still stand out to fans. Take a look at 10 of the best episodes, ranked according to IMDb.
Better Late…That’s A Pun…Than Never – 8.9
Some of the best episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show take place at WJM-TV, the fictional news station where Mary Richards (Moore) works as an associate producer. The news station has an ensemble of unique characters, including Lou Grant (Ed Asner) as the tough producer, Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) as the comical head writer, and Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) as the dim-witted news anchor.
Tensions rise in the season four episode “Better Late…That’s a Pun…Than Never.” When Mary is working a late shift at the station, she and her best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper), write a fake obituary about someone in the WJM-TV file to relieve their boredom. When the person actually dies the next day, the obituary is accidentally read on the air. Lou is understandably furious with Mary and threatens to fire her. Mary is usually a well-mannered professional, but this was a big “uh oh!” moment for her.
A New Sue Ann – 9.0
Today’s fans might have forgotten that Betty White was a cast member of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Introduced in the show’s fourth season, White played Sue Ann Nivens, a superficial host of WJM-TV’s The Happy Homemaker. She often makes judgmental remarks about Mary. How could someone be judgmental about Mary?
In the season five episode “A New Sue Ann,” Sue Ann is pleased to know that she has a fan, Gloria (Linda Kelsey). When Gloria gets a job at the station, everything seems to be going well until Gloria tries to kick Sue Ann off her own show. The episode is relatively inspired by the 1950’s hit film, All About Eve.
Mary Midwife – 9.0
Ted Baxter finally marries his longtime girlfriend, Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), during the show’s sixth season. Fans probably thought Ted would never settle down, but Georgette is special. She’s sweet and somewhat ditzy, which makes her a great match for Ted.
In the season seven premiere “Mary Midwife,” Georgette is pregnant while Mary is hosting a party inside her apartment. During the party, Georgette goes into labor and they’re too far from the hospital or Georgette’s doctor. So, Mary and Lou must deliver the baby, appropriately named Mary Lou. The episode is a monumental premiere, and Sue Ann even says that the birth is the most exciting thing to ever happen in Mary’s apartment. That’s nice, isn’t it?
Ted Baxter’s Famous Broadcasters’ School – 9.1
Everyone knows Ted Baxter isn’t the best news anchor. He mispronounces basic words and he doesn’t seem to know what he’s reading. So, it surprises everyone in the season five episode “Ted Baxter’s Famous Broadcasters’ School” when a man asks Ted to lend his name for a new broadcasters’ school in Minneapolis.
Well, the man turns out to be a con artist. Ted ends up paying all the bills while the man skips town, leaving Ted high and dry. Even though everyone at WJM-TV usually mocks Ted, they lend a helping hand to find a way out of the mess. Ted might be a nuisance at times, but no one wants to see him genuinely upset.
Will Mary Richards Go To Jail? – 9.1
Mary finds herself in trouble in the season five premiere, “Will Mary Richards Go to Jail?” When Lou is sick, Mary takes over as producer of the news station. A man divulges inside information (with proven documents) about a half a million dollars worth of graft. The only stipulation he has is that Mary should never reveal his identity.
Mary decides to air the story, and everyone is basking in the limelight until Special Agent Harris with the Justice Department shows up at the news station. When Mary refuses to name the source, she’s sent to court. The judge threatens to give her jail time, but Mary doesn’t want to abuse her first amendment right as a newsperson. The episode was revolutionary in 1974—discussing the ethics of journalism.
The Lars Affair – 9.1
Everyone has their own opinion about Phyllis Lindstrom. Played by Cloris Leachman, Phyllis is often snobbish, controlling, and egotistical. Valerie Harper commented, “Mary is who you wish you were. Rhoda is probably who you are, and Phyllis is who you’re afraid you’ll become.”
But no matter how you feel about Phyllis, everyone feels bad for her in the season four premiere, “The Lars Affair.” Phyllis struggles with the idea that her husband, Lars, might be having an affair with Sue Ann. She refuses to believe it, which makes the situation more difficult to watch. To save her marriage, Phyllis decides to become a real happy homemaker, like Sue Ann portrays on television.
The Dinner Party – 9.1
In one of the more famous episodes, “The Dinner Party” proves that The Mary Tyler Moore Show had one of the best casts in television history. Mary never hosts successful dinner parties, so she’s determined to change this when she hosts a party for Congresswoman Margaret Geddes. She only has six chairs for her dining room table and only six portions of veal Prince Orloff.
However, disaster ensues when unexpected guests arrive, including guest star Henry Winkler. In addition, Mary has trouble with the food timing, as well as portion control and sizes. This episode has been ranked as one of the best TV sitcom episodes of all time.
Put On A Happy Face – 9.1
The season three episode “Put on a Happy Face” showcases Moore’s impeccable comedic timing. Mary is nominated for the prestigious Teddy Awards, but she is in no shape to attend the awards program. She has a cold, sprained foot, hair bump, and a stained dress. It doesn’t help that Rhoda seems to finally have some good luck in her life, unlike Mary.
Even though she’s not in the mood for the awards show, Mary still attends. When she wins the award, she begrudgingly walks to the podium to accept the award. She says, “I usually look so much better than this.” If anyone forgets that Moore was a comedic genius, watch this episode.
Chuckles Bites The Dust – 9.4
In the season six episode “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” everyone at WJM-TV is surprised when the station’s longtime funnyman Chuckles the Clown died in a circus parade. You hardly ever saw Chuckles, but you heard about him frequently throughout the show’s seasons.
During the funeral, Mary can’t contain her laughter. Then, when she’s asked to laugh, she bursts into tears. The episode tackled a taboo subject for television in 1975—not showing death but how people react to death. In 1997, TV Guide ranked the Emmy Award-winning episode as the number-one greatest TV episode of all time. In 2009, it was ranked as the third greatest TV episode in history.
The Last Show – 9.4
It’s often rare for a show’s series finale to be its best episode, but The Mary Tyler Moore Show is the exception to every rule. After seven seasons, fans had to say goodbye to Mary Richards and her friends.
After WJM-TV is sold, everyone’s jobs (except Ted’s) have been terminated. It was time for everyone to move on—quite literally. Mary has a hard time believing it’s over, and viewers knew Moore wasn’t acting. “The Last Show” is a bittersweet finale, ending with a heartfelt scene of the cast hugging and saying goodbye. The scene is regarded as one of the best television finales of all time. After seven years, Mary truly “made it after all.”
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