******** UPDATED REVIEW ********
**** EDITED ON JANUARY 19, 2006 ****
The sensational and laugh-filled third season of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" hit DVD in an attractive 3-Disc set from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on January 17th, 2006, only six months after Season 2 was released (not bad at all, especially when compared to the 34-month wait MTM fans had between the Season-One and Season-Two DVD releases).
Season 3 of TMTMS (originally seen on CBS-TV during the 1972-1973 television campaign) has so many highly-memorable episodes amongst its 24-show roster -- such as: "My Brother's Keeper", "Rhoda Morgenstern: Minneapolis To New York", "Operation: Lou", "You've Got A Friend", and the hilarious "Put On A Happy Face".
The "Happy Face" episode has Mary suffering from a variety of ailments, injuries, and afflictions just prior to having to go to the annual "Teddy Awards" banquet. It's one of my all-time favorite MTM installments. I'd recommend freeze-framing that episode at the 9:36 point in the program for a funny "Mary In Mid-Air" moment. I only wish I were Lou Grant in that particular scene. :)
I never fail to be amazed at how well this TV series holds up over time. Every single one of these third-year episodes, in my opinion, seems utterly perfect (both script-wise and picture quality-wise on these DVDs...gorgeous color and overall video quality).
Just a few sample episodes from Season 3 reveal the exquisite storylines, characters, relationships, and friendships that I'm literally envious of with each viewing -- "You've Got A Friend" and "The Courtship Of Mary's Father's Daughter" (both co-starring the great Bill Quinn as Mary's dad) are two such examples. Beautiful shows. Wonderfully written and brilliantly acted, with just the right dose of sentiment mixed in with the humor. Like when Mary's dad bandages the wrong finger after Mary cuts herself in "You've Got A Friend". One of the best scenes ever done in the whole series.
And "Rhoda Morgenstern: Minneapolis To New York" is another winner from Disc #2 of this collection, exemplifying what the word "friendship" really means.
I want to watch them all again. And will...very soon, thanks to this excellent DVD set from Fox Home Entertainment.
And also remember to keep your ears perked for "The MTM Honker" (aka, show executive James L. Brooks). Brooks likes to occasionally let loose from behind the cameras with the funniest doggone laugh I've ever heard (which sounds more like a "honk" to me). I love it when he lets fly with one unexpectedly. He gets off one or two in the "Happy Face" episode, and many other eps. as well. (And if you have any videos of Mary's spin-off series, "Rhoda", you can hear James honkin' up a storm throughout many of those shows too. He's a riot all by himself, IMO.)
Also in the "Happy Face" show, listen for another of the great lines of dialogue that the MTM writers regularly give to Rhoda (played to a tee by Valerie Harper):
MARY -- "Rhoda, chocolate solves nothing."
RHODA -- "No, no -- cottage cheese solves nothing; chocolate can do it all."
~ Honk, honk! ~ :-)
Like the first two full-season DVD sets of this always-delightful TV series, the complete third-season collection sparkles brightly in the A/V departments. The video looks crisp and clean, with warm colors, and the Dolby Digital (mono) audio sounds just fine. No complaints from this writer whatsoever.
The bright, bold colors that can be found in this TV series are really brought to the forefront during the scenes which take place in Rhoda's apartment. That lady lives in a veritable rainbow of color up above Mary's place on "North Weatherly" in Minneapolis. And those many hues look fabulous on these Digital Discs too. As does the show's star, Mary Tyler Moore. Mary looks positively stunning throughout this third season. Wow! :-)
But unlike the two earlier MTM DVD boxed sets, this third installment lacks any special bonus supplements. But I kind of figured that would be the case many months ago even before it came out. The first two seasonal sets contained quite a lot of extra material, and there just might not be a whole lot left to dig up in the "bonus" department. (Although a few of the original CBS-TV promo clips would have been nice. But even without a single bonus item, this set is a required purchase for fans of TMTMS and fans of Mary Tyler Moore herself.)
The twenty-four shows (8 per disc) in this boxed set, as far as I can determine, are all complete and uncut episodes. I've performed a running-time check for each of the eight programs on Disc 1, and those shows have an average run time of 25:35. That stat certainly favors the use of the word "uncut" for sure! Here are the exact run times for those eight shows (you'll note a consistent trend):
"The Good-Time News" -- 25:34.
"What Is Mary Richards Really Like?" -- 25:31.
"Who's In Charge Here?" -- 25:36.
"Enter Rhoda's Parents" -- 25:35.
"It's Whether You Win Or Lose" -- 25:35.
"Rhoda The Beautiful" -- 25:36.
"Just Around The Corner" -- 25:36.
"But Seriously, Folks" -- 25:36.
A nice addition to this collection that many DVD buyers will appreciate is the inclusion of a "Play All" option on each of the three discs. Seasons 1 and 2 have no such marathon-playing choice. (Good job, Fox!)
The static and music-free DVD Menus have a different look to them vs. the previous two MTM sets, with Season Three featuring a faster response time when a Menu selection is made too. The previous sets have a short built-in "delay" when moving around the Menu system. There is a slight delay when accessing exactly half of the episodes in this third-season set (the last 4 episodes on each disc to be precise, which I imagine represents the shows on Layer #2 of each DVD), but it seems to me as though it's less of a delay that the earlier seasons.
I like the Menus very much; there are Sub-Menus for "Language Selection" and "Scene Selection" (with all text written out in the familiar "MTM" type font, featuring that unique mix of both lower-case and capital letters).
I cannot figure out, however, why Fox made these Season-Three Menus all "anamorphic" in nature. But they did. Which is a bit odd, because the episodes themselves, of course, are not anamorphically-enhanced (because they don't need to be, being Full-Frame 4x3 material in the first place). This is not an uncommon occurrence amongst DVD products though. But it is slightly irritating, because IMO a DVD for a Full-Frame program should maintain a Full-Frame (i.e., non-anamorphic) profile throughout its presentation, including the Menu structure.
The DVD packaging here is identical in style to that of the Season-Two set, with three plastic thin/slim cases utilized to hold the three single-sided discs. The three plastic cases slide into an open-ended outer cardboard carton (a slipcase box). Nothing fancy here; it's very simple and utilitarian, but it's a nice-looking and classy package just the same. (Although the lack of any official "DVD-Video" logo on the spine of the outer box seems a tad odd to me. The Season-Two set doesn't have any such "DVD" logo on its spine either. But the first-season set does have the logo. No big deal, of course. It's just something I always expect to see on the spines of virtually all DVD packages. Oh well.)
When I first saw the box-cover photo of Mary for this set I wasn't too thrilled with the look of it. It seems a bit awkward and unnatural-looking, with Mary seemingly sitting on thin air. But when I got the boxed set in my hands, the cover art started to grow on me. Now I kind of like it. (Heck, it's the lovely MTM after all, so it can't possibly be that bad.) ;)
The same front-of-the-box picture of Mary also adorns each of the three plastic inner cases as well. And there's a terrific (and funny) photo of Mary and Ted Knight ("Ted Baxter") on the back of the box.
Overall, I'm very impressed with this third-year Mary set, despite no bonus stuff being included. What especially pleases me about this particular collection is the fact that 20th Century Fox didn't just give up on the MTM Show following what I heard were disappointing sales for the first-season set. Since Fox already had Season #2 "in the can" (or close to it) when they released Season 1 in September 2002, it seemed logical to assume that that second set would also hit the market eventually too (which it did, albeit after a very long wait).
But Season Three was a different matter. I suppose Fox could have just tossed aside any thoughts of future MTM releases following those poor S.1 profits. But they didn't abandon Mary, and I, for one, am grateful for that decision. And not only didn't they abandon this classic TV series, they didn't cut corners on video quality for S.3 either. The PQ is every bit as good as the first two season sets. Plus, Fox even saw fit to improve some things over the previous DVD sets -- such as adding the Play-All feature and revising the Menu system to make it a bit more user-friendly (and faster). Hats off to the Fox folks!
A few more stats and loose ends re. this MTM-3 set:
VIDEO -- Standard TV ratio of 1.33:1 (as originally aired).
AUDIO -- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English only). No Spanish tracks provided this time 'round.
SUBTITLES -- In English and Spanish.
CHAPTER BREAKS? -- Yes. 10 Chapters per episode.
"PLAY ALL" INCLUDED? -- Yes.
INSERTS? -- No Episode Guide booklet is included. A multi-page ad for other Fox DVDs is in here though. (Some good series in there too.)
REGION CODE -- Region 1 (NTSC).
EDIT (Jan. 22, 2006) --- I took note of a very sharp-eyed reviewer's comments re. a small edit that Fox has made to the last episode of this 3rd-Season DVD set ("Mary Richards And The Incredible Plant Lady"). And that reviewer certainly is correct (although I must confess I had not noticed the edit at all until reading that review about it).
Ted Baxter's words (as he hums a song to himself) have most certainly been dubbed over with other nondescript humming. That must certainly indicate that the rights to the song that Ted is mumbling weren't acquired (or couldn't be acquired) by Fox Home Entertainment for this DVD release. That's a shame, indeed, but not Earth-shaking either, IMO. The same thing occurred in the first-season DVD set during the excellent Christmas episode, when portions of "White Christmas" were edited off the DVD soundtrack. Again, that's not a good thing either...but not nearly calamitous enough to keep me from enjoying these ever-so-slightly altered episodes of this superb TV series.
BTW -- There is a disclaimer (of sorts) re. that "Plant Lady" episode printed on the back of the Disc #3 DVD case. Although it doesn't specifically mention anything about that episode being "edited" in any manner, it does give the impression that the show is subpar in some way. The exact words read: "This episode has been restored to the best quality possible given the vintage source material".
Obviously, via those words, they don't seem to be warning the public that the episode has been altered in some way. It's probably a reference to the slightly-wobbly video quality that occurs during a small portion of the final (epilogue) scene. The PQ isn't rock-solid during that scene, which might have prompted that disclaimer.
It's a pretty safe bet that if you've got the first couple of seasons of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on DVD, you shall desire to own this third-season pack too. It's filled with 24 great episodes from a TV series that earned its reputation as one of the best television programs of its era.
So, why not ask Mary (Season Three) for a date tonight? She can't possibly say no -- because you've got the Season-Three DVDs (and the remote control too). ;)