The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season

Though the Mary Tyler Moore Show is a classic ensemble sitcom, it comes off more stiff and antiquated than anything else in this second season collection. Really this DVD set is the equivalent of a time capsule, a slice of what was happening with television programming in the '70s. Shows like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Mary Tyler Moore were revolutionary for their confrontations with social stigmas and issues surrounding bigotry, class divisions and sexism, and for this they can be commended. In the case of Mary, the sitcom played with feminist ideals regarding the male-centric workplace, surrounding a well-meaning, single woman named Mary Richards (Moore) with silly male co-workers (Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Gavin MacLeod, and John Amos) and varied girlfriends (the sassy Valerie Harper and the uptight Cloris Leachman). Richards works as an associate producer on a nightly news program where she must overcome both her youth and misconceptions about her abilities as a woman. Despite its weighty subtext, the show doesn't really deal with anything more serious than teaching a young girl about the birds and the bees — a duty that somehow falls upon the childless Mary. Much like Seinfeld, the show's namesake mostly plays it straight, rarely behaving silly. Instead, Moore bemusedly reacts to her co-stars who get the big laughs with their colourful characters. The trouble is that a look back at the show doesn't treat the characters all that well, with most of them coming off as under-developed and predictable. The writing seems stilted and the dialogue out of each character's mouth can virtually be telegraphed. They might be lovable personalities but, other than their lead actress, the cast often appear wooden on-stage. There's something about Mary all right but even her earnest heart can't save this second season from seeming somewhat clumsy and dated. Plus: commentary, documentaries, "Moore on Sunday," Emmy Award clips, photo gallery, more. (Fox)