Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made the Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong follows her tribute to The Mickey Mouse Club (Why? Because We Still Like You) with Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a superb, highly entertaining history of one of television's most beloved sitcoms--the best show of all time, according to Entertainment Weekly.

In early 1970, Treva Silverman, along with producers and writers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, began work on a show about a young, divorced woman who moves to Minneapolis to look for a job. They felt, Armstrong writes, that it was time for television "to push culture forward instead of holding it back." (Still, realizing that audiences weren't ready for a divorced leading lady, they eventually made it that Mary Richards was separated from her boyfriend.)

Meanwhile, Mary Tyler Moore's career after The Dick Van Dyke Show was in a "perilous" slump. MTM Enterprises, the production company she co-owned with her husband Grant Tinker, got behind the show, but early rehearsals fell flat. Test audiences had a problem with one of Mary's friends, Phyllis (played by Cloris Leachman), but after the writers eased up on her sardonic personality and gave her a daughter, everything fell into place.

CBS, which had previously been lukewarm, now committed fully to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, scheduling it for Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. The rest--29 Emmys over seven seasons, including three consecutive awards for best comedy series--is television history. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

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