Anyone remember this show? I recently completed a two-year TV viewing project (Prisoner: Cell Block H) which put me in the mood for a contemporaneous show. Whereas I was somewhat familiar with P:CBH, having watched many episodes with no volume (my deaf mother followed it), I didn’t see too much of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. I think the reason was that, in my market, P:CBH aired at 10:30P but MH,MH was on opposite the news. I remember watching Fernwood 2night regularly, but by the time that was on I would have had a TV in my own room. Anyway, I recently finished watching the first 26 episodes of MH,MH for the first time, and am contemplating continuing on.

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I remember this being on when I was a kid.  The style of humor didn't appeal to me. I watched an episode or two of Fernwood 2Night, and its successor show, America 2 Night, but never got into it.  Never found Martin Mull that funny.

I remember hearing that the episode of Saturday Night Live that Louise Lasser hosted was such a disaster that Lorne Michaels would never allow it to be re-run.

When the show started I was 28. It was very tongue-in-cheek and, like other Norman Lear-influenced shows, very willing to push the envelope on controversial subjects. Fernwood Tonight grew out of it/replaced it.

Looking at the IMDB site I am reminded of a lot of the story-lines and how many good character actors and low-key comedians came out of it.

Louise Lasser was the love interest in my favorite Woody Allen film, Take the Money and Run. He knows he's falling in love with her when he decides not to steal her purse.

My girlfriend at the time was a fan of MH MH so I watched an occasional episode with her but the show didn't make much of an impression on me. I found the Fernwood Tonight spin off more entertaining. The one bit I recall from that show was, I believe, from the final episode where Martin Mull and his co-host were running a telethon to keep their show on the air. The phone did not ring until the final minute - unfortunately the caller only wanted to know what time Leave It To Beaver was going to be on.

I've never seen the show, but it has at least two comics connections. In 1976-77 Stan Lee and Frank Springer did a comedy soap opera newspaper strip called The Virtue of Vera Valiant or Vera Valiant, Vera Valiant. The Fabulous Fifties has a couple of posts on it. In the same period Archie's Betty and Me #79-#86 did a serial with parody soap opera and horror content titled "Betty Cooper, Betty Cooper". The covers can be seen at the GCD. When I read a couple of these as a kid I found them strange.

One thing I like about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is its lack of a laugh track. (We bought the complete series of M*A*S*H a while ago, but we wouldn’t’ve if it hadn’t had a “no laugh track” option.) I remember watching a lot of Norman Lear’s other lesser known shows, too, such as Hot l Baltimore and All That Glitters. I don’t remember anything about Hot l Baltimore except the set, and I don’t remember much about All That Glitters except I do remember all the lyrics to the show’s theme song. Anyway, I’ve decided to move ahead with MH,MH. I’m now thirty or so episodes in (to 325, plus an assortment of Fernwood 2Night).

We just finished rewatching M*A*S*H on Netflix Streaming. I wish they had a no-laugh-track option.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

One thing I like about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is its lack of a laugh track. (We bought the complete series of M*A*S*H a while ago, but we wouldn’t’ve if it hadn’t had a “no laugh track” option.) 

We're up to episode 76. I'm still enjoying them but my wife is not. Early in our marriage one of the shows she liked was Everybody Loves Raymond, and I didn't much care for that. I liked the actors, but there was something about the show that didn't appeal to me: I didn't like the characters. That's Tracy's problem with Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. There's not one character she can respect. I kind of like Mary Kay Place as Loretta Haggers, but she's not the sharpest tack in the box. I the episode we watched Saturday, her character got a big break performing live on the Dinah Shore Show. [It was a clunky plot device because the show was taped, and it had to be live for the plot to work.] Loretta made an anti-Semitic remark on live TV (which wouldn't have been aired it the show had been taped.]

Here's Mary Kay Place singing the song she wrote for her character, Baby Boy.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

We're up to episode 76. I'm still enjoying them but my wife is not. Early in our marriage one of the shows she liked was Everybody Loves Raymond, and I didn't much care for that. I liked the actors, but there was something about the show that didn't appeal to me: I didn't like the characters. 

That's exactly how I felt about Everybody Loves Raymond. I never watched it when it was on the air, but every time I come across a rerun, I can't understand how it lasted for nine years, because it's so awful.

We recently watched the entire run of Everybody Loves Raymond. We loved every bit of it. YMMV

The Good Mrs. Benson and I enjoyed Everybody Loves Raymond for the first couple of seasons---until the show underwent a subtle paradigm shift.

The original format had Raymond and his wife, Debra, standing together against the interferences of Ray's parents.  Although occasionally Raymond would buckle when dealing with his mother, he and Debra supported each other and respected each other.

That was the Everybody Loves Raymond that the GMB and I enjoyed.

Then, the central theme changed---gradually, but noticeably.  Rather than standing together, Ray and Debra became contentious to each other.  They began to snipe at each other, play dirty tricks on each other, and generally undermined each other.  Debra frequently---at least, once an episode---called Ray an idiot.  And he treated her like the Dragon Lady, to be deceived and ignored.

What happened to Everybody Loves Raymond was just what Tracy didn't like about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman---there were no characters to respect.  Not Ray or Debra, and certainly not his parents, Frank and Marie.  Even Ray's brother, Robert, who began with a certain quiet nobility as a police officer, began to show more and more lack of integrity.

The change in the show's appeal occurred to the GMB and me one evening, when we missed an episode and discovered we didn't really care.  It had once been a "must see"; now it had become a "so what?"

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - perhaps the most redundantly titled series in TV history!

We watched episodes #130-131 over the weekend. #130 was the last episode of season one, and aired July 2, 1976. This is the episode in which Mary Hartman has a nervous breakdown. I didn’t precede that with a “spoiler” because if you anything at all about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, you probably know about that. At the end of #130, Clete Miesenheimer (the local newscaster) breaks character and interviews show-runner Norman Lear. The plan is to run 16 weeks of “The Best of Mary Hartman” for the benefit of those who hadn’t seen them, followed by the second season premiere on October 4.

Louise Lasser hosted Saturday Night Live on July 24 (see above). I wish I would have thought about saving it until now, but I watched it a couple of weeks ago.

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