Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (May 7, 2013)

Jennifer K. Armstrong takes us behind the scenes in her recently published book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic.  She goes behind the scenes with all the key players involved with the series, whether it's the creators, writers, or the talent.

MTM is one of the best sitcoms of all time.  All 7 seasons were nominated for an Emmy.  It has been off the air for 35 years and is still considered to be beloved and admired by many.

Without MTM, there's no Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, or Lena Dunham.

But the series, as Armstrong tells us, was not going to be about a woman coming off of a breakup.  Originally, she was going to be divorced but CBS said no.

Anything that could have gone wrong with the taping of the pilot did.  The air-conditioning did not work.  The jokes did not work.  The audience wasn't laughing.  Supported by producer Grant Tinker, producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns persevered, and the writers helped pave the way.  The talented cast of Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel brought the show to new heights.

When few shows employed many female comedy writers, Burns and Brooks were willing to hire them, most of whom wrote scripts based on their real-life experiences.  Many would go on to receive Emmy nominations and later to other sitcoms.

In the epilogue, Armstrong looks back at what happened to everyone after the ground-breaking sitcom went off the air.

What Armstrong writes is a must-read and must-own for anyone that is a fan of MTM, sitcoms, or comedy in general.

1 comment:

Mike Barer said...

Having actually watched the show during it's entire run, it really sound like a book that I would enjoy. The CBS heavy hitters were "All In The Family", "MASH" and "Mary Tyler Moore", they all came on on Saturday night. I watched them all, I remember there was a show called "Arnie" in between and at another time "Brigit Love Bernie".