Archive for the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Category

by Judi

Note: The title for today’s Top Five topic was clearly all Beal. I apologize for the bits of cheese that just flew out of your monitor.

5. Courtney Cox in Friends (1994 – 2004) and Cougar Town (2009)

Picture 1Sometimes, it feels like Courtney Cox has been around FOREVER. That Springsteen video, Family Ties, and then ten years on Friends, the short-lived Dirt on FX and now Cougar Town. I realize that it might be a little immature to count Cougar Town as Cox’s second iconic role but, honestly, I don’t see how we can ignore it. After just four episodes of the ABC’s Wednesday night show, my opinion of Courtney Cox has done a total 180. Not that I didn’t appreciate her character on Friends or anything. Far from it. The statement “she’s a Monica” has saved me on more than one occasion when I find myself trying to describe someone who is completely anal, a control freak and hyper-competitive. I just didn’t know if she could be funny as someone other than the Gellar-Bing we all know and love and sometimes find mildly annoying.

But she is. Jules Cobb, in point of fact, is far funnier and more real than Monica ever was (though both share a manic crazy gene) and Cox is so outrageously perfect in the role that you shouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, we all say, “Monica who?”

4. Rob Lowe in West Wing (1996 – 2006) and Brothers & Sisters (2006 – Present)

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This is not the first time on this site where I have to admit that I would watch Rob Lowe do anything (ANYTHING). I don’t care if he’s a dirty tool in real life, I don’t care how many nanny scandals or sex tape disasters he falls into, I don’t care how tanned he gets. I STILL watch that “Visit California” commercial just for those three seconds where he’s sitting on that damned log. I. love him.

I hate when people refer to his “comeback” because, really, his is just a fantastic career trajectory. Teen heartthrob, Brat Pack member, evil doer in now-classic SNL movies like Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy, then a plumb role on West Wing, a few failed pilots and now Brothers & Sisters and movies like The Invention of Lying. And that commercial where he’s sitting on that damned log. He seems to have found his place as a smart, wily, hot politician which is ENDLESSLY preferable to how he could’ve ended up. [Cough- McDreamy- hack- cough.] I’ll take Sam Seaborn and Senator McCallister, thankyouverymuch.

(Ok yes, I only posted this second clip because he’s shirtless. I AM A HUMAN BEING, PEOPLE.)

3. Heather Locklear in Dynasty (1981 – 1989) and Melrose Place (1992 – 1999)

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There was a time in the ’90s when, if a TV show was starting to see a drop in ratings, a studio exec would yell, “Get Heather Locklear on the phone!” It’s hilarious that our favorite TV blond bitch has pretty much evolved into the TV equivalent of an emergency adrenaline shot.  Melrose Place needs a Joan Collins-like fix? Get Heather. Spin City suffering without Michael J. Fox? Get Heather. Scrubs needs a foil worthy of Perry Cox? You get the picture.

The guys behind the new, revamped Melrose Place obviously agreed because we’re only a couple of episodes into the first season and Amanda Woodward is already making an appearance. Not that I’m sorry about that in the least. Of all the prime-time soap characters throughout the ’90s, Heather Locklear’s Amanda is the only one fierce enough (yup. Fierce. There is no other word, sorry) to look like she actually would eat her own young for a corner office, which makes her endlessly fun to watch.

Her voice is HILARIOUS in Dynasty. Is she 15? You know that for all her posturing, Joan Collins could just destroy her from that reclining position.

2. Danny DeVito in Taxi (1978 – 1983) and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present)

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Aw, Danny. Our favorite petite scuzz-ball. On Taxi, he was Louie DePalma- gross, unkempt, lewd and slightly lovable. He secured some classic moments for my favorite cab-centered sitcom. Now, as Frank Reynolds on Sunny, he’s evolved into the kind of creature you find in a shower drain. He’s filthy, his hair’s always standing up and he’s more at home climbing through a disgusting ceiling vent than he is in daylight. God bless him. He  looks like he’s having the time of his life too.

With Taxi, he found a classic comedic role. With Sunny, he’s quickly climbing into cult icon status. How many cast members of the movie Twins can you say that about?

1. Mary Tyler Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961 – 1966) and The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977)

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And now for something a little different. It isn’t easy jumping from a rat-infested ceiling vent to the Rob and Laura Petrie’s house, but I’m going to do my best.

Of all the classic, black & white sitcoms, The Dick Van Dyke show is by far my favorite. I never get tired of watching it, of Rob’s pratfalls, of Sally and Buddy’s wisecracking in the office and, of course, Mary Tyler Moore’s charming, classy Laura. If I had magical TV powers, I would reach through my TV set and plop Mad Men’s Betty Draper in front of her TV to let her see how Laura Petrie gets it done. It IS, after all, possible to be a stay-at-home wife and still be funny, sexy, and believably cheerful. In her cigarette-pants and Jackie O bob, she’s the Audrey Hepburn of housewives. Even her warbling cry is funny.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, in the ’70s we received spunky, sweet Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, aka TV’s Gift to Mankind, which is still as sharp and funny and adorable as it was thirty years ago. And I’m not just saying that because The Mary Tyler Moore Show pretty much saved me from going insane over my last year of unemployment.  Even though it did. It absolutely did. I don’t know where I would be without Mary Tyler Moore but I know I wouldn’t want to find out.

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by Beal

No cast of would be complete with out a requisite “best friend” character. This person can come in all shapes and sizes, but they usually possess similar traits. By and large, the BFF is slightly less attractive than the main character (or in the event that they’re prettier, they’re much dumber), spunky, eccentric and are generally blessed with loose morals, a colorful background and a somewhat checkered past. We rarely, if ever, get to meet their families, or see the inside of their homes. (Oh, and bonus points if they enter/exit the main character’s house/room via a secret entrance.)

In episodes in which they appear, they’re likely to get our TV protagonist into some kind of entertaining pickle, but at the end of the day, they’re always a nice shoulder to cry on. Their mug may not make its way onto the opening credits, but the following best friends have made their way into the hearts and minds of millions, or at least mine:

5. Millie (Sarah Hagan) as Lindsay Weir’s (former) best friend in Freaks & Geeks.

MILLIEAlright, alright, so Lindsay could no longer endure BFFdom with Millie by the time the show began, but we all know their history, and what they used to be, were best friends. Before an army jacket clad Lindsay, abandoned the mathletes and started partying with the freaks, she and Millie used to stay up late playing Uno, eating Lic-a-Maid and practicing advanced mathematics. That is, until Lindsay and Kim accidentally kill her dog and Millie makes a brief foray into the world of freakdom (long enough to drink a single beer and almost attend a The Who concert). And when Lindsay spent an episode as her former super nerdy self, it was Millie she went to first, well, and also Millie’s lame slumber party that she snuck out of in the end. Still, props to Millie for always being there, especially when Lindsay accidentally got to0 stoned to babysit:


4. Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond) as Wally Cleaver’s best friend in Leave it to Beaver

eddie haskellNo list of best friend types would be complete without a shoutout to the original “best friend,” Eddie Haskell. This little son of a bitch is the archetype, from which all other TV friends are molded. He’s polite to the point of obnoxious, and wait for it, a total asshole as soon as he’s without the presence of adults. Mostly I love that he refers to Wally and the Beaver as Wallace and Theodore (how was “Ted” never an option for this kid?), oh and how he’s always getting those two knuckleheads into trouble. Seriously though, Eddie Haskall is a national treasure, whose name appears more frequently in American culture than you could ever imagine, mostly from my mother’s mouth when she knew my “polite” friend was actually “a smoker.” 


3.  Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), D.J. Tanner’s best friend in Full House.

GIBBLERThe answer is “no.” I am not ashamed that EVERY “Top Five” list I write includes not only Full House but usually a Kimmy Gibbler reference. I can’t help myself though, this bitch is TV gold. She is abhorred by most of the Tanner family, despite her constant efforts to land herself on “Mr. T’s” good side. She lives next door, her feet stink, her family competes in roller derby events in their house, and at one point, Kimmy mentioned shooting rats at the landfill with her father as an evening activity. How the hell did these white-trash carnie folks afford a classic Victorian in the Western Addition anyway? Whatever, anyone who can rock spandex that loud deserves my utmost respect. Also, I’m convinced that if this show would have lasted past the 90’s, Kimmy and Joey might have ended up getting drunk, and waking up in bed together. A match made if heaven? Or a match made in hell? You decide.


2.  Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper), Mary Richards’ best friend in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

ndharpermary-tyler-moore-013Rhoda is probably the quintessential best friend character in all of television history. Although her and Mary did not get along at first (they were vying for the same apartment in Phyllis Lindstrom’s building), Rhoda turned out to be alright–and to continue to live in her ever so 70’s studio apartment in the building’s attic. A native New Yorker, this bitch took no shit, and took naive and innocent Mary, and showed her how to “make it after all.” Rhoda was also “groundbreaking” (give me a break) for her portrayal of a single woman of the era, who was not widowed, divorced or looking to hook herself a man. Oh, and let’s not forget she ended up with a somewhat successful spin-off (that I’ve never watched). Their friendship also spawned one of my favorite scenes in (bad) cinematic history, and since I can not find the clip, I can only offer the following bit of dialogue: 

Romy White: You are not cuter, Michelle.
Michelle Steinberger: I am so cuter. It’s like…common knowledge, Romy. Everybody thinks so. I’m the Mary and you’re the Rhoda.
Romy: That’s ridiculous. You’re the Rhoda. You’re the Jewish one.
Michelle: Oh my God. I’m talking cutenesswise, Romy. Okay? And cutenesswise, I’m the Mary.


1. Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) as Angela Chase’s best friend in My So Called Life

aj_langerRayanne Graff is the epitome of “the girl your mother warned you about.” Who would not want Rayanne to be their best friend? Due to her trashy mother’s ignorance, Rayanne’s life lacked adult supervision entirely. She seems to know some seriously shady individuals, is sexually active, embraces 90’s trends and has no problem consuming drugs and alcohol en masse. Like us, Angela wishes she could be more like her new best friend (fuck Sharon) Rayanne, especially because her scumbag Mom is of the “I’d rather it happen under my roof” school of thought, which obviously leads to some serious issues in Rayanne’s life, mostly an overdose. 


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Although it is occasionally overlooked, especially in the era of modern television where Tivo or DVR can fast forward through it, and DVD’s allow it to be clicked past with the touch of a button, the INTRODUCTION is still as crucial as it ever was in initiating the program you’re about to watch.

Intro’s come in all varieties. They might use an original song, such in the case of Gilligan’s Island or The Beverly Hillbillies, that remind us of the initial premise of the show. In case you ever forgot HOW Gilligan and the gang got stuck on the island or WHY the Clampetts are living in the lapse of luxury, their 30 second intros are a quick and catchy reminder to the viewer of a “three hour tour” gone awry and how ol’ Jed discovered some black gold (oil) and “moved to Beverly, Hills that is.”

Other shows give us cheery, almost motivational songs, full of family-friendly lyrics, sung over pictures of smiling cast members, allowing us to realize just how great this program is about to make you feel–Full House and Family Matters come to mind.

Still, nothing beats a great instrumental number over a brilliantly produced montage.

Here is a list, in no particular order (because really, can ANYONE choose their favorite program intro?) of my top ten favorite television program introductions:


1. Dallas

Seriously, best song ever. It’s my cell phone ring, and has been for about two years. The rich people and Texas-y shit visuals make it all the more amazing to listen to.

2. The Golden Girls

This song is all the rage back in St. Olaf, oh and at my house too. I like to hear it about three times per day, and nothing makes me happier than watching Blanche saunter down the hallway boldly with her eye shades resting on her forehead. 

3. Doug

So I can’t find the actual intro, but the song is the most important part. I would say that this song is in my head 60% of the time that I am awake. I think that counts for something.

4. Beverly Hills, 90210

A greater guitar riff has never, nor will ever, exist. Combine that with high fives, muscle flexing, surfboards and high wasted pants, and you’ve got yourself a hit.

5. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Throw that hat right up, Mary, just throw it right up into they air! You’re sooo going to make it!

6. Laverne & Shirley

Another total classic, and perhaps Wayne and Garth solidified this one for me, but seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this.

7. Rescue Rangers

Action, adventure, use of the word “gumshoes,” terribly generic 80’s rockin’ jam with repetitive lyrics. Animated perfection.

8. The Dick Van Dyke Show

Is he or isn’t he going to trip on the ottoman? And how great is the voice over for who stars in the show? Since when could we not just READ that on the screen?

9. The Wonder Years

Joe Cocker! And this grainy olden timey film. I’ll save you the half hour and just tear up now.

10. Pee Wee’s Playhouse

Everything I ever wanted in a television program, or life, can be found in this two minute, 27 second introduction. God bless you Paul Reubens, god bless you!



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