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Can she still turn the world on with her smile? - THE COMMENTARY

By Joseph Planta

VANCOUVER - Mary Tyler Moore, no matter what she does can, after all these years, turn the world on with her smile. If youíre some dim-bulb, who has no clue to the allusion in this columnís title and that last sentence, you wouldnít know that Miss Moore is known through that phrase as it came from the theme song of her show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore started her career as Dick Van Dykeís Laura Petrie on his own show. In the 70ís she started her own program and it became one of televisionís endearing, charming and well-loved sitcoms in history. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, personified the classic ensemble cast. Even though it was her own name gracing the title, her money and stuff like that, her cast truly supported her. Featuring Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Gavin MacLeod, Betty White and the brilliant Ted Knight, MTM made it big and made television history.

Well, after the show went off the air in 1977, Rhoda (Harperís character) got her own show, as did Phyllis (Leachman) and Lou Grant (Asner). We never really heard of Mary or Minneapolis again. Well, this Monday (February 7th) we are treated to a ďreunionĒ movie, that really isnít. Mary Richards is back, and Rhoda (Valerie Harper) is back too! It looks like a good idea, but deep down in my gut, as much as I love the old MTM show, I donít think itís really that good to have a reunion movie. Moore had originally wanted to do a series follow-up, but the years and years from the series finale prove too much of a gap for plot reasons.

Iíve wanted to see the old characters again, but then again, I have to adhere to that rule of letting sleeping dogs lie. (Not that Mare or Rho, are dogs, far from it.) I guess it was bound to happen. A reunion to satisfy the throngs of webbies clinging to message boards and website chat rooms devoted strictly to MTM stuff. Moore was damned if she did and damned if she didnít. Iíll watch for sure, but Iím kinda disappointed that Lou, Phyllis, Georgette, Ted, Sue Ann and Murray wonít be back. I hear, theyíre not even mentioned.

Finding life in old shows is sort of a phenomenon in show business today. The Charlieís Angels movie is creating buzz, as are the other knock-offís on film and stuff on TV. Somehow itís good weíre reconnecting to the past, and somehow it sounds like itís in pure taste.

Surprisingly enough, I was surprised and devastated that CBS, (MTMís original network) passed on this movie. But in retrospect, they were right. CBS was doing what it should have done, uphold their legacy. Iíll watch Mary & Rhoda on Monday night, and eagerly await it in the meantime. Itís good to see Moore and Harper back on TV, and I hope the ratings are good. Since itís on ABC, the ratings leader currently, this movie couldnít hurt them the slightest.

I guess that waif who got to Minneapolis in the dead of winter some 30 years ago, finally made it after all. Throw that beret in the air again, kid.

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