Thanks to Oprah Winfrey, the longest saga in the short (and soon to end?) history of TV-on-DVD will come to an end soon: Fox has announced the seventh and final season of Mary Tyler Moore for October 5.
The show’s DVD releases have sort of summed up all the problems studios have had handling classic TV in this format. Since it’s the second best-known classic comedy Fox owns (next to the studio’s own M*A*S*H), they gave the first season a deluxe release with lots of extras in 2002, and prepared extras for the second season as well. But a whole bunch of things conspired together to make the set undersell what Fox had expected: many older viewers didn’t have DVD players yet (now they do, which is one of the things keeping classic TV DVDs on the market), the price point was too high for impulse buying, and the first season was uneven, leading to some less-than-enthusiastic reviews for the season itself.
So Fox shoved MTM into the vault. Finally, a few years later, after arguing over different ways to get the series out, they decided to release season 2 at a much lower price, making it better for impulse nostalgia purchases and people looking for cheap gifts for older relatives. They released seasons 2, 3 and 4 in that form (only 2 had extras because they’d already been produced), then stopped, because there was a glut of classic TV on the market and vendors didn’t want to carry them any more. So Fox canceled all the MTM shows without finishing them on DVD.
Then Oprah did that reunion show where she gave away copies of the four existing DVD sets, creating new interest in completing the show. So Fox announced it was going to release the whole series in one big box — and fans online got angry, demanding a chance to buy the last three seasons without buying the first four all over again. After all the angry calls and posts, Fox canceled the idea for the box and finally released the last three seasons, but very slowly and in cheap packaging.
It’s kind of amazing, really, that the show managed to get completed (knock wood) after eight years. Of course if it was this difficult for this show it seems unlikely that any of the other MTM properties will get finished, but one can always hope.
There will be no extras on the final season set, but Fox will include the “curtain call” that originally ran after the finale (it was replaced in reruns and VHS releases by the regular credits).
Yes, that’s right — Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver) played Ted’s adopted son. Really, if you see him anywhere you should just assume the show is almost over.