Thank You, Oprah (Three Words I Never Thought I'd Say)

After Oprah Winfrey held a Mary Tyler Moore Show reunion last year and gave her audience copies of the four seasons that had been released on DVD up to that point, Fox announced that, due to the newfound Oprah-generated interest in the show, they were finally planning to release the rest of the series. And now TV Shows on DVD have learned that a complete Mary Tyler Moore series box will be released on May 5.

Yes, it is annoying that people who have already bought the first four seasons (or even Oprah audience members who got them for free) will have to buy them all over again if they want the last three, but I don’t think anybody believes at this point that Fox treats its fans well when it comes to its TV catalogue properties. It’s just a relief to have the series finished, particularly since the final three seasons include some, if not most, of the best episodes. (Mary Tyler Moore is an unusual case of a show that took a big creative leap forward after it had already been on for a while. After a great first episode, the first two seasons were very uneven and have a surprising number of episodes that either don’t hold up or don’t work very well in structural terms. The third season unveiled a smarter, sharper style of writing and storytelling, and the writing kept getting better for several years thereafter, with maybe a slight falling-off in the final season. The departures of Rhoda and Phyllis for their own spinoffs didn’t really hurt much, because it just shifted the focus more to the ensemble workplace stuff, which was always more interesting than Mary’s home life and non-work-related friendships.)