Mary is back and continuing to balance work and play. With Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) constantly bickering at home and Lou Grant (Ed Asner) trying to hold the WJM newsroom together with Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) and his inflated ego, Mary is trying to make it on her own!
The Mary Tyler Moore Show—Season 2 aired from September 18, 1971 to March 4, 1972. It continued to meet with great rating and positive reviews. The season was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Actress (Mary Tyler Moore) and Best TV Show and Ed Asner winning Best Supporting Actor. It also received Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series (Mary Tyler Moore), Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy (“Throughly Unmilitant Mary” and “Where There’s Smoke There’s Rhoda”), Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy (Ted Knight), Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in Comedy (Cloris Leachman), and Outstanding Series—Comedy. It won awards for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy for Ed Asner and Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Comedy for Valerie Harper (shared with Sally Struthers for All in the Family).
The Mary Tyler Moore Show continues to push boundaries with the second season, but still keeps its toes in the comedy genre. It pulls this off by a great cast (I’d have a hard time picking supporting cast members because without the supporting cast, it would probably fall apart). The show of course like most full season sitcoms have episodes which aren’t as good as others, but the good far outweigh the bad.
Like many sitcoms, consistency pays off. The characters start to develop traits that make you love them, and Mary and her friends all have them. Be it Rhoda storming in with her self-deprecating humor, Ted Baxter not understanding anything, or Lou Grant’s lovable gruffness, The Mary Tyler Moore Show has very memorable characters that you feel you really know.
The season does have an interesting “finale” episode (sitcoms weren’t really written with finales at the time this is true here). “His Two Right Arms” is a failed early spin-off of the series. It introduces The very Ted Baxter-like Councilman Pete Peterson (played by Bill Daily of I Dream of Jeanie) and his staff. The show didn’t get picked up and Bill Daily went on to The Bob Newhart Show and his assistant’s mother (played by Isabel Sanford) ended up landing on All in the Family and The Jeffersons…I actually liked when series tried to do this because it is always so weird when an obvious pilot pops up.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show—Season 2 is another strong season of a sitcom that had few weaknesses. The show holds up well and many of the newsroom stuff remains topical today. Mary Tyler Moore is such a great leading lady and does light up the screen, and makes Mary Richards one of the nicest and likable characters of all time.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:
2.1 The Birds… And… Um… Bees Airdate: 09/18/71
Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) puts out a sex-education documentary which brings up questions for Bess Lindstrom (Lisa Gerritsen). When Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) decides she can’t talk to her daughter about sex, she recruits Mary to tell Bess about the birds and the bees.
2.2 I Am Curious Cooper Airdate: 09/25/71
Mary asks Lou Grant (Ed Asner) to hook her up with his friend Mike Cooper (Michael Constantine), and Lou breaks his rules to do it. When Mike and Mary decide they aren’t a match, they wonder how to tell Lou.
2.3 He’s No Heavy, He’s My Brother Airdate: 10/02/71
Mary learns that she has to take her vacation in the winter and decides to go to Mexico with Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper). When they are forced to go to a hotel suggested by a Mexican restaurant manager, Mary and Rhoda wonder if there is something suspicious when he asks them deliver a package for him.
2.4 Room 223 Airdate: 10/09/71
Mary decides she should know more about the television business and takes a community college course on television.
2.5 A Girl’s Best Mother Is Not Her Friend Airdate: 10/16/71
Mrs. Morgenstern (Nancy Walker) is coming to visit again. When she sees Phyllis’s relationship with Bess, Mrs. Morgenstern decides that she has to be friends with Rhoda instead of being her mother.
2.6 Cover Boy Airdate: 10/23/71
Ted’s brother Hal Baxter (Jack Cassidy) is in town and Ted (Ted Knight) is out to impress him. Lying about a relationship with Mary, Ted, Mary, Hal, and Rhoda are faced on an awkward double-date.
2.7 Didn’t You Used to Be…Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Airdate: 10/30/71
Mary’s school is celebrating an anniversary, and Mary decides to attend the reunion. Going with Rhoda, Mary discovers being a career woman sometimes has a bad ring to it.
2.8 Thoroughly Unmilitant Mary Airdate: 11/06/71
When the writers and talent go on strike, Mary and Lou find themselves having to do the news by themselves with Lou taking to the air.
2.9 And Now, Sitting In for Ted Baxter Airdate: 11/13/71
Mary discovers Ted hasn’t taken a vacation in four years and learns that Ted is afraid to leave his job because he could be replaced. When Lou brings in a perfect anchor named Rod Porter (Jed Allan), Ted learns that Rod is gunning for his job.
2.10 Don’t Break the Chain Airdate: 11/20/71
Mary receives a chain letter from Lou and finds herself forced to not break the chain. When Mary sends out the letters, Mary finds herself propositioned by men named Armond Lynton (Jack De Mave) and Roy Martoni (Gino Conforti).
2.11 The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch Airdate: 11/27/71
Lou goes out with Mary and Rhoda to a film and catches his son-in-law Billy (Lawrence Pressman) with another woman at the movie theater.
2.12 …Is a Friend in Need Airdate: 12/04/71
When Rhoda quits her job, Mary finds that she doesn’t want Rhoda to work at WJM. As the weeks pass, Mary wonders if Rhoda will ever get a job.
2.13 The Square Shaped Room Airdate: 12/11/71
Lou’s wife is out of town and Lou wants to impress her when she returns. He’s looking for an interior decorator…and gets Rhoda.
2.14 Ted Over Heals Airdate: 12/18/71
Ted’s seeing Chuckles the Clown’s daughter Betty Bowerchuck (Arlene Golonka). When Mary finds that Ted is hiding the fact he’s dating Betty, she learns that he’s afraid to be in love.
2.15 The Five-Minute Dress Airdate: 01/01/72
When Mary begins seeing a city official, Mary finds that she can’t seem to schedule their first date due to his commitments.
2.16 Feeb Airdate: 01/08/72
When Mary, Lou, Ted, and Murray get bad service at a restaurant for a waitress named Randy (Barbara Sharma), Mary gets her fired. Mary hires Randy at WJM to make up for it but finds she’s made a mistake.
2.17 The Slaughter Affair Airdate: 01/15/72
Murray is moonlighting as a cab driver to get a new car for his wife Marie (Joyce Bulifant) but falling off at WJM. When Murray’s wife discovers he’s lying about working as a teacher, she believes Murray and Mary are having an affair.
2.18 Baby-Sit-Com Airdate: 01/22/72
Lars and Phyllis are headed out of town and Phyllis has asked Mary to watch Bess. When Mary has an unexpected date come up, Mary is forced to find a sitter…who happens to be Mr. Grant.
2.19 More Than Neighbors Airdate: 01/29/72
Mary’s downstairs neighbor moves out, and Mary and Rhoda learn that Phyllis and Lars manage the building. Ted finds out about the apartment, and Mary tries to find a way to keep him from getting it.
2.20 The Care and Feeding of Parents Airdate: 02/05/72
When Bess writes an article that Phyllis deems as significant, Phyllis recruits Mary into trying to get it turned into a book. Phyllis begins to take control, and Bess comes to Mary with a secret.
2.21 Where There’s Smoke, There’s Rhoda Airdate: 02/12/72
Rhoda’s apartment burns, and Mary takes Rhoda in. Mary finds herself trying to adjust to Rhoda as roommate and realizes that Rhoda is driving her crazy.
2.22 You Certainly Are a Big Boy Airdate: 02/19/72
Mary meets an architect named Matt Bryan (Bradford Dillman) and finds he’s a bit older with a son (John Rubinstein) not much younger than her. As Mary finds herself having troubles communicating with Matt, Matt might not be able to connect to Mary.
2.23 Some of My Best Friends Are Rhoda Airdate: 02/26/72
Mary is struck by a woman named Joanne (Mary Frann) and finds a quick bond to her. As Rhoda thinks Mary is passing her up for Joanne, Mary uncovers a secret about why Joanne doesn’t like Rhoda.
2.24 His Two Right Arms Airdate: 03/04/72
Mary is strapped for a guest for her Sunday morning show and forced to try to bring in Councilman Pete Peterson (Bill Daily). As Pete prepares for the show, his staff Sherry Wilson (Janet MacLachlan) and Jennifer Riley (Carole Androsky) try to keep Pete from looking bad on TV.