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The multi-Emmy-winning fourth season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show showed us the sassy side of Betty White and the softer side of Ed Asner's Lou Grant. Cast against type, White makes a memorable first impression in the season-opener as steely "Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens, who makes Martha Stewart look like June Cleaver. The episode "The Lars Affair" earned an Emmy for Cloris Leachman, and it is arguably her finest half-hour, as the ill-equipped Phyllis tries to domesticate herself after her husband has an affair with Sue Ann. Consider the bee, a dejected Phyllis tells Mary and Rhoda (Valerie Harper). "Once the male bee has... serviced the queen, the male dies. All in all, not a bad system." Sue Ann's debut is but one of this superb season's historic moments. The other is when "Ted Baxter Meets Walter Cronkite." "The big question," Murray (Gavin McLeod) asks, "is where do I sit to get the best view?" The event even exceeds the anticipation. "Let's talk shop," Ted (Ted Knight) tells the speechless Cronkite. "What words do you have trouble pronouncing?" The character who goes through the biggest changes this season is Lou. In the Emmy-winning episode, "The Lou and Edie Story," Lou is heartbroken when his wife moves out, leading to one of the season's funniest episodes, "Lou's First Date," in which an unwitting Mary sets Lou up with an 80-year-old woman to bring to an awards ceremony. Lou's difficulty handling displays of affection is put to the supreme test in "Happy Birthday, Lou!" in which Mary ill advisedly decides to throw him a surprise party. Speaking of disastrous parties, the classic episode, "The Dinner Party" (the one with the Veal Prince Orloff) firmly establishes one of the series' best running jokes: Mary's disastrous track record as a hostess. That's Henry Winkler as an extra, unexpected guest forced to sit at his own table. Moore was honored this season with an Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy. No doubt her Emmy reel included "Best of Enemies" (co-written by Albert Brooks collaborator Monica Johnson), in which Rhoda's tactless revelation of one of Mary's secrets threatens their friendship, and "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Writer," in which Mary and Ted take the same creative writing class and Ted plagiarizes her story. Mary may be a bust as a hostess, but season 4, this classic series' best to date, is a real party.

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FX2234430 Mary Tyler Moore Show Season 4 DVD (1974/Mary Tyler Moore/Ted Knight) $29.98 $26.99