The Mary Tyler Moore Show Fall Preview

When someone as famous as Mary Tyler Moore dies, it’s hard not to focus solely on what made them famous. Her roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show pretty much overshadowed everything else she did, including several failed TV shows. But Mary Tyler Moore was so much more than Laura Petrie and Mary Richards. Countless memorials and tributes have already been written. There’s no need for me to pen one.

What I will share is this segment from the 1970 CBS fall preview special that showcases a new sitcom called The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It features a lengthy scene in which Mary Richards meets Lou Grant for the first time. Included is the famous “I hate spunk!” exchange between Mary and Lou.

(I’ve been unable to confirm if the 30-minute CBS preview special aired on television. The network may have created it for use at a gathering of CBS affiliates.)

Fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show will notice this isn’t the same scene from the series premiere. The dialogue is mostly the same but the set is different, as are the outfits Moore and Ed Asner are wearing. I don’t know the full story behind this footage. CBS gave The Mary Tyler Moore Show a firm commitment without ordering a pilot episode. Was this scene filmed or taped as a test to sell the concept to CBS?

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20 Replies to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show Fall Preview”

  1. At one time I knew the story behind this, but I cannot remember it. It most likely was to show to the network affiliates. I will need to do some research. Did you notice that the announcer mentions that it will be on Tuesday? This was obviously before Fred Silverman moved it to Saturday. He thought that it would not fare well on Tuesday, where it was scheduled, before he took over, between “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Hee Haw.” He felt that the show would not be a success in that time slot, and said it was the type of show the network needed to support.

  2. It may have been a test footage filmed for the preview, since the first episode, “Love is All Around” wasn’t filmed until July 3, 1970 (As Production Number 7001), according to Wikipedia.

  3. I have a feeling I’ve seen that clip before, possibly as part of a documentary about the show or MTM.

    It may have been that the studio was already busy with another production in April/May when fall preview specials would have been aired. It looks like the office of a TV executive. So they couldn’t use the same set as they would for the TV show.

    I also just read that Mike (Mannix) Connors died today. He also did a one-season show called Tightrope.

  4. And let’s not forget Barbara Hale aka Della Street from “Perry Mason”. They say deaths always come in threes.

  5. I member watching MTM on Saturday nights as a very young child when I had dinner in from of our TV. I didn’t appreciate what a gold clad sitcom MTM was being so young, but as I got older I could really appreciate MTM for the show’s sheer comedic brilliance. MTM was the best cast, best written and directed situational comedy ever produced. I still can’t believe Mary has passed from this world. The poor woman suffered for so many years with health crisises and personal tragedies. She was a trooper. A kind hearted generous woman who made a difference in this world. She’ll always turn the world on with her smile in my heart. Thank you Mary for your contributions in the entertainment field and your tireless campaigns for juvenile diabetes and animal welfare. You’re a beautiful soul Ms. Moore. I will miss you for the rest of my days.

  6. Different version of the theme song, too… a different arrangement, even a few different lyrics, if I’m not mistaken. The clip also obviously wasn’t filmed before an audience, as the laugh track is pretty evident. We were huge Dick Van Dyke Show fans, so we were interested in this show when we first heard about it, but had doubts that MTM could carry her own show. The first episode dispelled all doubts… of course she didn’t have to carry the show, because she had a brilliant supporting cast and great writers.

  7. A brief clip of this version of the scene between Mary & Lou is included on the 90-minute documentary about this show on the Season 1 DVD set. I’ve read that a disastrous filming/taping occurred on Tuesday, June 2, 1970 (also called, I think, “Black Tuesday”), where everything went wrong from the AC not working to the wrong personalities for characters from Rhoda to Lou (both considered too mean to be likable). In her bio, MTM stated that Ed Asner played Lou “like Anthony Hopkins with a taste for Jodie Foster’s liver”. Mary was in tears after this test filming, and Grant Tinker, her husband at the time and the financial backer of the show, told his creators, Jim Brooks & Allan Burns, to “fix it!”. Among suggestions added to the show were for Bess, Phyllis’ daughter, to state that she liked Rhoda even though “Mom hates her”. I thought that the filming that we see today was filmed that Friday, June 5, but it may have been filmed again (or instead) on Friday, July 3, 4 weeks later. In any case, this show was definitely bought with no pilot, as the pilot would have been filmed long before June if it had been needed for CBS to see the show before buying it.

  8. If the “Fall Preview” special ran 29 minutes, it was likely shown on at least a few CBS-TV affiliates (if not the full network).

  9. Interesting different instrumental used in this CBS promo; and one of the lines of the theme song Sonny Curtis was singing, “Girll you live so far from home.” Changed to,”Girl this time you’re all alone” for the regular production run. I personally like the second season theme song better with the neat mix of synths, brass and percussion. A Patrick Williams masterpiece.

    1. Also changed, “You might just make it after all” to “You’re gonna make it after all”. The first was too negative. I don’t know if any episodes aired with the original wording though.

  10. As I recall from a documentary that they were initially going to make her a divorcee but changed it because people would think it was a Dick Van Dyke sequel and she divorced Rob.

    1. I also heard that they thought audiences would think she had divorced Rob Petrie and I also heard that they changed it because divorce was too hot a topic for TV in 1970.

  11. After Mary Tyler Moore’s appearance in Dick Van Dyke’s 1969 special “Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman,” CBS offered Mary her own series with a commitment for 13 episodes. The video was made to sell the show to its affiliates since the show had already been picked up with no pilot. With casting not yet complete, creators James Brooks and Allan Burns decided to use this scene. CBS was not thrilled with the show or it’s concept. In an attempt to burn off the 13 episodes they committed to, the network placed the show on Tuesday nights behind Hee Haw. It wasn’t until late summer when Fred Silverman became the new head of programming that the show was moved to Saturdays, debuting September 19.

    1. It’s funny that the Tuesday, post-HEE-HAW time slot ended up being where CBS debuted ALL IN THE FAMILY that following January. AITF didn’t fit it w/ the other shows CBS scheduled earlier on Tuesday nights then (BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, GREEN ACRES, HEE-HAW) either, but CBS cancelled all 3 of those programs by the following September. HEE-HAW lasted another 20 years in syndication afterward, and the other 2 shows lived on in tv & movie reunions as well.

  12. I’m so glad CBS moved the MTM show from Tue. to Sat. night. It really helped to establish the show as an all-time classic.

  13. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a breath of fresh air for a very stale CBS at the time. Along with another cutting edge and incredibly successful sitcom, All in the Family, CBS comedies went from being blah to super sensational in the early 70’s. CBS’ esteemed Saturday night line up from the fall of 1970 to the end of the 1977 season was the network’s best effort ever. When MTM ended its network run in 1977 Saturday nights were never the same on CBS. And with The Bob Newhart Show gone a year later it marked and end of an era in television.

  14. I love MTM and all its characters The show is pure entertainment genius. Thank you for all the extra I own all the Season DVDS, but am wondering if anyone has noticed that many scenes are missing? At least 3? In the S1 DVD, the theme song does say ,” You might just make it after all…”

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