A big-hearted primer on one of TV's shining talents.
THE SPECIAL "Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration"
WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 8 on WNET/13
WHAT IT'S ABOUT A few weeks past the 45th anniversary of the premiere of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (Sept. 19, 1970), this "Pioneers of Television" special looks at a singular career, with interviews with Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper and Oprah Winfrey. An interview with Moore, 78, that's also included was conducted a couple of years ago, per PBS. Moore, who was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 1 at age 33, has been in ill health recently, according to various reports.
MY SAY How do you explain the appeal of Mary Tyler Moore to a 20-year-old who has never seen her shows, or movies or -- perish the thought -- possibly never even heard of her?
Easy! Tell this media-saturated soul to watch just the last five seconds of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show's" final episode, which aired March 19, 1977. It's replayed on Tuesday's "Celebration," or you can see it on YouTube (they'll know what that is). Just as Mary is about to turn out the lights for the very last time in the WJM newsroom, she glances around, her face wracked. Then . . . all of a sudden, as if the sun had emerged from behind a thunderhead, a dazzling Mona Lisa smile appears.
From despair to hope, in just under five seconds: The secret to her comedy, timing, talent, and, in fact, fundamental humanity.
Her many fans already realize that Moore was one of the great ones, and this generous, loving, warmhearted portrait won't tell them anything they didn't already know. Its many observations seem beyond reproach, while the passion -- indeed love -- with which they are conveyed absolutely is. Here's MacLeod, right to the point: "She was lovable."
Her fans also know of her current health problems -- the program discreetly ends before addressing those -- and of her tragedies, too, most notably the death of her son, Richard, in 1980. As such, there's a melancholic feel to this hour. Moore was a happy part of many people's lives. Their fervent hope is that she's found a measure of peace, too.