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ON DVD: 'MTM' Season 5 finally makes it, after all
October 13, 2009  | By Diane Werts
mary tyler moore season 5 cast.jpg

How long have we been waiting for Season 5 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show? Well, the Season 4 DVD set came out in June 2006, so it was more than a three-year wait for Season 5 to hit shelves Oct. 6.

Which seems par for the course, since Fox Home Entertainment let nearly three years elapse between the DVD release of Season 1 in September 2002 and the arrival of Season 2 in July 2005.

(To be fair, we did get Seasons 2-3-4 in fairly short order: July '05, Jan. '06, June '06.)

Many MTM devotees are now elated. Others are angry. Yes, Fox can't win for losing. After agitating online to get more seasons coming, some of those same fans are incensed by Season 5's packaging.

dvd mary tyler moore 5 season.jpg

Its three discs come in a standard single-disc case with one of those center flipover inserts holding a disc on each side. Previous seasons came in the once-familiar (but now-disappearing) fold-out package. Loathers think the new plastic case seems cheap. Personally, as a multi-season collector, I'm thrilled its thinner profile takes up less shelf space, and it actually feels sturdier to me.

They're right about one thing, though -- the set's documentation leaves a lot to be desired. There isn't even an episode list, much less an episode guide, so good luck finding the show you want. (Try visiting tv.com and printing out the episode guide.)

Plus, the back of the case lists the wrong members of the cast. Valerie Harper is included, though she isn't in this season's episodes. (She was doing Rhoda then.) Newer regulars Betty White and Georgia Engel aren't listed, though they do appear. They're even in the cast photo right above the list!

I'll take it anyway, just happy to move my MTM collection toward completion. (Two more seasons remain unreleased -- Season 6 with "Chuckles Bites the Dust" and Season 7 with that clever series finale.) Sales of early seasons were not what Fox would have liked to see, perhaps because the show was rerun to death for so long that only the most fanatical viewers were willing to shell out for discs. (Early seasons were also priced a bit high, with Season 1 in the $50 list price range, while Season 5 arrives at $30. Amazon's discount brings that down to $25, as of Oct. 13.)

That explains those years-long lags in the release pattern, which seems to resume only when fans have worked themselves up into a lather.

A more efficient way to get the other MTM seasons released on DVD would be for sales to pick up -- and fan anger doesn't help promote that. As our friends at the definitive TV Shows on DVD site often remind, $$$ are the best way to impress studio distributors with your desires. I know that seems counterproductive when release specifics aren't to your liking. But sometimes -- especially with studios' older and lower-selling "library" titles -- it's either a semi-okay set or nothing at all.

Or another three-year wait.




Mac said:

I thought all MTM material was distributed by Fox. Amazon lists studio as Fox.

Diane Werts said:

Right you are, Mac.

I've changed the original post to refer to the correct studio, Fox (after mistyping CBS/Paramount).

Guess it's not a good idea to post something at the end of the day when synapses aren't firing.

Thanks for the catch.

Patrick said:

Don't blame CBS/Paramount for the three year delay in releasing "MTM" - Season 5. Twentieth Century-Fox owns the rights to most (if not all) of the old MTM library, and it's they who are putting out seasons at a snails' pace. Fox isn't even releasing the (in my opinion) awful series "Rhoda"; they've farmed that out to Shout Factory. Season Two of that porker will be out 1/26/10. Now, if Fox will release seasons two through six of "St. Elsewhere" and seasons three through seven of "Hill Street Blues", that would be a great thing.

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