Mary Tyler Moore sings "I Want to be Happy." introduces two of her guest stars and then says, "The three of us and some other terrific people will be back in just a minute."
Oh, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary. Including yourself among the "terrific people." But well you might. How we have missed your beaming little it'll be-all-right kisser since "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" expired last year. And how we wish you'd chosen as a return vehicle something a trifle less wimpy and limp than "How to Survive the '70s and Maybe Even Bump Into Happiness," your CBS special at 10 o'clock tonight on Channel 9.
All those writers in the credits and they could only come up with this --America's Mary merrily meanders through the fads and foibles of our time? Through encounter groups and singles bars and tennis matches and jogging? Hey, Mary! Didn't somebody out there breathe in somebody else's ear that all these subjects are feverishly boring, and that if you were going to meander merrily through them, you'd have to wield a meat-axe.
Recently at a New York press conference. Mary honey, you said, "I think of myself as a mildly amusing person, easy to be around, but not essentially comedic." But somebody behind this special -- maybe producer-director Bill Persky -- decided you had to prove yourself all things to all viewers. She jogs, she dances, she shows off her still-game gams!
And meanwhile rich comedic talents like Harvey Korman and, to a lesser extreme, John Ritter, stand around not doing much more than introducing sketches and providing transitions that someone no funnier than Lowell Thomas could have handled just as well.
There are a couple of genuine gems in the show, like when you're reunited with Dick Van Dyke for some elevator flirting in pantomime. Perfect. And then Korman finally gets to cut loose as the grandly grandiose host of "This is the Rest of Your Life," in which you are heard to ask rhetorically, "Oh, have I no shame?" Super.
Your last special, "Mary's Incredible Dream," was TOO different. This one isn't different enough. One hopes it's not the model for your new fall CBS series, because there have to be more imaginative ways of employing your intransigent sunny spunkiness than this.
We love you, you little Mary-kins you, but largely for what you bring out in others, not because you're the most versatile bundle of fun since Orson Welles. Mary, Mary, Mary Mary Mary Mary. Shape up or ship out.