TVDVDJunkie is correct--Episodes #22 and #24 are not the originals. I have compared the DVD episodes to my videotapes, both from the 1980 CBS late night run and the 2002 TVLand run, and there are two 3 minute sequences missing involving the Haggars' run-in with the hillbillies. There were three sequences in total: (1) the initial hillbilly encounter at gunpoint at the end of Episode 22 which has been deleted, (2) the primary scene where the hillbillies suggest a song to Loretta in Episode 23, which survives intact, and (3) the lead-out scene in Episode 24 where Charlie and Loretta are alone in the car discussing what almost happened with the hillbillies, just before their car accident with the nuns, which discussion scene has been deleted. Both deleted sequences run about 3 minutes. I checked every episode on the third disc... Episodes 19 through 25 and this is the extent of the damage....just six minutes. Everything else survived.
How could this have happened? I think it was carelessness, rather than deliberate. This is my theory. Many of you are too young to remember that during the summer hiatus of 1976 (July 5, 1976 to October 1, 1976), the stations participating in the MH syndication aired "The Best of" Mary Hartman. These were 65 compressed, edited versions of the original first 130 episodes that aired January 5, 1976 to July 2, 1976. Rather than choosing the best 65 episodes, the producers actually reedited all of the episodes in order to maintain a story flow and allow new viewers of the reruns to understand the show. About 50 percent of the scenes had to be deleted to fit 130 episodes of material into 65 rerun episodes, so they eliminated extraneous tangents to stories, as well as some "B" stories, to just highlight the central plots of the show. That is why I believe the entire hillbilly sequence was deleted, because it was not critical to the Haggars story, which focused on the car accident that put Loretta in a wheelchair. I believe original Episodes 22, 23, and 24 were compressed into two episodes for summer rerun purposes. The editors in the summer of 1976 deleted all 3 hillbilly-related sequences from Episodes 22, 23, and 24, but kept the Haggars' car accident with the nuns. They also deleted previews of upcoming episodes, as well as the segments from Episode 23 that featured Coach Fedders at home, and Grandpa Larkin appearing in court. This permitted 3 original episodes to be compressed into 2 rerun episodes for the 1976 summer season. Episode 23's scene with Tom coming home from lunch to be confronted by Mary as she was waxing the floor, was cut into the end of Episode 22 to replace the first hillbilly encounter scene. Episode 23's scene with Mary visiting Dennis at the police station to retrieve her shoe was edited into the beginning of Episode 24, replacing the scene where Loretta and Charlie are in the car discussing what almost happened with the hillbillies. The rest of Episode 23 was not used in the 1976 summer reruns.
Here is what I think Sony accidentally did. They successfully preserved the entire Episode 23 that has the Coach Fedders scene and the Grandpa Larkin scene that was unused in the 1976 summer reruns. But they incorrectly used the marginally recut versions of Episodes 22 and 24 that were specially prepared for the 1976 summer reruns for this DVD collection! This is why one scene from DVD Episode 23 is duplicated at the end of DVD Episode 22 and another scene from DVD Episode 23 is duplicated at the beginning of Episode 24. Yes, this is very frustrating and careless but at least the total damage is no more than 6 minutes. The original episodes run 22 minutes, so we need not worry that every episode has something removed from it. They don't. Episodes 19, 20, 21, and 23 are EXACT duplicates of my videotaped episodes, with nothing missing.
One more point for us purists. I also don't believe Episode 25 is the original one either. HOWEVER, the only thing that is missing is some 3 minutes of previews at the end of the episode. Every other original scene is intact word for word. For the DVD release, Sony deleted the 3 minutes of previews that were at the end of original Episode 25 and replaced it with the first scene in Episode 26, when Tom comes home to Mary after finding out that Mae may have given him VD. Sony may have believed that scene provided a more logical cliffhanger to the end of Volume 1...or perhaps, this also is an altered Episode 25 prepared for the 1976 summer rerun season.
I hope my research clears up what actually happened. Sony would need to confirm my suspicions. I honestly believe the damage is contained and I hope someone from Sony reads this and realizes their mistake so that it won't be repeated. Otherwise, I agree with those reviewers who have praised the picture quality and urge fans to still buy Volume 1. Otherwise, we will have no hope of seeing the later Volumes that have become so rare. I have only seen Episodes #106-325 once, and have no videotapes whatsover of those shows. They deserve to be seen. Sony just needs to be a little more careful about who they send "down to the vault" and tell them to retrieve the ORIGINAL masters of the show, not the recut masters used for the 1976 summer reruns.