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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: Volume 1

Greg Mullavey , Louise Lasser    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Legendary TV producer Norman Lear developed this outrageous soap-opera spoof staring Louise Lasser as a pigtailed, gingham-frocked housewife beset by a bewildering array of crises. The three-disc set features the first 25 episodes of the groundbreaking series hailed by critics as "hilarious" (TV Guide), "mind-blowing" (Newsweek) and "televisions zaniest show!" (Readers Digest) Mass murders, kidnappings and a flasher may be troubling the residents of Fernwood, Ohio. But housewife Mary Hartman has a much more serious problem; waxy yellow buildup on her kitchen floor. And while her husband Tom struggles in the bedroom and her best friend, country singer Loretta Haggers, struggles to make it big in Nashville, Mary teeters closer to the edge, desperate to save her marriage, keep her family together and give her kitchen floor a proper shine! "At first glance, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman resembles a daytime soap with consecutive airings, frame-filling close-ups, and syrupy score, but everything is off-kilter. When Mary isn't looking at other characters as if they're speaking in tongues, she appears to be on the verge of laughter or tears--maybe both at once. She's the ultimate desperate housewife. Aside from Grandpa Larkin, regulars include Mary's preteen daughter Heather, younger sister Cathy, and parents, Martha and George Shumway. In addition, there's Sgt. Foley, who has the hots for our sexually unsatisfied heroine, and Loretta's hubbie, Charlie, who works with Tom and George at the plant. Mrs. Haggers, an aspiring country singer, loves her Baby Boy "more than a hundred billion frozen Milky Ways." The first set of this groundbreaking series features 25 episodes. Between 1976-1978, a whopping 325 were produced, some as Forever Fernwood when Lasser left in 1977, reportedly due to exhaustion. That year, the series also spun off talk-show satire Fernwood 2Nite, which would soon develop a cult following of its own." --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Hartman x 2 Feb. 3 2010
This is the REAL DEAL. Anyone who watched the original shows will love this set. WARNING: You might be shocked by how goofy these people were! (And we didn't know it at the time!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars soap dished up new Sept. 3 2012
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still fresh and funny as I remembered it many years ago I hope the release a volume 2,I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the saga w.u.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shh..secret... July 29 2014
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Watched this at work..shhh..don't tell lol
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  144 reviews
95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great comic satire of soap operas Feb. 10 2007
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
When this show first premiered in January 1976 it gave Saturday Night Live a run for its money in being one of the most daring and inventive shows that had been aired. Louise Lasser's deadpan delivery as the often put-upon, under-appreciated Mary was delightful, and the show had a very talented supporting cast. Besides doing a great job of satirizing the problems of life in the 70's, it was a deft parody of soap operas in general, such as when Martin Mull returned as Barth Gimble, the twin brother of Garth Gimble, who had just died. Dabney Coleman was also great as the mayor, a true cynic who was much more interested in staying mayor than actually accomplishing anything. This show also gave birth to that great satire of the talk shows, Fernwood Tonight. Life probably wasn't too far from art in this case, since the first season ended with Mary in a mental institution, and I think putting out a new episode every night, just like an actual soap opera, took its toll on the whole cast, and Louise Lasser in particular. If you happen to remember the episode of Saturday Night Live that Louise Lasser hosted during that time, you know what I mean - the stress really showed. People looked forward to each new episode - just like a real soap opera - and there were 130 episodes in the first season alone. Thus, although I am grateful that we have the first 25 episodes, that doesn't even get us through the first one-fifth of the first season, so I hope more releases of this show are pending.
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We all waited ! ! ! April 5 2007
By Eddie Landsberg - Published on Amazon.com
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First, I never realized the enormous influence MH2 had on the Simpsons... I realized the trademark Normal Lear mix of social/pop culture satire and great writing, but there are even charactors from MH2 that seem to have made their way to that show as well....!

Anyway, I know I'm not the only person who's been waiting for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman to either make its way back to TV reruns or DVD... and the only who was ANGRY how long overdue it was, but now, finally its HERE... though I remembered it as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, to be honest, I didn't remember just HOW great it was, otherwise the wait would have been harder...

Starting with the first episodes (complete with the overhead mic slipping into the frame) the show is on a heavy roll... There's no laugh track, and no time killing... Jam packed with great script delivered by a crack ensemble. In fact, the writing is SO brilliant you get broadsided by the humor sometimes and find yourself gigling without even realizing why... then if you go back a half a minute and watch it again you're like... "oh my god ! ! !" (am I the only person who reacts like this?) The strange, soap opera spoof, non-sequitor double entendre lines, TV commercial derived dialogue and strange scenerios all delivered in the dry quirky uniquely MH2 style makes this a must have/must see/must repeatedly see view... and Mary Hartman's unforgetable young, unhappy, valium dazed housewife is so great... (and actually reminds me of my mother's friends and neighbors... back then going to shrinks and getting your tranqs to deal with the stresses of middle class American life was really in!)

Anyway, as you watch you marvel at the ensemble, but can see them doing their best to hold back from cracking up over their own lines and delivery... the show also strikes an edgy nerve... almost like Vonnegut on Valium. - - Though Louise Lasser may best be remember as one of Woody Allen's ex's, you can actually feel the Allenesque "zeitgeist" quirk via her brilliant acting. (Of course, the acting allegedly backfired when people actually believed that her nervous breakdown on the show was real!)

Watch Mary Hartman... the ultimate spoof of the American soap opera... and dysfunctional family life ! Over 9 hours packed onto 3 DVDs in a nifty slimline box set. Meanwhile... when's FERNWOOD TONIGHT gonna hit DVD ???
66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for Mary Hartman Feb. 17 2007
By J. J. Dangermond - Published on Amazon.com
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2/17/07 Amazon does it again. While listing the "stars" of this show, it fails to mention Louise Lasser (who Made the character of Mary Hartman), Dody Goodman (Mary's "long-suffering" mother), and Mary Kay Place (lovable neighbor Loretta Haggers). Sheesh! What's up with that? Hopefully Amazon will correct this major oversight soon. Certainly this isn't the first time that Amazon has listed television shows without the main star included - looks like the help need to pay a visit to Google.

Mary Hartman, for many, was a great guilty pleasure. People who scoffed at soap operas in the 1970s sat down and watched each night while Mary, early on, dealt with such issues as the waxy yellow buildup on her kitchen floor or her grandfather being arrested for exposing himself. Neighbor Loretta's funniest moments included her day stint appearance on The Dinah Shore Show cooking her sweet potato pie and making a crack that almost ended her career (Loretta's, not Mary's) , which included Dinah playing herself. Then there was the rivalry between Mary and her sister Cathy for the attentions of the police officer Dennis Foley. The show was also played "straight" and not for laughs, which added to the campiness and watchability of the show. Season One (probably the most famous season) ended with Mary melting down on the David Susskind Show. Season One also helped to spawn, briefly, the singing career of Mary Kay Place both as Loretta and under her own name.

I sincerely hope that the powers-that-be can arrange for the 1976 hilarious spoof of Mary Hartman from The Carol Burnett Show to be put on as a future extra. It was called "Mary Mary Quite Contrary, Mary Mary Quite Contrary" and had Carol as Mary, Vicki Lawrence as Loretta, Jim Nabors as Charlie, and Tim Conway as grandfather who liked to play peek-a-boo.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete Yes, But Damage is Contained March 27 2007
By R. Royall - Published on Amazon.com
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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.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, at last: Please keep the sets coming! Jan. 17 2007
By Jason - Published on Amazon.com
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One of the exciting things about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman getting released on DVD is the possibility that a new generation of viewers can discover this beautifully strange satire for themselves! I first caught a couple rerun episodes when I was in high school in 1990, and from that moment on I was hooked: by the great blend of surreal comedy and heartbreaking humanity, by the excellent performances of Louise Lasser, Dody Goodman, and the entire cast, by the fact that there has been nothing like it on television before or since. I'm convinced the group who fell for it in 1976 will revisit it with glee, and the group of young adults who never had a chance to see it because it got buried and forgotten in the 80s and 90s are in for a major cult comedy treat. FINALLY indeed. May Sony release all 325 episodes in 13 volume sets. Us MHMH fans will rejoice with every new addition. Enjoy!
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