When I was a kid my favorite sitcom was M.A.S.H. The clear and compelling anti-war message, as revealed through Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce, spoke to my need for clarity and justice.
One show that was not in my rotation back then was The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I knew that it was revolutionary in having a single working woman as the focus, but by the early 90s this was less noteworthy. But I decided to see what all the fuss was about, tuning into some episodes on Nick at Nite.
Ehh. The set seemed small, and Ted Baxter was ridiculous.
A few years ago I decided to revisit both M.A.S.H and MTM, and how times had changed.
Now M.A.S.H seemed preachy, high strung, predictable. Hawkeye's certainty about almost everything is irritating, not refreshing.
Mary Tyler Moore, on the other hand, contains depth and nuance. Mary moves from a studio apartment to a high rise and becomes the main producer of the news. Ted and Georgette get married. Lou gets divorced and starts to date again. Rhoda moves back to New York, Phyllis off to San Francisco. Murray and Marie adopt a son, from Vietnam. Sue Ann Nivens is fragile beneath all those cutting remarks.
These characters actually developed over the 7 seasons of the show, and the writing only got better as it went along. That is a rare feat.
So I stand corrected from that early 90s silliness -- The Mary Tyler Moore Show stands the test of time.