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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Discussion thread


alphanguy74

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I was hoping that we'd get another DVD set as well. Hopefully it will be on hulu or soemthing. I saw it when it aired the first time, and then again it was repeated late night when I was in high school. Just engrossing, and campy, and everything good. I love the end of that clip, when the cop says "Mrs. Hartman, your grandfather is the Fernwood flasher". He looks like he's about to crack up delivering his lines.. don't know if that was intentional or not.

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I wish more of it was available. The cast is just about perfect and while they all play a joke they take the joke seriously. There's a real sense of ordinariness which doesn't feel put-on. Mary's muted reactions to what is going on around her. And then for some livelineness, Mary Kay Place as Loretta Haggers, who also has her own kind of fascinating innocence. Some of the show is so ahead of its time, especially the episodes when Mary is taken hostage and the whole thing is treated as a big circus, complete with overly aggressive local reporter.

Looking through the Daytime TV Stars I got, from 1/77, they mention this:

You know the controversial Ed and Howard McCullough story on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman? Head writer Ann Marcus used to write Search for Tomorrow. There was a recent article in the New York Daily News which stated, without mentioning names, that the character of Ed McCullough was suggested by a well-known daytime actor that Ann Marcus knew here in New York. Supposedly, she heard the story that this rather masculine actor once walked up to an actress his first day on the set of a soap and said, "Hi, I'm ----------, and I"m a homosexual." And she supposedly said, "Hi, I'm ----------, and I don't give a damn." (Only she didn't say "damn.") It's true that this actor makes no bones about his sexual preferences, but the story about what he said to the actress was false. He wrote Ann Marcus a note asking whether it was true that she had based the character of Ed McCullough on him (inspired by this erroneous story), and she wrote back saying: "I deny it categorically. But if you sue me, I'll understand."

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Did anyone think there was a strange kind of quiet sexiness about the cop Mary wanted? I really liked him. Apparently he left the show because they wouldn't increase his salary. Then Norman Lear put him on All That Glitters.

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Norman Lear at this point was just golden. I'd love to know who the actor was referred to in that article, though! Carl, the cop did have a sweet, quiet sexiness about him, but my favorite was the reporter, played by Michael Lembeck. It's obvious thye based that character on Geraldo Rivera, and Lembeck nailed him really well.

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I liked Lembeck too, although I mostly remember him from One Day at a Time.

And a young Ed Begley Jr (did he still have long hair at this time) as the deaf/mute paired with the incomparable Debralee Scott. I sure miss her.

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I've loved what I've seen of it, the acting was great, and while they could have failed miserably in being a parody of soaps, they succeeded exceptionally.

I wholeheartedly agree. I just can't say enough about how great the show was at being a parody of soaps while sucking the viewer in and very much being a real soap at the same time. It's easy to see why it was a huge success -- the comedy attracted non-soap fans, but it was a huge manipulation to make them care about the characters enough so that when things got dramatic, the non-soap fans were still extremely invested in the storylines. Just superb. In the 35 episodes I've seen, there's nary an off moment of comedy or drama.

And that cast...man. That cast! I could go on and on about the cast. The main crew were all sublime, but so were the recurring stars like Samantha Harper, Michael Lembeck, Sudie Bond in her far too few appearances, REVA ROSE!!! who was adorable as Blanche. Will Seltzer played the hell out of Davey Jessup.

Did anyone think there was a strange kind of quiet sexiness about the cop Mary wanted? I really liked him. Apparently he left the show because they wouldn't increase his salary. Then Norman Lear put him on All That Glitters.

I found Tom more attractive, but Sgt. Foley definitely had a sexiness to him. I could never get past the nose, but that voice...:wub: I'm up to the episode where he and Mary kiss in his apartment, and the whole thing is very hot. Tom and Mae were hot together, too.

It's criminal that episodes 36-325 haven't seen any air time at all in at least 20-25 years. I'm so obsessed with the first thirty-five, I'm sometimes forget that that's only a small fraction of the whole run. I have seen, though, the pilot of Forever Fernwood, which was the continuation series after Lasser and Solomon left in 1977. It was very good, but since the story continued on from the last episode of MHMH, it was hard to know what all was going on, and there aren't any comprehensive synopses online.

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Here are some SOD synopses. I don't have all of them, just some. If anyone wants to see any more let me know. This is from the July 76 SOD (I think this was the first they covered -- I have the June somewhere and I think they said they were going to start covering them because of popular demand).

Mary tells Loretta that a birth certificate can be faked - Mike Wallace said so on TV - but Loretta and Charlie's protests are stopped cold when Muriel produces her ace in the hole (again from her bosom), a picture of a boy with six toes on his left foot - the Haggers men have had that characteristic for generations.

Charlie meets with Clyde and learns that Loretta might play Las Vegas, and, if she looks good in a bikini, she may get a part in a disaster movie's hoedown sequence.

All sparkled up, Loretta makes her appearance on the "Dinah Show," the launchpad for the rocketship of her career. In addition to making a pie that takes an hour and 25 minutes to bake, she gets into a discussion with an eminent doctor who has written a book about the relevance of bone surgery to the Inner City. Then Loretta expresses how impressed she is with the show's staff, and how surprised she is that are all so nice, since they are all Jewish. While Dinah blanches, the announcer ends the show with the disclaimer that opinions of the guests are not necessarily the opinions of Miss Shore.

Tom is upset about a number of things: mineral wastes in the water and the strangeness of his life with Mary and concern over some union "muscle" men who have moved in next door and do not bode well, not to mention a bill for $250 from Mona.

Martha wants to give Kathy the best for her wedding to Dennis, but she can't afford it, so she suggests the wedding be held in Mary's living room. Mary flatly refuses and continues to do her best to stop the wedding, including the ultimate sacrifice for Kathy's sake. She goes to Dennis's apartment, but he asks for a raincheck (Kathy came and is in the bedroom and Roberta came by and she's in the bathroom, and he's in a spot).

Later, Mary is visited by Roberta and Otto (Germanic and one of the founders of STET). Mary wants to drop out of STET, but no one leaves STET, says Otto. Roberta leaves Mary's house, though, to scream a while, when Mary tells her of Dennis and Kathy's engagement. Otto still won't take no for an answer, but he would take a cookie or a candy bar, if only Mary had something fun to eat in her house.

Mary tells Tom that things are alright between them now. She relined some shelves and bought some hamburger helper. It helped.

In the Haggers' absence, Muriel takes care of things, such as the $5,000 royalty check which she puts on the mantelpiece, and the notice of cancellation of Loretta's contract, which she puts in her bosom, that treasure trove where anything can appear or disappear at her whim. Muriel calls a confederate to make sure "Timmy" has his routine set for when he calls his "Daddy"; it just happens that the boy is black.

The Haggers arrive back in Fernwood just the teensiest bit discouraged after the rocketship of Loretta's career zoomed in the wrong direction, into the ground. All appearances cancelled (even the local Capri Lounge), but their spirits soar once again when Muriel hands them the royalty check and tells them she misplaced an envelope from Clyde but hints it probably contains new contracts.

Dennis tells Mary that his day off has been changed to Thursdays. After a bargaining session that would do any labor-management team proud...

MARY AND DENNIS MAKE A DEAL

Mary will give herself to Dennis once, and he will call off his marriage to Kathy. Finding both Kathy and Roberts in his apartment (waiting to find out what the score is), Dennis quickly recovers his aplomb and kisses them both hello. He adroitly manages to make a date with Roberta for later and to tell Kathy something may happen next Thursday which will make it impossible for him to marry her, but she will be one of the first three to know. Later, Roberta buys his story that their affair can continue, because his marriage to Kathy will be an "open" one.

Even after being beaten up and having Heather threatened by the union goons, Tom refuses to drop the union investigation because he's got the goods on the union secretary.

Mary tries to convince Kathy that her marriage to Dennis will be loveless, and Martha discourses on the relationship between marriage and sore feet.

Tom comes home and is vaguely worried because Mary isn't there. He should be worried, because she is at Dennis', necking on the sofa. Dennis wants Mary to say she feels something, but Mary doesn't want to talk about it, she wants to do it and get it over with. Offended, Dennis hands her her coat. He will give her another chance next Thursday, but for now the deal is off.

Mary muses that he is beginning to remind her so much of Tom: so much talk and so little action.

If you're slapped in the face with a dead fish, slap the fish in the pan and cook yourself a good ole meal. That's how the Haggers ultimately cope with the realization that Muriel won the pot and their $5,000.

THERE IS NO TIMMY

They have been "tooken and had." When they find the letter cancelling Loretta's contract, however, downhome sayings are no help. They are, for the first time, utterly defeated.

Thursday looms large in everybody's life. Roberta, waiting for Dennis' decision on that day, is prepared to accept his idea of open marriage, although she would prefer being the one he is "openly" married to. Tom, of course, cannot really understand the significance of Thursday, or why Mary talks about things like infidelity. When Mary presents convoluted theories about the subject (with the ultimate hope that infidelity isn't wrong, after all) Tom remarks that if this is logic, he'll take vanilla.

Thursday is important to Kathy, but if the decision isn't the one she wants, all the onus is on Mary, because she's the one who's making Dennis' eyes roam.

The day also figures heavily in the life of Martha, because if this wedding is called off, what will she do with a freezer packed so full of frozen canapes for the reception that there isn't any room left for TV dinners; and she just couldn't endure another week of having to cook dinner from scratch - it's just too much work.

VERTICAL MOUTH-TO-MOUTH RESUSCITATION

That's what Dennis was giving Mary in her kitchen when Kathy walked in: Mary's explanation to the family is not believed by Kathy or the rest of the Shumways, either. Mary sadly returns to her own house when Grandpa Larkin says he loves her but he can't believe it.

While Mary was being kissed by Dennis, she spoke of guilt, guilt, guilt every time she came up for air. Dennis tried his best to overcome her restrained with more kisses, which she was not eager to fend off. When he left, reiterating that fateful day - Thursday - Mary was beginning to wonder if her interference has done any good at all or it is has just caused more difficulties.

In a dream, Loretta tried to call God but received no answer: then she was in a closet and seemed to get a message that she hasn't been doing enough for religion, so when she awakens, she decides to join the Worldwide Missionary Center (which has an 8 year old leader) and spread the WORD from door-to-door. Charlie is not overly elated.

When Tom finds out about Mary and Dennis in the kitchen, he walks out of the house, to return many drinks later with his baseball cap askew.

A MARRIAGE IN TROUBLE AGAIN

He tells Mary that something is wrong between them, but he doesn't know what and he can't take it. When he had the affair with Mae he just did it; she wanted to kiss Dennis. Later, holding and comforting Tom, Mary calls him her sweet baby...Dennis.

Breakfast, next morning, is so tense that Mary is reduced to yelling out that breakfast should not be tense and Heather may not have platform shoes.

Martha goes to ask Dennis if he really kissed Mary in her kitchen because of his overflowing love for the Shumway family. When he calls her "Mother Shumway" she has all the answer she needs and is very relieved because now she wont' have to fight with Sears over the deposit she paid on the green chiffon dress for the wedding. She is gratefully giving Dennis a kiss when Kathy walks in and - not unnaturally for her - suspects the worst. Dennis is able to retrieve the situation and - as he later tells Mary - he doesn't say the wedding is on, he just doesn't say it is off. Mollified and extremely happy, Kathy even tells Mary that she is ready to bury the hatchet and Mary (sadly) agrees to bake an applesauce upside down cake WITH raising for the surprise shower Martha is giving for Kathy.

Mary goes to see Dennis at the station house to tell him she understands him now: he likes to play games with people. His reply and defense is that he doesn't want to hurt anybody, so he tells them the slow truth; by Thursday (that day again) they will have the whole truth.

TOM IN MORE HOT WATER

Tom gives the Ass't. D.A. the goods on the union fund. He gives Tom campaign gimmicks and a bill of goods. When Tom leaves, the politician calls the union chief and gives him the goods on Tom.

Betty McCullough, self-styled psychic and astrologer, is arrested for...soliciting...trade.

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When Bravo, a cable station started here in the mid 90s (it's completely unrelated to the US Bravo lol) they had a 2 hour block called "TV too good for TV" that had cult shows like Twin Peaks (which is how I first saw that)--that would end every night with Mary Hartman. I think I saw nearly every episode--brilliant, and oddly addicting stuff, though I'm not sure I'd buy and watch the whole set on DVD if they released it (maybe when I'm done with Peyton Place and Dark Shadows in 10 years time...). And they also showed the full Fernwood2night and the next Summer's America2Night. Brilliant stuff. I admit, I find a lot of Norman Lear's tv work heavy handed and not appealing--if I'm gonna watch a 70s sitcom give me the more urbane MTM Productions stuff like Mary Tyle Moore, Rhoda, etc than All in the Family or Jeffersons--although I do get how groundbreaking they were for their time. But I loved Mary Hartman. (Oh and Maude, though that's probably largely due to Bea...)

(And I have always wanted to see All That Glitters, though it sounds like people felt the gender role satire *was* too heavy handed there)

Louise is brilliant here.

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