It's always with a little sadness that I approach season 5 of this great show. One of the things I love about the early seasons of the show is the great friendship between Mary and Rhoda. And with Rhoda gone, I feel the show is missing a little something. Fortunately, the other cast members step it up and that feeling doesn't last for more than an episode or two.
The joy of a good ensemble comedy is the fact that you do have good strong characters to build upon. Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) is still living in her one room apartment next to neighbor Phyllis (Cloris Leachman, who only has four episodes this season). Her work life seems to overtake more of her personal life. For example, boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner) moves into Rhoda's old apartment at one point. Ted's (Ted Knight) girlfriend Georgette (Georgia Engel) stops by to visit on a more regular basis. Heck, even happy homemaker Sue Ann (Betty White) shows up quite a bit more. And good ole Murray (Gavin MacLeod) is by Mary's side every day at work.
As with the previous seasons, this show features some classic episodes. My favorite is "Not a Christmas Story," which finds the gang snowed in and mad at each other. Absolutely hilarious stuff. Lou turns into a softy after he throws Ted through a door. Murray struggles with his feelings about only having daughters. Mary gets a promotion to producer and tries to go it alone with the news. Sue Ann almost gets replaced by a much younger fan. Phyllis tries to find a job after a bad economy destroys the family budget. And in another favorite, Ted finally asks Georgette to marry him, in the middle of the 6 o'clock news.
Even when this show gets serious, like the season opener with finds Mary facing jail time for not revealing a source, it never forgets it is a comedy. There are plenty of laughs.
Of course, the writing and the acting are all top notch here. You couldn't ask for a better cast, and they truly bring these characters to life.
As other have noted, the big drawback to the set is the packaging itself. The shows are on 3 discs. They could look a little better, but I don't think they are any worse than the other seasons have been. We get no extras, but we didn't for the last two seasons. What is unforgivable is no episode guide. How can I find my favorite episode without it? True, I can look it up on line, but that's annoying. Additionally, they cut out the disclaimer voice over from "The System," one of my favorite bits from that episode.
So the set itself loses a star. But the episodes are still timeless and funny. Since this is probably the best we will ever get, if you are a fan, get this set. You will certainly enjoy the core content.