Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
I started watching this previously and actually reached the end of the first season (150-something), but since it's been so long I decided to just start from scratch. One thing that I noticed is that I remember having a lot of problem getting "into" the humour and it took me maybe twenty episodes until it finally clicked, but re-watching those episodes they are funnier now that I "get it". I'm at the point where Mary's taken hostage by the Fernwood Slasher (not to be confused with the Fernwood Flasher). It's such a unique concept in that it works as a comedy and as a soap opera - the fact that they managed to produce this as a daily show is amazing.

I very much doubt there'll be another show like this again.

 

Jimmy Todd

Telly Talk Addict
Messages
1,075
Reaction score
967
Location
United States
Member Since
2019
I started watching this previously and actually reached the end of the first season (150-something), but since it's been so long I decided to just start from scratch. One thing that I noticed is that I remember having a lot of problem getting "into" the humour and it took me maybe twenty episodes until it finally clicked, but re-watching those episodes they are funnier now that I "get it". I'm at the point where Mary's taken hostage by the Fernwood Slasher (not to be confused with the Fernwood Flasher). It's such a unique concept in that it works as a comedy and as a soap opera - the fact that they managed to produce this as a daily show is amazing.

I very much doubt there'll be another show like this again.

I'm curious as to how you would describe the humor. I haven't seen that show in over 30 years, and even then, just a couple of episode. Your post has me intrigued.
 

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
I'm curious as to how you would describe the humor. I haven't seen that show in over 30 years, and even then, just a couple of episode. Your post has me intrigued.
I'm not really sure - I guess more subtle in a way that it doesn't get enough credit for. A lot of if of course comes from Mary being plain neurotic. It's also interesting to watch what essentially is a comedy but without a laugh-track in an era when all comedies had laugh-tracks.
 

Jimmy Todd

Telly Talk Addict
Messages
1,075
Reaction score
967
Location
United States
Member Since
2019
I'm not really sure - I guess more subtle in a way that it doesn't get enough credit for. A lot of if of course comes from Mary being plain neurotic. It's also interesting to watch what essentially is a comedy but without a laugh-track in an era when all comedies had laugh-tracks.
Thanks. I'm going to take a look at this show.
I believe it was a Norman Lear show.
I do recall when it was spoofed on The Carol Burnett Show- hilarious:lolling:
 

Daniel Avery

Super Moderator
Staff Member
Messages
4,074
Reaction score
4,059
Location
Sunny South Florida
Medals
4
Member Since
June 10, 2000
I tried to get into it when it went into reruns, but I think I was too young to appreciate it. It just seemed...weird, even back then when it was more topical.

Like you say, it's a parody of daytime soaps, so it has a soap format but going for laughs. Viewers unaccustomed to experimental projects like this likely felt uncomfortable at home since the laugh track was typically giving the cue (permission) to laugh at things that were not simple comedy like jokes or physical humor. This show is a parody already, so it was just begging for the Carol Burnett treatment.

They take issues of that time, the important and the frivolous, and mine them for laughs but do it in a melodramatic way that makes it difficult for the casual viewer to know the difference. Mary's concern about the waxy build-up on her kitchen floor, for example, is a commentary on how consumer culture creates issues (or crises, if you take it too seriously) for average people like Mary, making her anxious or depressed simply because someone on TV keeps telling her she's a failure if she doesn't keep that waxy build-up at bay by buying X product. People in this day and age have no idea what waxy build-up is, so the whole bit falls flat but in its time it was a brilliant observation.

I vaguely remember Louise Lasser's stormy departure from the series, but it may have been because of the intense stuff she had to play every day. They never really did let up on ol' Mary, but that was part of the parody--old radio soaps like The Perils of Pauline never allowed their heroines one moment of happiness.
 

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
Like you say, it's a parody of daytime soaps, so it has a soap format but going for laughs. Viewers unaccustomed to experimental projects like this likely felt uncomfortable at home since the laugh track was typically giving the cue (permission) to laugh at things that were not simple comedy like jokes or physical humor. This show is a parody already, so it was just begging for the Carol Burnett treatment.
You're right that it comes across as very experimental, even today and the absurdity of some things probably becomes across as even more absurd now. It's definitively a show that wasn't "instant" for me to fully get right away and I had to live with the characters, particularly Mary's neurosis for a while. One of the conversations that Loretta and Mary had about Heather's training bra being too big probably came across as crude back then ("Isn't this too big?" "Oh, I like her to know that I have faith in her") and maybe even more so today. I at least can't imagine someone pulling a joke essentially hoping that their tween daughter grows a large chest today.
 

Daniel Avery

Super Moderator
Staff Member
Messages
4,074
Reaction score
4,059
Location
Sunny South Florida
Medals
4
Member Since
June 10, 2000
I recall how homely Heather Hartman was, which was counter to the "soap kids are always adorable" trope. Whether they made her look bad on purpose or she was just not very attractive, I don't recall. She looks pretty good in the photo above, but I recall a much worse version...maybe later in the series when she became a pothead. :)
 
Last edited:

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
How are you watching this, tommie? DVD, streaming?
It was released on DVD by Shout! Factory.

At least 205 episodes are on YouTube if you don't feel like trying to invest in it as I'm not sure it's still in stock:
 

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
I recall how homely Heather Hartman was, which was counter to the "soap kids are always adorable" trope. Whether they made her look bad on purpose or she was just not very attractive, I don't recall. She looks pretty good in the photo above, but I recall a much worse version...maybe later in the series when she became a pothead. :)
She definitively looks more adorable in the above picture than on the show - maybe it was taken before they shot anything and Heather'd her up? On the show she has big glasses and is often seen eating tonnes of junk food.
 

Seaviewer

Telly Talk Enthusiast
Messages
2,470
Reaction score
3,160
Location
Australia
Medals
3
Member Since
14 September 2001
I remember watching this but I don't think it was on every day here. I think it was on at night. Maybe weekly? I don't think it lasted more than a few episodes. Then Soap came along with much the same idea but with broader appeal.
 

Daniel Avery

Super Moderator
Staff Member
Messages
4,074
Reaction score
4,059
Location
Sunny South Florida
Medals
4
Member Since
June 10, 2000
Yes, I think Norman Lear produced the show to be aired in early-prime (like 7pm or so) rather than daytime or primetime. It certainly does not seem appropriate for early-afternoon, which was where it mostly ended up when the reruns were sold into syndication. I recall my local station put it on at 4pm right after Guiding Light, which was quite a difference--kind of like going from Little House on the Prairie to True Blood.
 

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
"When a man gives you a choice between selling a song and raping ya', you pick selling a song."

The absolute absurdity of Loretta and Charlie's trip to Nashville ending with them crashing with a station wagon full of nuns, which isn't a sin by the way since they're not Catholic :floor:

Did the Mary Hartman Mary Hartman thread really have to be tagged with Mary Hartman Mary Hartman?
Yes, it completes the neurosis.
 
Last edited:

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
"I can't believe it... Loretta's never gonna walk again... Tom... and May... and Mary all have venereal disease, not to mention Frank Garth who I don't even know. And we don't have any calmatives in the house! It's beginning to sound like a soap opera..."
 

tommie

Telly Talk Winner
Messages
3,590
Reaction score
1,910
Location
Sweden
Medals
1
Member Since
I dunno
Episode 36 is a recap episode that features the Fernwood's trashman recapping up the plots of the episodes. I guess at this point they would've entered their 8th week on air and felt to catch up viewers.
 
Top