Weekend Viewing: "Mary Midwife"

Here’s an episode from one of those seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that isn’t on DVD and which the Oprah audience therefore won’t get to see: the season 7 premiere, “Mary Midwife,” written by the show’s best and most prolific writer, David Lloyd , where Georgette goes into labour with Ted’s baby. Of course she goes into labour at Mary’s apartment; does anybody ever have a baby at the hospital?

Lloyd specialized in the long exchanges between Mary and Lou in Lou’s office; nobody wrote those scenes better than he did. These scenes were the heart of the entire show, ever since the first episode (the “you’ve got spunk” scene), and as the years went on they got longer and funnier. They’re a good example of how the longer running times of yesteryear were a benefit to sitcoms, at least the ones that knew how to take advantage of them: today, a scene like this would never be able to last four minutes, and it would be cut down to be just long enough to make its point. That’s not what makes it good. What makes it good is that Lou, as always, keeps the discussion going long after the point has been made. That’s funny.

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