Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History #4: Love Is All Around

Is there a more iconic opening sequence than the beginning of The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

OK, maybe there is, but is there one more flat-out adorable?

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong details the creation of this classic show opener. Co-creators Jimmy Brooks (OK, that's James L. Brooks to me) and Allen Burns hired an Iranian director, Rexa Badiyi, to handle it.  After directing documentary films in Iran, Badiyi emigrated to the USA and got into television. Other shows he directed opening credit sequences for: Hawaii Five-0 and Get Smart.

Does this guy know how to make a title segment or what?

Later, he directed episodes of BOTNS subjects like The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man, plus many other possible future podcast subjects.

Badiyi was responsible for the concept as well as the visuals, and it was he who thought of the climactic hat toss. Armstrong writes that the beret was meant to symbolize rebellion and "girlish dreams of European sophistication." It wasn't a contrived move, though; the beret was one Moore happened to bring with her.

The weather was freezing cold--hey, it was Minneapolis in February--when Badiyi told Moore to run out in traffic and toss her hat with glee. As Armstrong says, the raw footage didn't stand out to anyone, but edited together with the final freeze frame, it was gold. Burns told the director, "You son of a bitch. You made this work."

In season 2, the opening would change somewhat--the lyrics to Sonny Curtis' theme song were modified, and Mary Tyler Moore ditched the fur coat after getting involved in animal rights--but the essential spirit of the fantastic sequence remained throughout the series' run and is one of the reasons the show is still famous.

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