Mary and Rhoda is a 2000 made-for-television movie that reunited Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper as Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern from the 1970 1977 sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Although the film is a spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns were uncredited for creating the characters; neither they nor any other writers or producers from the original series were involved with this reunion film.
It was the only film of any kind to be based on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the first production to be set in the show's "universe" in 18 years since the series finale of Lou Grant in 1982. Mary and Rhoda was written by Katie Ford, executive produced by Mary Tyler Moore and Susan B. Landau, and directed by Barnet Kellman.
During the opening sequence, the original 1970 version of the "Love Is All Around" theme song is played and then changes to the 1996 version recorded by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.
Mary Richards-Cronin returns to New York City after spending four months in Europe following the death of her Congressman husband Steven Cronin in a rock climbing accident. Rhoda Morgenstern-Rousseau also returns to her native New York to make a fresh start as a photographer after living in Paris where she has just recently left and divorced her second husband, Jean-Pierre Rousseau.
Now, both single and with college-age daughters Mary's Rose is a student at New York University and Rhoda's Meredith is pre-med at Barnard College the old friends face the challenges of motherhood while re-establishing their friendship and new careers in a very difficult time.
Viewer reaction and reception
The film's producers intentionally tried to make the characters "current", and as a result, little time was spent with the characters discussing their former life in Minneapolis. This disappointed a number of longtime fans, as did the fact that former Mary Tyler Moore Show characters Lou Grant, Ted Baxter, Murray Slaughter, Phyllis Lindstrom, Georgette Baxter and Sue Ann Nivens were never directly referred to, nor were Rhoda's sister Brenda Morgenstern or her father, Martin Morgenstern. The only character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda to be mentioned was Ida Morgenstern, Rhoda's mother, though not by her name.
Anticipating strong viewer interest, ABC scheduled the movie to air during February sweeps and considered it a pilot for a weekly series. The program attracted 17.8 million viewers, beating out its main competition, CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond, but critical reaction was so adverse ABC decided to abandon the project.
Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper announced in November 1997 that they had signed with ABC to reprise their roles as Mary and Rhoda in a new sitcom slated for the fall of 1998. ABC had ordered 13 episodes for the new show which featured Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern as widows reunited by chance in New York after many years of estrangement, who each have a 20-something daughter named after the other (Mary's daughter is Rhoda Richards and Rhoda's daughter is Mary Morgenstern).
According to reports, ABC executives were not pleased with the pilot episode and the proposed sitcom was scrapped altogether. By 1999, it was confirmed that Moore and Harper would reunite instead in the two-hour made-for-TV movie Mary and Rhoda which began filming on October 18, 1999.
Mary and Rhoda was released on DVD in Region 1 on April 20, 2004 by Studio Works Entertainment.