Season five of The Mary Tyler Moore Show gets under way with all but one of its familiar regular characters in attendance: Valerie Harper has departed the series in the role of Rhoda Morganstern to star in her own weekly spin-off, Rhoda. However, Harper and Mary Tyler Moore would be reunited in a "crossover" Rhoda episode telecast October 28, 1974, in which Rhoda is married to her boyfriend, Joe Gerard (David Groh). Otherwise, it is business as usual in Minneapolis, as Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) divides her time between her associate-producer duties in the WJM-TV newsroom and her home life in the apartment house owned by flighty Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman). Mary's grouchy boss, Lou Grant (Edward Asner), is still adjusting to his recent divorce; newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) continues to mask his neuroses with a smile and a wisecrack; the "humanization" of dimwitted, self-centered anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) carries on under the watchful and loving eye of his fiancée, Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel); and "Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens proves tireless in her efforts to sleep with every eligible man within a 50-mile radius.
Season five kicks off with the Emmy-winning "Will Mary Richards Go to Jail," in which wide-eyed Mary finds herself in the slammer with a pair of cynical "working girls" after she refuses to reveal a news source. Subsequent first-rate episodes include "You Sometimes Hurt the One You Hate," with a contrite Lou Grant bending over backward to patch things up with Ted Baxter after tossing him through his office doors over an on-the-air gaffe; "Lou and That Woman," featuring Sheree North as Lou's sometimes girlfriend, lounge singer Charlene Maguire; "The Outsider," guest-starring Richard Masur as WJM's new business consultant, who manages to get on the wrong side of everyone in the newsroom; "A New Sue Ann" (or "All About Eve in Minneapolis"), in which Sue Ann is hoodwinked into hiring a perky young assistant (Linda Kelsey) who is plotting to take over as the Happy Homemaker; "Mary Richards: Producer," Mary's annual blow struck on behalf of feminism; "Marriage Minneapolis Style," in which Ted finally pops the question to Georgette -- then begs his friends to help him break the engagement; and the deathless "Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcasters' School," which surely needs no synopsis. Arguably, the season's most interesting episode is "Phyllis Whips Inflation," which serves a the pilot for Cloris Leachman's own spin-off series, Phyllis. Ranking at number 11 in the 1974-1975 ratings, the fifth season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was also the first in which the program earned an Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Also earning Emmys were Betty White as Outstanding Supporting Actress and Cloris Leachman for Outstanding Single Performance. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi