About this Blog

Scraping the waxy yellow buildup off the reputation of TV's most unjustly neglected classic. . .

This blog would never have been possible without the good work of the folks at Shout! Factory, who continue to rescue one classic television series after another from oblivion. Their latest rescue, of course, was the November 2013 release of a DVD set of the complete MH2, which has finally given me the chance to see this series I've sought for so long.

You see, I was but a kid when MH2 debuted, and never even knew of it existence until years after the series ended. I came to the series backwards in a manner of speaking, in that I was first a huge fan of the sitcom Soap, which debuted about a year and half after MH2. I was such a huge Soap fan, in fact, that when I encountered books or articles making the obvious comparisons between the two shows, I was immediately intrigued by this mysterious MH2. Everything I read told me that MH2 made Soap look like kid's stuff, which is hard to imagine if you know what subjects Soap tackled. But MH2 was by all accounts the true soap opera spoof, the one that knew how to play it just straight enough to hit the jugular vein of this cliche-ridden genre (which, to be fair, Soap never really set out to do). MH2 was (according to what I'd read) uncompromising, unique, funny, harrowing, controversial, ground breaking and wildly popular.

And yet, it never really came back into reruns (at least, not for very long). I could never understand it. The cast had a number of soon-to-be or already famous stars, and the show was a huge success in its time, an icon of 1970s television despite the obstacle of being one of the earliest shows to air in first-run syndication (no network would touch it, not even with super-producer Norman Lear's backing). Soap flourished in reruns-- why hadn't MH2? Flash forward to 2007, when Sony decided to tease us all with a miserably limited DVD set containing only the first 25 episodes, representing less than 10% of the series. At least this gave me a chance to see a chunk of episodes for the first time. I was completely won over before I'd finished watching the first show. I mainlined all 25 episodes in a weekend, then spent the next 6 years whining occasionally to friends that I'd never get the chance to see the whole series, because clearly a company with Sony's track record of abandoning their DVD properties would never release more volumes.

Then came the shocking miracle of 2013: Shout! Factory announced a complete DVD set of all 325 episodes, plus (as usual for them) a healthy roundup of bonus features. Despite my financial circumstances being such that buying a latte is currently a matter of serious consideration, I leaped at the chance to spend a couple hundred bucks I can't spare to order the set directly from the Shout! Factory site, which entitled me to receive it a month early. I've spent that month working my way through the set, with ever increasing admiration for the series, as well as ever increasing confusion over how anything so clearly so great could have remained so impossible to see for so long.

Which brings me to this, my first leap into the blogosphere, hoping to share my enthusiasm for a staggering work of pop culture art with other folks who, like me, have waited a couple of generations to see this series. The format of episode posts will probably morph a bit before I settle into what works best, but my plan is this: Every weekday, a new episode will be written up, with a short, spoiler-free summary, and a longer section to provide a review/commentary (either solo or in dialogue with the other contributors I hope will be joining in.) The posts will undoubtedly start off a lot longer than they will become, because at first there's so much new ground to cover. Later, I'm sure there will be more to say about some episodes than others, but they're all worth a closer look.

Please jump in and join the discussion in the comments section-- I'm really looking forward to reading other folks' thoughts! In addition, this blog will attempt to fill in a lot of additional information about the series along the way, with pages dedicated to the cast and crew members, collections of articles and reviews, and possibly occasional original essays or news items. Having been out of the limelight for so many years, MH2 doesn't have much a presence on the internet: No episode guides, no fan-created web sites, even the imdb pages for the show are woefully incomplete. It's my hope that this blog will become a go-to site for information and discussion of this incredible series, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.


Here is a list of some pretty major recurring characters I didn't see included in the Cast/Characters section...

Sam the Bartender at the Capri Lounge

Mona McKenzie the Surrogate Sex Therapist 

Chief of Police Texas

Vernon Bales (Head of the GGG and Manager of the Plant)

Mac Slattery the Truck Driver and Wrestler

Tiny (Factory Line Worker at the Plant)

Dewey the Janitor

Barbie (Grandpa's Girlfriend)

Detective HV Johnson

Chief Twelve Trees

Jody (Charlie's friend)

Howie (Cathy's boyfriend)

Ed McCullough

Howard McCullough

Betty McCullough

Nat Dearborn

Garth "Philip" Gimball Jr.

Standing Cow

Cynthia Zeiden

#1 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Fan

Thanks very much, zeidenmedia.  

Just to clarify, the cast/crew list is far, far, FAR from complete at this point.  I just haven't had the time to update it to add too many people who haven't yet been in the episodes I've written reviews for.  A couple of folks have very kindly offered their help on this, since they've been keeping their own notes on the cast and crew as they watch the shows themselves.  I may be able to update the cast/crew info when they're ready to turn it over to me.  There's also nothing written for these pages, just a photo, an episode list, and links to the imdb and wikipedia page for each person.  My intention is to add something interesting about the actor, and a description of the character.  But for now, I think I need to focus on getting the reviews up.  

That's not to say I don't get very, very easily distracted.  wink

Very glad to see a new person commenting-- welcome!!!

Svetlana was interesting too...

Cynthia Zeiden

#1 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Fan

Hello WGaryW and series fans --

I have been fascinated with this series after catching a dozen episodes of the Lifetime run in 1990, when I was a teenager. Now that Shout! Factory has released the entire series on DVD -- something I thought would never happen -- I have been slowly but blissfully extending my stay in Fernwood. Thank you very much for creating a site that promises commentary and information on cast and episodes.

WGaryW, would you mind emailing me to talk further? I might have a resource or two that you could use on the site to share with other fans. I'm assuming the moderator has access to member email addresses, but if not, let me know. All best wishes with the site and I look forward to checking back often!