2007 Sony release (25 episodes only)

Here's a collection of links to reviews of the 2007 Sony release, which contained only the first 25 episodes and no bonus features. Although the Sony set has been rendered completely obsolete by the 2013 Shout! Factory complete series DVD set, these reviews are still (sometimes) worth reading for their commentary on the series itself.

Note: the often very negative opinions expressed in these reviews do not reflect in any way the opinions of the authors of this blog, or for that matter, reality. Shame on (some of) them. Due to the extreme worthlessness of some of these articles, I've listed them in order of descending usefulness.

For reviews of the 2013 Shout! Factory complete series DVD set, click here.

Probably the best review I've found, not just because it's positive, but because it explores well beyond the surface-level entertainment value of the series.

Of all the groundbreaking shows Norman Lear developed during the 1970s, none were stranger or more gradually rewarding than the comically abstruse Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Playing like a simultaneously mundane and demented combination of Proctor & Gamble masterpiece theater and trendsetting deadpan snark filtered through a cracked interpretation of The Feminine Mystique, MHMH is a marvel of deliberately amateur affectations and blindsiding camp.

The show's direction was as deliberately shitty as its writing was unexpectedly sharp. . . But the show belongs to Lasser, and its episodes are as alternately hysterical and inscrutable as her tragically inadequate role as the family matriarch.

A well written and insightful review from DVD Talk, which is to expected, as "well written and insightful" is DVDTalk's usual standard.

When the viewer becomes acclimated to the bizarre nature of the show after the first few episodes, a disquieting seriousness starts to creep in between the marvelously skewed one-liners and the purposefully outlandish and comedic melodramatics. Real emotions and feelings begin to come out of the seemingly broad, cartoonish characters. . . Couple that with the totally unpredictable nature of the show, and the rather startling, realistic performances (in-between the obvious mugging), and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman can, at times, be a very unsettling, creepy viewing experience.

If the first season or volume isn't sold in sufficient quantities, the studio won't bring out the rest of the show. I can see the logic in that, but I'm not going to recommend anyone spend money on the first of what could be well over ten volumes.

One of the most brilliant, disturbing, and hilarious TV shows of the 1970s -- or today, for that matter. It's endlessly fascinating, with something serious to say about America, television, feminism, consumerism, sexual politics, and waxy yellow build-up on kitchen floors.

EW Capsule review which surprises by actually containing an insight or two.

Mary Hartman is a precursor to that other monument to poker-faced absurdism: David Lynch's Twin Peaks. The series remains a brilliant, daring idea, but seen now, with its cold, affectless approach to middle-American anomie, Mary is so despairing a TV show, it doesn't wow you so much as it gives you the creeps.

User review from home theater forum HomeTheaterShack. It's essentially negative, but it's also well-reasoned and gives the show the in depth coverage it deserves. I have nothing against negative reviews if they're as well written as this.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" Volume 1 is going to be a tough sell for anyone under 50. It's one of those shows where you 'had to be there' to appreciate. I'm not sure it holds up for modern audiences nor will it acquire new fans.

The shows were cheesy and cheap looking. Tacky sets with flat lighting. Lots of flubs by the actors who would miss a line then pick it up and say it again. Obviously shot quickly and off the cuff but that was part of the fun. . . Unfortunately, other than those watching it nostalgically like me (bringing me back to my college days), [the episodes] really haven't aged well.

A fair-minded review by a yahoo user, although one that focuses almost exclusively on the issue of MH2's no longer "controversial" topics.

A lot of the then shocking topics of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman seem somewhat tame now in comparison, however as with any good television show, characters matter most.

Probably the most entertaining thing about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - with tongue planted firmly in cheek - its writers delved into emotionally vulnerable areas and actors never indulged caricatured performances.

While Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman's comedy vibe or slow serialized format isn't for everyone; it remains one of the more original television programs of the 1970's.

Dual review of MH2 and The Addams Family from something called The L Magazine. I guess they came out on DVD around the same time, but that seems faint justification for combining these two series in one review. . . In any event, it's a fairly balanced, if short, review.

Louise Lasser (once Woody Allen’s muse) stars as a put-upon pre-feminist housewife who repeats the secular liturgy of American consumerism in an attempt to stave off a nervous breakdown. Even when the show fails, it gives the glimpse into a parallel universe of American entertainment.

Mary Hartman’s brilliance is in exposing the fraudulence of this middle-American sanity, preoccupied as it is with its waxy yellow floor wax buildup and drip coffee-makers. A year later, Mary Hartman’s faux- soap opera format would be co-opted by Soap, which softened the edges of the satire and became a success.

The often great Onion AV Club gets it wrong here. It's worth glancing at this dual review of MH2 and Maude if only for the laugh when you see that Maude gets an A, MH2 a B+. Within Norman Lear's empire of 1970s sitcoms, I will always love All in the Family and MH2, but I find Maude all but unwatchable today. Despite Maude's obsession with tackling every controversial topic it could get onto network TV, it was mostly just silly, with a dollop of heavy-handed drama thrown in at end of the episode. Worst of all, Bea Arthur's performance consists primarily of yelling and screaming her way from one extreme of hysterical overreaction to the next every 15 seconds. I find it exhausting to watch. [Note: totally uncalled-for Maude rant over.]

With two hours a week to fill, individual episodes move slowly, spending as much time on aimless conversations about country music and impotence as on a master-plot. Veteran soap writer Ann Marcus maintains some genre authenticity, but the stoner rhythms and low-rent production design push the style closer to suburban surrealism, as does the foggy performance of star Louise Lasser.

Fairly worthless review from a guy who clearly is not on the same wavelength as the series at all. It's one thing to prefer Soap, it's quite another to wish that MH2 was Soap!

If you can survive the dreadful (make that, dead full) pacing, there are a few scattered laughs. But the fact that they are so scattered isn't much of an endorsement for this series. The most engaging moments come from watching the Haggers.

A wish-washy, short and pedestrian review by a critic who just doesn't get it.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was better on TV than it is on DVD. The constant repetition of plot points and recaps makes watching multiple episodes an aggravating experience. On the other hand, if you're a fan of sitcoms or soaps, you'll probably get a kick out of this experiment in satire. You certainly have to give them all credit for turning out a product that was so completely different from anything else on TV at the time.