Mary's back, and for at least half an hour all's right with the world of series television. Mary Tyler Moore is the Mary we're talking about, the star of ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show,'' which dominated network series TV from 1970 to 1977 and still dominates syndicated reruns today. Mary (CBS, Wednesdays, starting Dec. 11, 8-8:30 p.m.) is her new show.
Despite the fact that she is playing a slightly different Mary, it is still the Mary Tyler Moore character everybody loves -- a strong yet vulnerable, intelligent, honest, industrious human being optimistically struggling to make her way in a world populated with people who make her life difficult but not impossible.
In the case of the new Mary, Brenner by name, she is a divorc'ee, forced to look for another job when her women's magazine position disappears in a corporate shuffle. She ends up at a slightly sleazy Chicago tabloid, starting a help-line column for what may or may not be a romantically inclined managing editor (or is it just a test of her toughness?).
There's a whole cast of hilarious characters around the news room for her to contend with: a pompous theater critic, a myopic copy editor, an acerbic society columnist. But the greatest difficulty comes in deciding whom to help first -- the madman who murdered his cable repair man because he couldn't provide good reception, or the man who thinks his neighbor is a werewolf?
Executive producers of the series are Ken Levine and David Isaacs, who also created and wrote this premi`ere episode. It's hard to judge any series on its initial outing, but with MTM Productions behind it and MTM herself starring, how wrong can it get?
Based upon Miss Moore's record, chances are the series will deal with the problems of single working women with sensitivity, intelligence, and humor. Certainly the quiet, laid-back yet wacky uniqueness of Episode 1 is a harbinger of good Mary times to come. Foley Square
Margaret Colin is playing a Mary Tyler Moore type, 10 years younger.
In ``Foley Square'' (CBS, Wednesdays, 8:30-9 p.m.) she is Assistant District Attorney Alex Harrigan of New York City, unmarried, secure in her job but facing a familiar predicament of New York career women -- few acceptable men.
Assistant DA Harrigan succumbs to the urging of her colleagues and confidantes and, despite the warnings of her boss, places an advertisement in the personals columns of New York Magazine. She is overwhelmed with responses, and the premi`ere segment of the series focuses on the young man she chooses to meet.
The first episode, created and produced by Diane English, was written by executive producers Saul Turtletaub and Bernie Orenstein. There are hints that the main focus of the series will not be Alex's search for proper dates as much as Alex's attempt to do her job with a certain amount of humility and compassion.
Margaret Colin makes a charming DA and manages the role with easy vivacity. The problem for the series is that it is scheduled to follow ``Mary'' and is so similar in basic characterizations that it could easily have been ``Mary,'' give or take a few years.
Both shows debut with just a bit too much focus on catching a male, but I suppose it is true that a fair portion of the life of any unattached person in a big city -- male or female -- consists of trying to make the right people connection. It is to be hoped, however, that both new shows will avoid the pitfall of concentrating solely on the dating game.
In any event, Mary and Alex are welcome additions to the CBS lineup of 1980s women.