‘Chuckles Bites The Dust’ Was Mary Tyler Moore’s Finest Moment
Not enough credit is given to Mary Tyler Moore, who passed away today at the age of 80 having suffered from diabetes and a number of other ailments. Moore basically kicked off the modern age of television with her portrayal of Mary Richards in the Mary Tyler Moore Show -- a single woman on her own trying to make it as the associate producer at a TV news station in Minneapolis.
Does she get her rightful due as a comedic actor? In case you let her career slide by because you don't have cable and you're way too young, just YouTube the Oct. 25, 1975 episode Chuckles Bites the Dust. This is the gold standard for TV writing, showing that sitcom TV doesn't have to be a soul-sucking time-waster.
The episode, written by David Lloyd, was voted No. 1 and 3 in 1997 and 2009, respectively, in TV Guide's 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time. It somehow managed to make death funny, and like Moore herself, broke barriers and left us all a little richer for having experienced it. Mostly it was just funny, and holds up well.
Chuckles the Clown, a seldom-seen recurring character, was the grand marshal at a parade -- where dressed as Peter Peanut "a rogue elephant tried to shell him." The WJM-TV staff spends the day making jokes, of course ("They were lucky more people weren't hurt." "Yeah. After all, you know how hard it is to stop at just one peanut."). Mary is horrified, admonishing everyone for making light of a man's death.
But at the funeral, things take a turn:
Also includes one of my favorite TV lines, by Lou Grant (Ed Asner): "When I go, I just wanna be stood outside in the garbage with my hat on."
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