Long before Twin Peaks, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman turned the soap opera inside out. Produced by Norman Lear (All in the Family), the syndicated serial centers around gingham-clad housewife Mary Hartman (Woody Allen re...展开gular Louise Lasser). The saga begins with Mary agonizing over her floor's waxy yellow buildup when neighbor Loretta Haggers (Emmy winner Mary Kay Place) bursts in to announce that a mass murderer is on the loose in Fernwood. That isn't Mary's only problem. The magic has gone out of her marriage to Tom (Greg Mullavey) and her grandfather is revealed as the Fernwood Flasher. And that's just the pilot.
At first glance, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman resembles a daytime soap with consecutive airings (five nights a week), frame-filling close-ups, and syrupy score, but everything is off-kilter. When Mary isn't looking at other characters as if they're speaking in tongues, she appears to be on the verge of laughter or tears--maybe both at once. She's the ultimate desperate housewife. Aside from Grandpa Larkin (Victor Kilian), regulars include Mary’s preteen daughter Heather (Claudia Lamb), younger sister Cathy (Debralee Scott), and parents, Martha (Dody Goodman) and George Shumway (Philip Bruns). In addition, there's Sgt. Foley (Bruce Solomon), who has the hots for our sexually unsatisfied heroine, and Loretta's hubbie, Charlie (Graham Jarvis), who works with Tom and George at the plant. Mrs. Haggers, an aspiring country singer, loves her Baby Boy "more than a hundred billion frozen Milky Ways." The first set of this groundbreaking series features 25 episodes. Between 1976-1978, a whopping 325 were produced, some as Forever Fernwood when Lasser left in 1977, reportedly due to exhaustion. That year, the series also spun off talk-show satire Fernwood 2Nite, which would soon develop a cult following of its own.