The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Season 2 Episode 9

And Now, Sitting in for Ted Baxter

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Nov 13, 1971 on CBS

Episode Recap

In the newsroom Lou walks in and complains to Mary about their ratings being on the bottom as usual. Mary gets a phone call from the management in charge of Ted's contract, and learns that Ted has an excessive amount of vacation built up and is now required to take some of it.

When Mary confronts Ted about the vacation, he is extremely evasive. Puzzled, Mary goes to Lou to talk to him about Ted's behavior and unwillingness to discuss vacation time, and Lou points out why Ted would be worried about taking time off: it would mean another anchorman taking his place at the station, and an opportunity for ratings to improve while Ted was gone.

Mary follows Ted into his dressing room and eventually is able to convince him to take the vacation. She assures him that everything will turn out alright, and that there's nothing for him to fear.

As candidates are interviewed to be substitute news anchors, Ted is relieved to see the difficulty Lou is having in finding the right fit. Just as Lou is sending another would-be anchorman on his way, in walks a handsome, tall, smooth-talking gentleman who is eying the substitute position. Ted sees him and shudders in fear. Lou hires the guy on the spot.

Later, Rhoda comes over to Mary's apartment and gushes about the gorgeous new anchor working for WJM News. She is horribly disappointed to learn that he is happily married. All Mary can think about, on the other hand, is Ted.

Lou is ecstatic because WJM is number two in the ratings, and in such a short amount of time from having been at the bottom. Fan mail and rave reviews flood the newsroom regarding Rod Porter, the substitute anchorman. There is only one letter decrying Rod and wishing to see Ted Baxter come back. At the same time, Mary picks up a postcard from Ted, sending his greetings from Acapulco. She realizes, however, that the plain postcard is postmarked Minneapolis, and that Ted has never left town. She and Murray also conclude that the lone letter opposing Rod as anchorman is also actually from Ted. Mary frets that Mr. Grant will hire Rod permanently based on the ratings, and Murray shares his anxiety over this as well. They both admit that despite Rod's smoothness and amiability, they don't like him nearly as much as they like Ted.

When Ted returns from his vacation he is devastated to hear Rod thank him for his "big break" in being able to substitute for him. Rod has been offered a permanent a national news affiliate out of New York City. Everyone is relieved and overjoyed, with the exception, perhaps, of Lou Grant.