Cloris Leachman’s ‘Phyllis’ Pilot

If you watch the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff Phyllis, you notice two things right away: The lady who plays her mother-in-law, Jane Rose, is great, and there’s no way this show is going to be as good as The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show lasted for two years, but only on the strength of its scheduling, between Rhoda and All in the Family, but it suffered a stunning string of tragedies before ending for good. The woman who plays Phyllis’ new boss, Barbara Colby, was murdered in a random L.A. shooting two episodes into the show. Soon after, Judith Lowry, who played 86-year-old Mother Dexter, died, and just two months later, her 92-year-old on-screen boyfriend, Burt Mustin, died as well.

Incidentally, as you can see in this clip of the pilot, we never learn what Lars — one of the great unseen sitcom characters of all time — died of. Just that it was unexpected, and he left her no insurance money.