When Mary learns that a veteran staff member of WJM-TV has not been able to spend Christmas with his family in years, she volunteers to take his shift on Christmas Eve. A mix of loneliness and isolation starts to drive Mary out of her mind. Even a phone call from Rhoda only increases her loneliness and jumpiness at every sound. When the sound of several people approaching makes her believe the station is about to be robbed, she learns to her relief that it is Lou, Murray, and Ted, come to cheer her up. They stay with her until midnight and exchange holiday hugs.
- The original "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid" was an episode of That Girl, also written by James Brooks, the writer and co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- This episode is the origin of the iconic scene from the opening credits wherein Mary hugs Lou, Murray, and Ted, crushing the latter's hat in the process.
The episode was made available on The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete First Season DVD set, released on April 6, 2010.
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