Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dick Van Dyke at his very best

When I was a kid growing up the sitcom that influenced me the most was THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. I wanted to be a comedy writer after seeing how much fun they all had on that show. Aw, who am I kidding? I wanted Laura Petrie. But comedy writing did seem like a cool profession.

People think of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW as a sophisticated comedy and it certainly was. But the show also featured plenty of inspired slapstick. For all his many gifts, Dick Van Dyke is a truly brilliant physical comedian. And Mary Tyler Moore ain't bad either.

Here's a montage from "THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW REMEMBERED" that aired in 1994. You'll marvel at this.

34 comments:

Jim said...

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing! What a way to wake up on a Saturday! :)

dgwPhotography said...

This is just great stuff!

The way Laura slides out of the closet and the look she gives him at 1:35 says it all....

Tom Quigley said...

One of the other great elements of Dick Van Dyke's talent (which I guess would also come under the heading of physical comedy) was his incredible range of facial expressions and reactions. I think the only rivals he may have had in that department were Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Danny Kaye, all (not surprisingly) great physical comedians themselves.

iain said...

Absolutely brilliant. Sadly, there may be more people who know him for "Dianosis Murder" these days.

Mr. Hollywood said...

Beautifully edited montage of brilliant comedy! I have every Dick Van Dyke Show episode on DVD ... really puts the work of today's so-called sitcoms to shame.
Also loved Mary on that show, until I met and interviewed her many years later ... talk about bursting a bubble. Very cold and humorless ...

thomas tucker said...

Best show EVER!
But I know people who have met Mr. van Dyke and he was very friendly and warm.
Perhaps Mrs. Moore didn't feel well- she has had many health problems.

Michael said...

When I was a kid, this was the first "adult" TV show I really remember, and it remains, with MASH, my favorite. A lot of people don't notice how sophisticated it actually is without being snooty, and how basic it is without talking down to us.

Van Dyke told a great story of the night he imitated his idol, Stan Laurel--indeed, he told it during his eulogy for Laurel. When the show ended he called and asked what he thought of it. Laurel said, "Oh, it was just fine, Dickie." Then he spent more than half an hour picking it apart down to the most minute detail. First, it shows what a genius Laurel was. Second, it shows how dedicated a pro Dick Van Dyke was and is.

Reiner and Van Dyke also have pointed out that when the show started, Mary Tyler Moore was totally new to doing comedy, and here she was with true old pros ... and she proved to be brilliant at it.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

I haven't seen a DVD re-run in years. God, when you look at the crap that's on the syndication channels, without naming names like Roseanne, The Nanny, or George Lopez, it's amazing that no one's running these. I'm gonna have to look around the internets to find the space walnuts episode some time today.

As I recall, the show was supposed to be office-focused, with just a few domestic scenes, till Carl Reiner noticed that MTM had real comedy chops. And CR as Alan Brady was one of the great recurring characters

Gary said...

Great stuff, truly enjoyable. And that Millie, what a knock-out! Hulu is still showing it, starting w/season 1.

Roger Owen Green said...

the ONLY TV show I own the complete series of on DVD.

tb said...

great stuff indeed!

Mike McCann said...

Sheer brilliance. Possibly the only sitcom ever with absolutely no weak links in the cast.

jbryant said...

Hard to think of a better show. I mostly caught it in afternoon reruns, where it really stood out amid Gilligan and the Bradys (though at the time my siblings and I watched them all religiously). I suspect I saw every episodes, but it's been a while, so I'm tempted to spend the day over at Hulu.

Anonymous said...

"I wanted Laura Petrie."

Oh, the irony. A major case of "Be Careful What You Wish For."

I remember Eddie Izzard's comment in his act about Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins: "What is he supposed to be, Australian?"

How many remember his season (I think it was just one) when he replaced Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Show?

Great cast, great writing, what center of gravity drew all that greatness together?

The genius that is Carl Reiner.

D. McEwan said...

Oops. Wrong button. The "anonymous" comment just above was by me.

Pat Reeder said...

Both my wife and grew up in different parts of North Texas, watching reruns of "Dick Van Dyke" on Channel 11, and it was probably the most formative influence on our lives. It not only made us both want to grow up and be comedy writers, but I wanted to marry a hot chick named Laura (and I did), and she wanted to marry a tall, clumsy comedy writer (mission accomplished). And I'll bet nobody on this board took their fandom to this extreme: during a period when we had to move to the Northeast to work, we made it a point to base out of New Rochelle, just so we could have that return address.

VW: "fooll" - How perfect is that?

Brian Phillips said...

The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the few shows that I loved as a child and still do as an adult. It's so rare to have people that are multi-talented. This show featured four people with great comic timing, that all did good-to-great physical comedy and all of them had musical ability AND had such marvelous chemistry. The last part is key, because I have seen any number of shows that have talent to burn, but the cast and/or writing doesn't gel.

Three people that I can think of that are triple-threats (timing, physicality and musical ability) are Tracey Ullman, David Hyde-Pierce and Kelsey Grammer (who I feel not enough is said about his physical humor). Of course there are many more.

To D. McEwan (or Anonymous, if THAT is your real name!): I actually do recall DVD on the CBS. One of their extended spoofs was, "Fran Sancisco", he portrayed Lee Majors to Burnett's Farrah-Fawcett Majors ("Freeze!") and he also did a send-up of Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain". The most perplexing to an East Coast boy was watching a Cal Worthington parody.

To Michael: One of the things that Stan Laurel had said to Van Dyke was that the hat that he used wasn't right and had he called him, he would have gladly lent it to him!

One more thing about the show is that while you get the occasional dated attitude or line, the sophistication of the dialogue still knocks me out. Case in point, when Rob visits Lyle Delp (Don Rickles) in jail, Delp lightly refers to an incident in prison. When Rob asks if it was a riot, Delp replies that it wasn't a riot, it was, "...a difference of opinion. With injuries."

Michael said...

And now I remember....that's what I thought being a grownup was going to be like.

And now, at age 54, I can, with hindight and maturity, say.....

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

Larry said...

I think Dick Van Dyke's performance on this show was the greatest all-around work ever on TV. That's because he did everything, and did it well. Smart, sophisticated comedy. Slaptstick. Pantomime. Singing. Dancing. Even romance and straight drama, when called for.

As I'm sure most of you know, Carl Reiner created the show and was originally set to star in it. Anyone who's seen the original piot with Reiner (and this includes Reiner) recognizes the show would never have made it without Van Dyke.

Rich said...

SO love this show! I only saw re-runs (even though I'm 47), but by far one of my favorites ever! Thanks for the vid, put a smile on my face! :)

Chas Cunningham said...

The show was near perfect, but I'd have liked it better if Rob and Laura had been childless. The character of Richie Petrie always seemed to me the lamest written and perhaps the worst acted child character on any sophisticated sitcom.

Michael said...

Great comments that put mine to shame. One thing about Van Dyke's physical ability is that sometimes Reiner or one of the writers would put into the script, "Dick does two minutes," and they would just let him do whatever he wanted.

The episodes when they would give Alan Brady a week off showed their diverse talents. I am a fine musician ....

brickben said...

Most of my early teens my biggest desire was to sleep in a twin bed only three feet from Laura Petrie.

Jim Stickford said...

One of the things I really appreciate, in retrospect, is how they acknowledged when someone said funny things. As comedy writers, the characters would stop what they were doing when someone else said something really funny.

I loved Cheers, Fraiser, etc. The characters would say very funny things, things I would have to spend a week thinking of to come up with, and the conversation would just go on.

In Dick Van Dyke, they acknowledge funny stuff, just like we do in real life.

thomas tucker said...

It is also interesting how funny the show was without there being any lewd humor. Why do so many of today's shows have to rely on sexually-based dirty jokes for most of their laughs?
I agree Ritchie was the weak link. But, oh, how onderful all the adults were- from DVD down to the deli delivery man and Herman Glimpscher.

Toby O'B said...

Now, when I was growing up, I wanted to be Buddy Sorrell.

He got paid to be funny.

He got to sleep on the job.

He got to make fun of a taller bald guy.

Two out of three ain't bad, but the money would have been nice.....

Brian Phillips said...

To Thomas Tucker: I rather like Larry Mathews' role. He played a sweet, very average boy. From top to bottom this cast clicked. For me, the original pilot is VERY hard to get through and I include the kid they used in that, too. Credit is due to Sheldon Leonard for seeing the potential of the show and the smarts to say that the creator, Carl Reiner, miscast himself. To Reiner's credit, only some of the concepts of the pilot survive, because he was wise and talented enough to write a better pilot, which is still one of the best first TV episodes ever. By the end of it, we know the characters well enough and laugh, too.

In recent memory, I would give the nod to "Friends" for best cast chemistry in the first episode and "Modern Family" for an amazing script, especially the last scene, which sums up all of the cast's relationships with great aplomb.

A_Homer said...

Now THAT's a good montage, it not only caught the essence of the DVD show but didn't drop a beat.

The Dick van Dyke show's success is irreproducible because it was so much by chance, the ultimate convergence of so many different routes, like Carl Reiner's writing decision back then to base it on his own life, control the script "bible"; the talent of Dick Van Dyke to connect to slapstick / visual gags, the musical side, but also able to deliver with the script (which was fast-paced); the second-characters all being well-trained from different facets of vaudeville, dance, entertainment etc... and able to contribute when need be - and of course, even having Carl Reiner as Alan Brady! Genius.
And it was MODERN - it included topics like racism and adoption etc... but in such a way there were none of the cloying, melodramatic maudlin "aaaaaawwwww"-inducing treacle of the later 70s "realism" sitcoms nor thankfully the garbagey sex phase of sitcoms. True classic.

kjb said...

I discovered the Dick Van Dyke Show when I was recovering from shoulder surgery. As others have said, it was a great, great show. Very funny and sweet. I loved the marital relationship -- even the quaintness (by the time I saw it) of the married couple sleeping in separate beds. Wonderfully hilarious montage that captures the essence of the show.

Tim said...

If you have Netflix, the full seasons are available for streaming.

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

The best. I once dedicated my life to recording all of the episodes, (when VCR's first came out). They ran locally on KOCE. I still have the tapes.

I might add, while in the middle of my recording quest, I took a comedy class from Jerry Paris...we became friends and I used to go up to his house in the Palisades and watch football. Talk about surreal. Bob

Anonymous said...

I was obsessed with this show as kid when it was rerun on Nick at Nite in the 90's. I loved it so much that every day I would count down the time till the show was coming on (9:00) and I would listen to the theme song at school to get me through the day. DVD, Cheers, and MASH are the shows that made feel that it was so much cooler being a adult. Though my adult life hasn't been as fun as those shows made it seem, it's definitely better than being the only kid in school with a pics of Dick Van Dyke on his notebook.

Jim, Cheers fan, that's what DVD's are for. You can even get episodes at the 99 cent store due to a legal loophole.

TMoss said...

I remember watching the special when it came on in 1994. I had just discovered the series on Nick-at-Nite and immediately went out and also bought a book about the series and envied everyone on it who pointed to those five years as the best of their lives.

This is one of he best montages ever and a great tribute to an exquisite comedy series.

I have every season on DVD.

My three favorite moments is Laura sliding out of the closet full of walnuts, Millie's "pea" scene from the flashback ep where Laura meets Rob's parents (PINK PILLS AND PURPLE PARENTS) and most hilariously --- when Robert meets the Peters in "That's My Boy??".

When I introduce friends to the show, I always start out with the latter.

Somersby Creek said...

Such a great show with a flawless cast - and incredible writing. I remember reading that Carl Reiner wrote the entire first season over a summer while he was contemplating what to do next. Wow.