Monday, July 20, 2015


In case you didn't read yesterday's post explaining this, here's part one of the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW episode I wrote.  I assume you all know the characters.  If not, it's well worth your time checking out a few episodes of the "real" DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.  It's an American classic.  But for now, let's travel back to 1965 and...

"The Brady That Came To Dinner"




Admit it, Rob. I look like a stork.

(COMFORTING) Aw honey, you do not.
(THEN) Storks are bent over more like -

You deserved that.


Mommy and Daddy are home! (NOTICING

It’s okay, Ritch. We were just in a
little car accident.

But we’re fine.

Was it your fault?

That’s really not important. What is
important is that everyone is okay.

Was it your car or Daddy’s?

Well, mine, but...

Mommy caused an accident!

Ritchie, why would you think that?

Because when Daddy takes me to school
he always says the mommy drivers can’t


(TO RITCHIE) And then Daddy says,
“except for your mommy.”


Laura, those women are Kamikaze


I gave Ritchie a snack and... Oh my
God! Were you in an accident?


Was it your fault?

Why does everyone ask that?

What did you do?

Nothing... someone cut me off.

So you were driving. I knew it.

Hey, would everybody please give me a
break? I was just in the Emergency
Room. (THEN, TO RITCHIE) With a booboo.
That’s all it was. A tiny booboo.
Go play in your room, darling.


“Women drivers are a menace.”


The other daddies talk too.

Is the car a total wreck?

Well, it did take the brunt of it...
along with the light post... and the
police kiosk. But the good news is
they were right there to fill out the

Tell me the truth, Millie. Do I look

What? No. You’re so pretty, Laura.
I’d still trade with you, even with
that big ugly bandage splattered on
your face.

Oh God!

It’s not that bad, honey. A big hat,
a lot of make up... maybe sunglasses --
and no one will even notice.


Well, I can’t wait to go home and (OFF
LAURA’S LOOK) not tell anybody about

Please, Millie. This is embarrassing
and I don’t want the word to get out.

I can keep a secret.

That’s not entirely true. Last year
strangers in the market were asking
about my enlarged prostate.

Well, Laura never should have told me.
That’s a very private matter.

The point is I would really appreciate
it if this time you would keep it to
yourself. Not that you wouldn’t, but
I know it’s hard for you... very
hard... “Breaking out of Alcatraz”

Don’t worry, Laura. I promise not to
say a word.

Thank you.

But can I tell about Rob?


Okay. Fine. (GRUMBLING) I wish this
stupid accident never happened.


You realize we should have just locked
her in the attic?

Jerry’d come looking after about a

I’m not so sure.




Rob, what happened?

(A LA FRANKENSTEIN) It’s alive! It’s

Laura and I were in an accident. But
we’re both fine.

Was it your fault?

Jeez, I wish I had a nickel for every
time someone asked me that.

Make it a dime. You’re going to need
‘em. Your insurance rates are going
to shoot through the roof.

It was not our fault.

My rates will go up just because I
know you. Thanks, Rob.

Most of my dates wear those... except
for the ones who don’t have necks.


We’ve got a problem. Have you seen
the morning papers?

No, we need a little more light. Bend

See how well I ignore? (TO BUDDY)
Pissant. (SHOWING THE PAPER) Alan’s on
the front page... with two strippers.

You’ve got to be kidding.

I wish I were.

You sure they’re not just network
executives... with tassels?

This is why I never had kids. The
thought of paying child support when I
left Pickles for either one of these

Let me see. (TURNS HIS HEAD, THEN) Ow!

(NOTICING THE COLLAR) What happened to
your neck, Rob?

It wasn’t my fault!


Mel? You in here?

Yes, Alan. Come on in.


What are you hiding for? I’m the one
who should be hiding. There’s fifteen
reporters in my office.

Want me to say something on your

I don’t like it when you speak
normally. No. I’ve got to lay low.
(LOOKS AROUND) This looks familiar.

It’s the writers’ office, Alan.

(SNAPPING) I can see it’s the writers
office. There’s Buddy and Sally and



Nice suit, Rob. (TO MEL) I have eyes.


What happened last night, Alan? And
why wasn’t I invited?

It was a funeral that got out of hand.

Excuse me, what? (CRANING HIS NECK)

guy from the old neighborhood. After
the service we went back to his place
for a condolence call, which turned
into more of a wake. Never let
Rosenberg-Feldman Mortuary plan your
funeral. Things got out of control
shortly after the mourners’ kaddish.

Well, at least their pasties were

I swear, you can’t be famous these
days. One lap dance with two girls
and right away you’re on the cover of
every morning rag.

They won’t even let you grieve in

Shut up, Mel.

How is your wife taking it?

The good news is she’s on a safari in
Africa so hasn’t heard about it yet.
The bad news is she’s improving her

Maybe you’ll get lucky and she’ll have
an affair with one of those sweaty
native guides.

Not with the kind of luck I’m having.
So I’m going to need a place to hide
for a night. Somewhere no one would
think to look for me.

How about a barbershop?

Y’see, Alan, that’s the kind of
insolence I have to put up with every

Shut up, Mel. It was funny. (THEN)
Without imposing and forget for the
moment that I hold your careers in my
hand, would any of you mind a house
guest for the night?



(TO MEL) Now you shut up?

You hate my kids.

You can’t send them away for a couple
of nights? No, never mind. I hate
your house too.

I live across the street of the Daily
News. Those nosy reporters look right
into my window.

Don’t you keep the shades down?


Thanks but no thanks.

You could stay with me but the place
spells like haggis. It knocks your
socks off.

Your wife made haggis last night?

No. Six years ago.

Alan, I guess you could stay with us.
But I warn you, we have a kid.

I love kids -- (RE MEL) just none that
look like him.

Well, then... okay. Welcome to the
Petrie Hilton.


More tomorrow!


Matt said...

I think the prostate joke may have been a bit much, but overall very funny.

Mark said...

The prostate joke didn't seem very 1965 but you nailed the voices and characters.

ScottyB said...

The opening lines of Ken's script are a fine example of balancing "funny" with reality — y'know, like those people who go "that would never happen in real life". The patent for the cervical collar (even the rudimentary ones, like one the car-accident shyster on that episode of 'The Brady Bunch') wasn't filed until 1964. So therefore, nobody would even know what a "neck brace" was during the 'DVD Show' days. Back then, most ordinary home viewers would most likely think Dick was wearing a very unusual turtleneck.

Maybe if Dick was wearing some sort of horrible cast-iron "neck brace" thing someone came up with during the Civil War years, that would be even more funny.

ScottyB said...

Along with a prostate, would anyone during the early 1960s know what a kiosk is? Just being objective here.

RockGolf said...

Well the first two said what I was going to say. What they didn't say is that this is really funny stuff. A little light on what DVD has to do, but absolutely nailed the rhythm, the voice, and a sensibilities of the show. This could have been a better-than-average 4th season episode, no doubt.

My two favorite lines: the safari line and the haggis line. And "Barbershop". And... oh hell, I enjoyed it all!

ScottyB said...

VO: Tonight ... on a very special episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' ... Buddy actually does leave Pickles ...

Mark Stout said...

Millie asks "Can I tell Rob?". Didn't you mean Jerry?

Graeme said...

What others have said: the prostrate joke is anachronistic. I have no idea if "Lap dance" had the same connotations 50 years ago as it does now, but I suspect regardless you'd have a Standards and Practices argument. Actually the whole Stripper storyline would have been a war with S&P I can imagine!

ScottyB said...

I will be sorely disappointed if there isn't any dialog in the upcoming segments between Rob and Buddy about how hard it probably is to aim accurately at a toilet when you're wearing a neck brace and want to keep your manly dignity by not resorting to sitting down on the toilet instead.

ScottyB said...

Well, then... okay. Welcome to the
Petrie Hilton.

Will I have to tip your kid or anything?

Graeme said...

But... I have to say I think you really captured the characters and the cadences of how they spoke (the interaction between Rob and Laura and Millie in the opening scene was brilliant) and it otherwise feels like an episode of Dick Van Dyke. I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Next time do a Mary Tyler Moore show and get Jim Brooks and Allan Burns to comment on it!

ScottyB said...

One thing I've noticed in this exercise. I've seen it mentioned that one-liners don't make great comedy; situations do. But if you look at this script (or any other actual 'DVD Show' script, especially writer room scenes with Buddy & Sally), isn't it a big collection of one-liners?


Oat Willie said...

I don't want to "note" you to death but get out of the 21st Century! People did not say "My God" in 1965 sitcoms. Buddy would not make a haggis joke in 1965. Pissant? And quit directing Laura to bend over and expose her thong!
Send me a grand,a pleasure reading for you!

ScottyB said...

Sorry, upon further thought, I probably should have qualified my comment a bit more. I probably should have should have said "a collection of snarky/comedic comebacks" instead of "one-liners". Those are two different things. Pretty much every sitcom lives and dies on the snappy comeback.

KING OF JAZZ said...

I agree with Oat; it needs to be 100% 1965.

Janice said...

Kiosk stuck out to me, too.
I've never before heard any reference to an attic in their house.
Most of America is probably unfamiliar with haggis.
Tassels? Black pasties? Lap dance?

I enjoyed the repartee in the office, but this does not feel like 1965 and the slant ruins the clean fun we normally enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I like this experiment and I liked Part 1.

Guys, why not enjoy the Free show and stop with the criticisms?
Yes, it appears that the jokes are modern rather than 1960s. So what?

Of course Ken probably does not want me defending him.
The last guy I defended on his blog was Bill Cosby...

Still Angry
Angry Gamer

Ted said...

Wonderful - like seeing a lost episode of my then-favorite show! As for the "spicier" jokes, I have the distinct feeling that Carl Reiner will let them stay in.

RockGolf said...

Waiting to hear Alan Brady's reaction when he finds Rob & Laura sleep in separate beds.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure that kaddish would not have been mentioned back then, either.


Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Great fun!

Bill Jones said...

I really enjoyed reading this, but what I realized afterward is that I enjoyed reading it not just because of the humor/jokes, but also--and especially--because I pictured the characters we know saying them--specifically, Dick Van Dyke, MTM, Morey Amsterdam, etc. I think if you gave this script to just a bunch of regular actors--or even most of today's sitcom actors/actresses--it just wouldn't work as well, no matter how valiantly they tried. What's funny about the opening scene is not just the writing, but how I can see DVD and MTM interacting--the facial looks, the timing, etc. This has made me realize how important casting and characters are to a sitcom--or any medium, for that matter. You have to have great writing, of course (and I think this effort is really impressive), but you have to have characters you know and care about and actors/actresses who can pull it off.

Bill Slankard said...

It's not a 1960s DVD script. I like the setup, it's funny (loved the "barbershop" remark), and the characters all seem... in character. As long as you weren't trying to write the script for the 1960s era show, it's very good

Anonymous said...

A few seasons back there was a new team producing the TV comedy, Community. The characters, because the same actors inhabited their roles, seemed right, and the jokes seemed to be the same, but somehow, despite many episodes actually being funnier than the "real" Community, it just felt... off. The same here, unfortunately. Loads of real funny stuff and many of those dead on perfect to my ear, and I'd definitely love to see it done live, but somehow it felt off. Maybe it was all the references others have mentioned that flung it right into the 21st century but looking back, with our current sensibilities, at the 1960s.

But it's the closest thing we'll get to a new Dick Van Dyke episode, so roll out acts two and three. -MW

Canda said...

Well done. Some people seem confused about the time period, since prostate jokes, and the word "pissant" would never have been allowed by the censors in the 1960s. Having said that, the entire idea of lousy women drivers IS from the 60s. So, you
have to choose an era and stick with it.

Otherwise, very high quality none's surprise.

Anonymous said...

Off topic but I wanted to tell you your girl Natalie is on TCM all day today. Enjoy! Janice B.

Hamid said...

I have the distinct feeling that Carl Reiner will let them stay in.

Carl Reiner is 93 years old. Does he even know what year it is?

Ken Levine said...

Wow, this is like being subjected to notes from ten thousand network executives. Yikes. Now you see what we deal with. We write a scene with an objective and it results in a twenty minute debate over a word.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Anonymous 1: I think Ken posted it here to see reactions, good and bad, not just to bask in the glow of sycophantic praise.

Anonymous 2: I feel a little like that - but most shows, by season 6 (which this would be), have become imitations of themselves rather than the original show. There's no shame there, especially since I think Ken *has* captured the characters' voices. I'm sure the anachronisms would have been taken out before shooting, but those are minor fixes: it's easy to replace "Oh, God" and "Oh, my God", and I agree the prostate joke is utterly not 1965 prime time, and talk about strippers and pasties...not going to happen. I also query the insurance rates comments: my recollection is that they didn't go up as promptly or as much back then. For me the lines that do clunk a bit are Sally's: I know (because I have revisited the show on DVD in recent years) that she talked way more about her dates and her longing for a man than I ever remembered, but it's not *all* she talked about; she was one of the boys at work, but the "pasties" joke seemed off for my image of her as a character, not just because it's an anachronism. Most of America was in love with Laura Petrie; I loved *Sally* because she was funny, smart, equal, and had a great job, so I may simply not *want* Sally to make that joke. I do think Alan is a little more polite here than he was on the show - wouldn't he have picked the house he wanted and informed its owner?

More interesting, though, is to talk about the story, which does seem solid enough. It feels to me like we might be heading for THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER territory here (not least because I know how much Ken admires George S. Kaufman), but of course it all has to be wrapped up in half an hour.


DBenson said...

For the record, DVD did get mixed up with some strippers. But the setting was an old-fashioned burlesque house and the girls had gimmicky costumes and names like Alberta Schwitzer. It was less suggestive than, say, Laura revealing she was underage when they married.

As far as Jewish references, one episode centered on Buddy studying in secret for his long-overdue bar mitzvah.

Hollywoodaholic said...

Critics. None of whom could write something as funny. I applaud the bravery to post this knowing that everyone feels the are an empowered critic thanks to the Internet. I took it as writing in the style of the show but an episode that could air today. And for that, a complete success. Well done. No notes.

Rashad Khan said...

Frankly, the anachronisms and spicier jokes are 1) easy to fix and 2) not terribly important to address at this juncture. I'd rather wait to read the rest of the script and then address that and anything else that might come up. So far, though, so good.

Rashad Khan said...

Also, I think maybe you should do a spec for "My Mother, the Car." For years, ever since I first heard the joke on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," I've been dying to see what fun WOULD begin when "Mother" undergoes a lube job.

The Minstrel Boy said...

the thing that impressed me about this first offering is how easily i put the actors i'm so familiar with into the reading. you nailed "the voice."

Cap'n Bob said...

Very funny and the rhythms were right. I agree that prostate needs to be replaced with another body part and pissant needs to be deleted. I doubt they had lap dances back then, too.

Jack Terwilliger said...

What I appreciate is that by the end of this part, two major plot points have been clearly established: the Petries have been injured in a car accident, and Alan is coming to their house to hide out, and yet I cannot predict how these two events will come together in the next part.

Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo said...

Great Part 1. Everyone chill out with the notes!

Fake Hamid needs to take his meds and get back to his ALF boxset signed by Max Wright.

Todd Everett said...

Does anybody actually say "brunt" in everyday conversation? To me, it's one of those words that people occasionally write, but sound awkward when spoken informally.

Otherwise, perfect.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Just scrolling through and noting the mostly short lines of dialog is like taking a course in writing. This script sounds like a radio guy wrote it - it definitely has a radio rhythm. Dick Van Dyke show is still one of my all time favorites, and, unlike many of the commentators here, I started watching the show when it first came on. My parents, who hated most television, loved the show

KING OF JAZZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Pepoon said...

"Love every line of it, but do the Petries have to be in a car accident? And can we lose the stripper angle? Otherwise, don't touch a thing." Studio exec.

Al said...

As someone who is still writing spec scripts frequently, I really like how you're serving the actors. A little physical comedy for DVD. Some great opportunities for terrific reaction shots for MTM. One-liners for Morey Amsterdam. I love Sally as a character so I'm hoping to see a bit more from her later on.

When I write specs, I try to keep an eye out for where I deviate from the shows established formula, so I think the question of whether the jokes are era appropriate is something to consider. Also, I'm by no means an expert, but did Alan Brady ever come in to the writers room in the show? I actually really like that part because even if he did in the original show it must have been rare, so rare that you have a joke opportunity.

I've often thought about doing a spec for a show that's off the air, but thought I'd be wasting time. I feel like I could do a bang-up job on a Barney Miller script.

Kosmo13 said...

One joke felt to me as though it violated established character: Buddy's crack about no one expecting to find Alan Brady in a barber shop. Buddy made those kind of comments about Mel Cooley all the time, but I don't remember him ever insulting Alan Brady while Alan was present.

Buddy said horrible things about Alan Brady when Brady wasn't there, but I recall him as being more cautious when Alan could hear him.

johnachziger said...

Really looked forward to this, but I'm very disappointed. This is probably how a real writer's staff would talk, but not on 1965 TV. Sorry to argue over words, but what's been mentioned above is very true (and the line about Alan's wife and the sweaty black Africans???). It's almost like you're trying to spoof us rather than really trying to write 1965 humor.

Mike Schryver said...

I agree that terms like "lap dance" and some others keep it from feeling like the '60s. Otherwise, very funny.

Jake Mabe said...

As much as I truly enjoyed this, I felt sure you'd give a birth date salute to the most beautiful woman to ever walk the planet! :)

Jake Mabe said...

As much as I truly enjoyed this, I felt sure you'd give a birth date salute to the most beautiful woman to ever walk the planet! :)

Jake Mabe said...

As much as I truly enjoyed this, I felt sure you'd give a birth date salute to the most beautiful woman to ever walk the planet! :)

MikeN said...

Friday question:

You're not going to believe me, but I came here to ask 'What was the last spec you ever wrote?'

kent said...

By the time 1965 standards and practices get done with this you will have a very funny three minute script to build on.

404 said...

Ken, I remember a long time ago you wrote that in a script, EVERY line of dialogue has to serve some sort of purpose. If it doesn't, it's just fluff and needs to be taken out. Since I read that, I sometimes like to watch an episode of a show with that in mind, and try and figure out the purpose of the lines and what they tell me -- do they develop plot, character, etc, or are they just there to fill space?

Anyway, reading through this script with that in mind I can say that, to my VERY untrained eye, you nailed that aspect.

404 said...

Ken, I remember a long time ago you wrote that in a script, EVERY line of dialogue has to serve some sort of purpose. If it doesn't, it's just fluff and needs to be taken out. Since I read that, I sometimes like to watch an episode of a show with that in mind, and try and figure out the purpose of the lines and what they tell me -- do they develop plot, character, etc, or are they just there to fill space?

Anyway, reading through this script with that in mind I can say that, to my VERY untrained eye, you nailed that aspect.

Anonymous said...
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Michael said...

I confess, I'll be especially curious to see what Persky and (I hope) Reiner think. I know what the commenters mean about the use of certain words, but I also wonder--this could even be a Friday question--if you ever put stuff into a script figuring it will be taken out, but it gives you a negotiating position with the humorless folks from standards & practices.

Anyway, this is as close as we are going to get to a new script for this show, and what's most important to me is that Ken nailed the characters, although I wonder whether Laura would have made the snarky comment about Jerry and Millie.

thomas tucker said...

Great rhythm- very true to the original, and I can't wait to see what happens next, and how the show plays out.
I agree with the comments about prostate, haggis, and lapdance. Also, I don't get the line when Alan says to Mel :I don't like it when you speak normally. That doens't have the right ring to it.

Les said...

Overall, a fun read and easy to immediately immerse yourself in the DVD Show all over again. A great choice of shows to start this experiment. But a few things took me out of the moment that other commenters already wrote about (strippers, pissant). Also, while the woman driver issue has been around forever (Marcia versus Greg Brady, anyone?) would such a comment by DVD about women drivers actually be said? I think we would still care about which one was driving in the accident without DVD's feeling about women drivers. Perhaps the scene could have established that Laura had scored 100% on the driving test while DVD needed 2 times to pass and in the past she has gloated about it yet she was the one in the accident? In my imaginary re-write, in Scene 1 I'd have Rob and Laura in the accident, Laura (Ms. 100%) is driving but Laura swears it was because she was cut off by a fancy red Cadillac but Rob had his turned around trying to get something out the back seat so he did not see it. And the reason the tabloids are after Alan Brady is because he recently had his driver's license suspended for too many parking tickets yet someone claims they saw him driving just last night, and Buddy says... "Oh, I bet you were out joy riding in that fancy Cadillac you just got. I told you people would notice you more in a red car." And now Alan needs a place to hide from the tabloids and he ends up at Rob and Laura's house. How it turns out is Scene 3...

Brian Drake said...

Wow, very good! I'd rather watch this episode than that awful reunion special the cast did several years ago.

Gary said...

Ken, this is great! It's the next best thing to finding a lost episode. The one downside is, this gets me to thinking that maybe the DVD Show could have gone on for a few more seasons, without the quality dropping off. Almost 50 years later, I'm still mad at Carl Reiner for ending the show when he did -- and this sure isn't helping matters!

Diane said...

I'm not going to give you the network exec treatment and pick apart your script. Looking forward to reading all of it. I am genuinely confused, though, Ken. Is this supposed to be taking place now or in the early '60s? I assumed it was supposed to be during the time the original series aired, but some of the jokes and references seem much more 2010s than 1960s, so I wasn't clear.

Wayne said...

Let me guess where it's going.
Alan wants to duck reporters by staying with Rob and Laura.
But Alan is a bad house guest, making demands like Kaufman and Hart's Man Who Came to Dinner.
Rob and Laura want some privacy to talk so they step out on the front lawn.
But a tabloid reporter who tailed Alan snap photos of injured Rob and Laura.
Reporter thinks Alan caused their injuries. He wants to paint a picture of Alan as more abusive than Alec Baldwin on the phone with his daughter.
Rob claims that Alan is the perfect boss and house guest.
But the reporter doesn't believe him.
So Laura tearfully accepts the blame as woman driver,
which causes Rob to defend her.
When it looks the darkest, the truth comes out because Millie blabbed everything.

H Johnson said...

I agree with your commentors about the few un-Dick Van Dyke Show remarks. Please don't compare us to the suits. You may have a few writers or future writers in here but a lot of us just enjoy TV and good writing.

In my opinion you have certainly captured the rhythm of the show's dialogue and your characters sound like themselves (especially Millie). just lose the modern 'snark' and weird words. I don't think it's a time period problem per se, just that you gotta keep with the 'niceness.

Anyhoo, great job and thanks for sharing.


Ken Levine said...

You guys do realize that I don't intend to rewrite a word of this? The point is to see what the actual writers of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW think. I promise to disclose all of their notes, the things they liked and didn't. But do understand, I wrote it seeking THEIR feedback. They can provide me (and you readers) with an insider's view that is rare and invaluable.

I've been doing this a long time and I learned a lot from my conversation with Bill Persky. I invite you to chill, enjoy the exercise, collect your own thoughts, and see what the insiders have to say. See how your comments jibed with theirs.

How special that we're all afforded a first hand look into the process of writing one of the true classic sitcoms in television history. That's what I'm focusing on; not whether a censor would let me say the word prostate.

Have fun with this, people.

MikeK.Pa. said...

WOW!! I could hear all the characters delivering these lines in my head while I was reading the dialogue - especially Buddy and Alan (a treat to have him in the episode and he had some killer lines). The minor stuff pointed out doesn't take away from the high quality of the script. I can see another Ken Levine theater event next year after you've finishing writing scripts for three other of your favorite sitcoms (maybe MASH, CHEERS and FRASIER)? This time, bring it East - please.

Sorry I missed the Natalie Wood marathon today on TCM. :(

Wayne said...

I predict the episode will end with a hug
and Laura wiping away a tear as she cries "Oh, Rob!"

Charles H. Bryan said...

What? Refusing rewrites! Why you rassafrassum.

In terms of the exercise, I think this first installment does show how you captured the essentials of the show -- its rhythms, the characters basic worldviews.(Buddy and Sally would almost always speak in comedic responses, maybe just to keep those comedy writing muscles toned.) And that has to be one of the huge challenges of a spec script.

As I read this, I could visualize the qctors' expressions and postures, even the camera shots. A tribute also to how well that show established its visual and comedic identity. And, yes, I visualized it in black and white!

Charles H. Bryan said...

"Actors" not "qctors". Damn tablet keyboard.

BTW, extra thanks for this. It was a crap afternoon at work, and the script made me laugh.

Danny said...

Well, hell, Ken, if we can't nitpick and criticize, what's supposed to be fun about this for us?

thomas tucker said...

What? You refuse to change a word of it? You're fired!!!

KING OF JAZZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KING OF JAZZ said...

I'm glad someone else didn't like the "official" new DVD episode a few years ago. It was terrible from the first scene onward.

RyderDA said...

Okay, NOW I'm curious (and I'm not at all in the biz).

You always say you need to have in your portfolio spec scripts. Could any professional writer actually get away with submitting a package of specs for HAPPY DAYS, THE BRADY BUNCH and NIGHT COURT (and maybe even THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) as proof of their ability to write (a) funny stuff (b) in radically different voices and styles? Of course, they would have to submit a BIG BANG too. But would it work? Or would it be laughed off?

ScottyB said...

@Ken Levine: I think pretty much everyone I've seen comment actually is chilling. But still, when you throw a party, you can't account for everyone waling thru the door. I haven't seen anything untoward or mean or even off base so far. Observations, yeah, but nothing sorely critical.

But even so and in the end, *you're* the guy who has made a fine living doing it. The rest of us, well, we don't even fuckin' teach. Just read all the comments in the voice of some Borsch Belt-skit Jewish mother who has something to say but still loves ya anyway and everything's all hunky dory :) Just my take on it.

RCP said...

I went from watching an episode of DVD to reading this, and as others have commented, could visualize the scenes and the characters saying these lines. I found the idea of Alan Brady's wife on a safari to be particularly funny. Looking forward to the next installment and to feedback from DVD writers.

ScottyB said...

@RockGolf: Even better, Alan's reaction when Rob & Laura have to sleep in the same bed because he's taking up one of theirs — in the bedroom.

Now THAT would be a pickle for a 1964 DVD script, wouldn't it? And this whole thing, all these comments so far today, solidly demonstrates the value of a writer's room.

ScottyB said...

What with all the notes about pasties and lap dances and such, maybe the reporters could've gotten on Alan Brady's case about his wife going on safari and shooting defenseless animals. It would've been groundbreaking then. PETA 30 years before PETA.

Or hm, maybe even something unusual with a clown instead of a lap dance. It would've applied in 1964 same as today.

Man, the imagined possibilities get funnier as the day goes on :)

ScottyB said...

@Ken Levin said:

>> That's what I'm focusing on; not whether a censor would let me say the word prostate. <<

True, and I'm pretty sure most of us know that's what you're focusing on, that's that's what everyone's interested in reading. By far, your blog has given valuable advice you just can't fucking buy anywhere else, and you've been doing it for free for 10 years. You are truly a true mentor.

But still OTOH, aren't the "note" points made still valid. Maybe it's because you didn't really state whether your script is if you were actually a writer on DVD in 1963, or someone present-day writing a script going back in time. Maybe that's the whole thing.

Me, I'm appreciating that you're actually even doing this. For fucking free. But still, do you think any less of us for poking your dog with a stick a little bit because, well, isn't that what kinda-funny smart-ass people end up doing anyway?

Imagine the notes you'd get from us folk if you were a TV drama writer. Oy.

John G said...

This is what Ken wrote on his blog yesterday: "I’ve written a spec DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. Wrote it as if it were 1965." I think that's why we were all a little surprised.

Artie Breyfogle said...

Wowser! You REALLY did nail it...Just like I was watching back on the Big Eye in the 60's...Can't wait to get back to the story after our commercial break...

Let's see...Kent (with the Micronite filter - that had JUST a hint of blue asbestos), Tang (in honor of Moon landing anniversary this week), and some yummy Post cereals (because Kellogg's had way too many spots back then)...Then a quick news promo to have us watch it at eleven when we ask, "Do YOU know where YOUR children are?") and then BAM! We're back with the tale...

Great job, Ken...

ScottyB said...

@John G: Thankyouverymuch. Exactly what I was thinking like 12 hours ago and reading the comments afterward, and most likely hence the strife and agitation. OTOH, I'm pretty sure most reasonable people know things are often written on the fly and sometimes you're not as exact as you probably would be if you had like 3 days to proof every sentence. I'm pretty convinced that most everything being said here has been said in good nature, tho.

H Johnson said...

Lighten up Francis


ScottyB said...

@Artie Breyfogle: That would be awesome too, even tho Tang didn't come around until the 1970s. But that would still be neat. And there could even be a duel between Kent's micronite filer and Tereyton's charcoal filter. Still, a fine LSMFT evening to you, sir :)

mmryan314 said...

Loving everything about this post today. I took a nap today and wrote the ending in my head. Anxious for the next few days. Thanks Ken. I love this stuff.

Roger R. said...

Mel Cooley jokes fifty years later! So fun!

thomas tucker said...

@Scotty:Tang was definitely sold in the 1960's. I know. I was there.

Karl said...

Ken, I have a question for Bill Persky, if he happens to be taking them, or you want to bother to ask. I've seen commercials from THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW which feature the cast of the show plugging Joy Dishwashing Liquid or Kent Cigarettes or whoever the sponsor happened to be that week. Did the staff writers come up with these or have any input into them, or was the ad agency responsible for them?

I've seen cast commercials from other shows, too, and what strikes me about them is how often they play into the specific episode in which they aired. Referencing specific things that happened in that episode.

According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, Tang was first marketed in 1957, but didn't really take off, sales-wise, until its association with the space program began.

Dan Reese said...

Any chance you could also send this to Garry Marshall for his feedback? While he was never a producer on The Dick Van Dyke Show (like Carl and Bill), the scripts he wrote with Jerry Belson are some of the series' best episodes, and he certainly has showrunner cred.
Can't wait to read more of the script and to see what Bill and hopefully Carl have to say.

Anonymous said...

1) i never remember Buddy getting off less then a fast 2 or 3 shots at Mel as soon as he appeared. A single shot seems fame ror him

2) Milly blabs, Crowd gathers
brady has Rob imatite him to distract the crowd while Brady sneaks out the back.
of course this means that neck brace goes to brady and Rob has physical comedy of trying to smile through his part while in extreme discomfort /pain.
Give Dick Van Dyke scene for physical humor.

ScottyB said...

@thomas tucker: I stand corrected Thank you. But here ya go nonetheless:

"Tang sucks." — Buzz Aldrin

ScottyB said...

@Karl: Here you go.

Charles Pannunzio said...

That was a fun read, Ken. I could really see/hear the cast deliver those lines. Looking forward to more.

ScottyB said...

I couldn't tell from the script. Will fashions in upcoming segments be provided by Mr. Mort as well?

Settle down. I'm KIDDING!!

A_Homer said...

Great job. I'd really be unable to say if all was funny funny without the actors working it.
I would say this hits a lot of the tone and pace, but there are jarring mis-matches when you go to references that are too detailed. For example:
-- Prostate is not of the moment nor would it be mentioned. I think the most they ever mentioned was appendix and tooth and pregnancy. If they sleep in separate beds they aren't going to feel free to mention prostate.
-- "Breaking out of Alcatraz" though time-wise right, is also too detailed a reference.
-- the mourners kaddish - again it's Alan talking to his writing staff, only Buddy is Jewish, I don't think he would say that. Carl Reiner / Alan Brady played like a cosmopolitan who wanted to assimilate more.
-- Haggis - is that really so well understood people will make a joke from it?

I also agree with the commenter who said Buddy needs a few attempts on Mel, it's got to feel like a bothersome fly Mel wants to swat away.
Nice way of introducing the characters through their home life and their dwelling, particularly Sally.

thirteen said...

I think you've absolutely nailed the voice. Most important, I could see them all in my head, and I laughed. A lot.

Barry Traylor said...

I may have to sue you for making me snort my morning coffee out of my nose Mr. Levine. Seriously though Ken you really nailed it. The timing and the voices were perfect. My God how I loved this show. Looking forward to tomorrow.

CarsonT said...

Tone and voice are dead on. The characters are spot on. A couple of small, easy to remedy things dinged me, tho: enlarged prostate (would the censors be okay with that back in 1966?); Lap Dance (not something that was a thing until the 1970's - again Standards & Practices would have had a fit if it was), and I'm not sure the neckbrace was around yet, but I'm not sure if being a few years off there matter. Even Mad Men had anachronisms - though mostly with music insted of props.

The storylines are strong and the sexist joke about women drivers his on the money for that era. Loving this!

blinky said...

I agree with language issues. I think in the 60's there was a lot of implied references to risque things. I think it would have gone more like:

We've got a problem. Alan is on the front page with two dancers.

Dancers? So what?

You know, dancers.



Oh like with tassels, dancers.

Yes those dancers.

Well at least he was standing.

Well not the whole time.

I gotta sit down.

Rob, that's how Alan got in trouble.

Stephen Marks said...

Okay look, the "Buddy" joke re: .....where nobody will find me"/ "How about the barbershop" was worth Ken writing this. It made me laugh, I could see Buddy saying it, I could see it all happening in the "office" and for that thank you Ken.

CarsonT said...

Hi Ken,
I normally don't go back and read the comments after my comment, but I did today (7/26/15) after today's post and found your frustration posted repeatedly in the comments of the bulk of your readers. I'm afraid that as much as they do resemble network notes, you did open yourself up for that by posting it on a blog where you invite comments. Most people here may be aspiring TV writers or just fans of yours, but almost none of those people have any professional experience on what story notes from other writers/producers focus on or care about. A layman's view will focus not on tone or voice or story, it will most likely focus on whether Buddy tells one joke or three normally, if Alan can get a car delivered before 8am and the possibility of getting a Manhattanite to write in Westchester. If you didn't want notes from the crowd, perhaps it could have been mentioned on day one. Regardless, don't judge your faithful readers too harshly for giving their two cents. There is nothing people love more than to be heard.

But if this is the kind of stuff you get from network execs - there is no excuse for that! Yeesh!

Johnny Walker said...

This is brilliant. I love how you (inevitably, given your experience) have everyone's voice down. One question: Could you say prostate in 1965?