Thursday, July 23, 2015

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW -- Part 4

Here's the last part of the spec script I recently wrote for THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.  On Monday I'll post the reaction from the real DICK VAN DYKE SHOW writers.  The first three parts appear earlier in the week.  An explanation of all of this can be found in last Sunday's post. 

EVERYONE BUT LAURA ENTERS THE KITCHEN JUST AS THE DOORBELL
RINGS. SHE TAKES A DEEP BREATH TO COMPOSE HERSELF THEN
ANSWERS THE DOOR.

MILLIE
Laura, is that a new car? That’s a
new car.

LAURA
(JUST LOUD ENOUGH TO BE HEARD IN THE
KITCHEN) So that’s why you’re here.
Because you saw the new car. Yes.

MILLIE
Wow. With a big bow and everything.
Rob got that for you, right? I can’t
imagine an insurance company gift
wrapping a claim they have to pay off.
Unless they’re going to drop you and
this is how they let you down easy.
That’s pretty low, even for them.

LAURA
No, Millie. It is from Rob.

MILLIE
Why? It’s not your birthday. It’s
not your anniversary. (DAWNING) Oooh,
you two had a fight.

LAURA
What? No. We did not have a fight.

MILLIE
It must’ve been a doozy.

LAURA
Millie, we’re fine.

MILLIE
He slept on the couch even. What more
proof do you need besides a broken
lamp? Frankly I’m not surprised.
Well, I am but I’m not. It’s always
the ones with nice teeth. Ever notice
that?

LAURA
He did nothing!

MILLIE
They smile and seem so normal. I
blame their mothers. Just had to get
their kids braces.

RESET TO:

INT. KITCHEN -CONTINUOUS

EVERYONE LISTENING AT THE DOOR, TALKING IN HUSHED TONES.

ROB
Great. Now the whole neighborhood is
going to think we’re getting divorced.
No, by the time it gets around I will
have an addiction to pain killers,
gambling problem, was caught fooling
around with the checkout girl, and the
accident was because I was in a highspeed
chase with the police.

SALLY
No one is going to believe that.

BUDDY
Sure they will. You’ve seen his teeth.

RESET TO:

INT LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

AS BEFORE.

MILLIE
Was it because he still blamed you for
the accident? Then he said things he
shouldn’t but only did because of the
pain pills? Laura, be honest, is he
addicted to those things?

LAURA
No! My God. Millie, what have those
soap operas done to you?

MILLIE
I only watch five. (THEN) But Laura,
seriously, if it’s not that then what
is it?

LAURA
(ON THE SPOT) What is it? (STALLING)
Why did Rob buy me a new car?

MILLIE
And sleep on the couch?

LAURA IS REALLY ON THE SPOT.

LAURA
Well... Millie... it’s because... the
truth is... yes, we had a fight.

MILLIE
I knew it! Over what?

LAURA
Oh, Millie...

MILLIE
Come on. I’m here for you. What was
the fight about?

LAURA
Uh...(BEAT) Cuba.

ALAN ENTERS FROM THE KITCHEN. THE OTHERS FOLLOW SHORTLY
BEHIND.

ALAN
There was no fight. I slept on the
couch. And I bought Laura that car.

MILLIE
Alan Brady?! Ohmygod! Alan Brady!

ALAN
It’s that look of surprise and horror
when people see me that pushes me ever
onward when things get tough.

MILLIE
Everyone is looking for you. It’s
even on the news. At first when I saw
you on TV I thought, “Uh oh, he died.”

ALAN
No, happily it’s just a major scandal.

ROB
Which is why you’re not going to say
anything, right Millie?

MILLIE
Huh? Oh no. Of course not.

SALLY
And while you’re not saying anything
about that, don’t tell any men that I
was voted the sexiest woman in the
writers’ union.

MILLIE
(SKEPTICAL) Really?

BUDDY
Hey, I’ve been to the meetings. She
was also voted the most handsome man.

SALLY
I’d be offended if he wasn’t right.

LAURA
Millie, this time you have to keep the
secret. Because if you don’t I swear
I’m going to... (BEAT) Rob, what am I
going to do?

ROB
Uh... she’s going to ask for all the
things you borrowed back.

MILLIE
(HORRIFIED) I’m not a murderer. (THEN)
Okay. I promise. Solemn vow. I
won’t tell a single soul that I saw
Alan Brady in your house. (PRACTICALLY
IN TEARS) Ooooh, this is going to be
so hard.

LAURA
(A WARNING) So help me, I’m taking the
Osterizer.

MILLIE
(A BROKEN WOMAN) Okay. Okay.

MILLIE EXITS.

ROB
All right, Alan, you have about a half
hour head start.

ALAN
Yeah, I figured.

LAURA
Thank you so much. But why did you do
that?

ALAN
Sooner or later I have to face this.
Why should I bring you two down with
me? (THEN) Cuba?

LAURA
That is so sweet. Thank you again.

ALAN
I just hope she also mentions that I
bought you a car. Let me get
something out of this damn deal.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM - THAT NIGHT

ROB AND LAURA ON THE COUCH WATCHING TV. FROM THE SET WE
HEAR:

ALAN (O.S.)
Again, I apologize to my fans. I was
merely respecting my dear friend’s
final wishes. Oh, and the family
requests that in lieu of flowers
please send all donations to the
“Society for the Elevation of Pole
Dancing” just off Times Square. Thank
you.

ROB TURNS OFF THE TV.

LAURA
Well, I thought he handled that well.

ROB
I don’t think he’ll be guesting on
Captain Kangaroo anytime soon but yes.

RITCHIE ENTERS.

RITCHIE
Hey Daddy, what time did the man go to
the dentist?

ROB
Gee, I don’t know, Ritch.

RITCHIE
Tooth-hurty.

ROB
Good one.

RITCHIE
That’ll be a dollar.

LAURA
Richie, that’s not why you tell jokes.

ROB
Mommy’s right. You don’t tell them to
make money. You tell them to make
people laugh; to make them happy.

RITCHIE
Not worth it.

RITCHIE EXITS INTO HIS ROOM.

ROB
God, I hate to lie to my son.

LAURA
What do you mean?

ROB
I didn’t go into comedy to make people
happy. I’m glad I do but that wasn’t
the point.

LAURA
Then what was the point?

ROB
To impress girls.

LAURA
Rob, that’s terrible.

ROB
But it’s true. When we first met,
remember I told you that story about
chasing the raccoon under our house?
You wound up going out for a soda with
me.

LAURA
That story wasn’t funny. I felt sorry
for you.

ROB
Wait a minute. So you only went out
with me the first time out of pity?

LAURA
Well... yes.

ROB
See? It worked!

ON LAURA’S REACTION, WE:

FADE OUT.

THE END

44 comments:

Oat Willie said...

FISHED IN!

emily said...

What a truly amazing project!

Anonymous said...

Continuity problems - we already saw how they met, when they first went out, etc. And how Rob broke her foot in the process. Of course, continuity back than wasn't what it is now (if it is anything at all).

Xwordz

Barry Traylor said...

Reading this made me think once again how good the entire cast of this show was.

Carol said...

I enjoyed that very much! I could hear the voices in my head as a read it.

And now I'm probably going to start watching the Dick VanDyke show on Netflix. Again.

RockGolf said...

You can tell this is set in 1965, because these days the twist would be that Alan Brady recognized Millie as one of the strippers.

A satisfying conclusion that nicely joins the intro scene to the main plot.

Jerry Krull said...

Nice job Ken. Great example of how to move the plot along and be funny without completely leaving the story line just to jam in a joke. Felt like a real episode of the original show.

RockGolf said...

And she would call him "Mr. Cooley".

Graeme said...

According to that not-ever-unreliable source of information Wikipedia, "In the 1920s, traveling circuses and sideshows would utilize pole dancing with a pole in the middle of a tent. Eventually the pole dancing moved from tents to bars, and combined with burlesque dance. The earliest recorded pole dance was in 1968 with a performance by Belle Jangles at Mugwump Strip Club in Oregon." Incredibly, Wikipedia sources this remark to a website that's a history of the subject which says it was really only popularized in strip clubs in the 1980s.

I could be wrong though. And I'm not really prepared to research the subject much further than that!

All this is to say, I think Alan's joke at the end is anachronistic.

CarsonT said...

Loved the ending. Again, the voices were dead on - just two things gave me a bump. 1) the pole-dancing line (no pole dancing in strip clubs at that time, and even if a few started it up, the middle class wouldn't have heard of it yet. and 2) the continuity issue with how Rob got Laura to go out. I remember that episode, though I'm not sure if the writers of the show back there cared if the joke was good - which yours it.

So, not much to quibble about - overall I could see the entire episode in my head and heard all the voices clearly, so well done! I can't wait to see what the show's writers thought. I do hope Carl is able give his notes to you by Monday. Did you see the Mad about you where he once again played Alan? It was a fun episode and you can see him clearly enjoying himself.

Howard Hoffman said...

I'm doing the fist-pump "YES!" - because you finally projected a brilliant writer-to-be into Rob Petrie. Becoming a writer to impress girls? We know that guy. He writes this blog. You finally made Rob admit his inflience on you, Ken. This was truly the "lost" DVD episode. Bravo.

Michael said...

I think this has been absolutely incredible. I just wonder about a slight missed opportunity. Jerry was a dentist. With all of the comments about teeth, there must have been something that could have been connected to that?

Anonymous said...

Pleasurable read that reminded me of the series. Loved "hearing" these beloved characters reciting fresh lines.

The continuity issue has been mentioned...Pole dancing and strippers seemed out of time and likely to have been censored.

The characters were all consistent except for Alan Brady. As broadly written and played, AB wouldn't have felt the need to cook up meals as a thank you to his host. He would truly believe he was doing them a favor with his presence. Still weighing whether he would have been that magnanimous by buying Laura a new car. Seems to me his ego would have led him to offer a couple of comp tickets to his next stand up gig. And I just can't get out of my head that Brady would have rented out an entire floor of a swanky hotel to keep the press at bay.

Still it was great to see how a professional writer tackled this project. Thank you.

Matt said...

Graeme,

For a fee I am happy for you to farm out the pole dance research to me. But naturally much of it will have to be on site.

Brule Eagan said...

What a delight. What a pleasure. What a treat that was!

Wayne said...

Wonderful over all. A real delight.

Laura's reaction at end could've been "Oh, Rob!"

Carolyn said...

i waited to comment till i read the whole show- i have to say other than being pulled out time a few times- you nailed it. now turn that in to one of the networks ....

thomas tucker said...

Excellent. I agree- I'm hearing voices in my head. But that's probably because I have watched every episode of DVD about 8,000,000 times. One clunky sentence I would change: "She's going to ask for all the things you borrowed back." Would chane it to: "She's going to ask you to give back all the things you borrowed."
That is all.

Dan said...

This whole script is great just for Buddy's teeth joke.

Jim R said...

Awesome job! Loved it from start to finish. I've seen every DVD episode and this is a classic fit!

Mike Barer said...

Talk about artistic license, in real life, Rob would be the talent and Alan the writer.

Mister Charlie said...

I waited until the final installment to speak. Excellent attempt, you can 'hear' the voicings and vocal rhythms matching perfectly to each character. A lot of good jokes.

The only false note to me (in the third installment) was Alan buying Laura a car, it just seemed way out of character for him (to me). He was never that generous; yet I see now how the car was an important piece of the story structure, so...

No less a leap of logic than the last broadcast show (the cowboy fantasy).

Excellent recreation of a new DVD script, though!

benson said...

To follow up on yesterday's discussion of Carl Reiner...he tweeted this a few minutes ago. It's the cover to his new DVD book.

https://twitter.com/carlreiner/status/624292230602334208

Michael said...

Thanks for posting this, Ken. I enjoyed reading it.

A couple of questions:

1) What do "reset" and "continuous" mean, as in

RESET TO:

INT. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

Do these terms always appear together, or can one appear in a script without the other?

2) There was contention here and there in the comments sections about out of character behavior. Rob saying something someone thought Rob would never say or Alan doing something someone thought Alan would never do. Do these types of disagreements ever come up in the writers' room and, if so, how do you resolve them?

Thanks.

Gerry said...

Funniest line in the script: "Cuba."
Except for everything else!

Anonymous said...

Cuba?????

MikeK.Pa. said...

Really enjoyed it. In a future post would like to read about the construct of the script (i.e., what came first - idea of Alan having to hide out at the house followed by book-ending the car crash with the new car gift, Ritchie riffing jokes with Alan and then Buddy as foils, etc.). Would really be helpful to read how a comedic mind works.

Ted said...

Alan is based on 50s TV comedy greats like Caesar, Gleason, Phil Silvers etc. I've read that those guys had a flair for the Big Gesture - like maybe, on a whim, ordering a new car for the head writer's wife - at 6 in the morning! Nothing in this episode is out of character for Alan. What Ken has done is add dimension to a character who only appeared a few times each season and, though always hilarious, was also mostly one-dimensional.

Cheryl Marks said...

Ken,
You really got it!
It seem so very "real"
My only quibble is the stripper bit seems a bit too racy for the show.
But then was your goal to write a spec for the show in the 60's or for today?

Southfield_Bob said...

I'll ask the question about the elephant in the room--where's David Isaacs? I thought Levine-Isaacs was a writing TEAM, like Lennon-McCartney, not like Paul post-Beatles.

Like many have said, I could see (in B&W) the actors of the DVD saying these lines as I was reading them...with some jarring references that took me out of 1965. I won't belabor going over them again, even the new ones that were in today's installment. Just one comment on Part 4. I think Rob should have responded that he makes a nice living writing jokes and doesn't really mind Ritchie getting paid, but that since he is, he could buy the groceries for the family next week. I really do appreciate the effort and craft that went into this. This is the best entertainment/sports/radio dj blog and I usually check it out at 9am EDT as soon as that day's installment is posted.

The "refrigerator moment" for me was--what happened in the car accident? It was just a "Here we are in sunny Spain" drop-in that was never explained or fleshed out. A setup without a payoff.

I look forward to Persky and other people's comments.

Southfield_Bob

Dan Reese said...

It was great fun reading a new episode of my all-time favorite show, written by the best of the generation that followed Persky/Denoff, Marshall/Belson, et al.
I think the character you really nailed was Buddy. Every line felt spot on.
I, too, struggled with Alan. I don't think he ever showed himself to be remotely generous or having any qualities of a nice guy. I don't think he'd ever cook for anyone and I think it was out of character for him to give Laura a car. In "Happy Birthday and Too Many More" he gave Ritchie a pony for his birthday, and it was only rented for two hours. In "My Husband is the Best One" Rob was having lunch with a reporter writing an article on Alan, and when Rob reminded Laura that Alan was paying for the lunch she responded with a surprised "really?!" that prompted the reporter to ask "Why did you say that, is he cheap?"
More troubling for me is that the overall plot seems perhaps too similar to "The Redcoats are Coming," when a British Invasion teen idol duo hides from swarms of screaming fans by secretly spending the night in the Petries' guest room. Part of the storyline involved making sure Millie didn't find out because she'd spill the secret. Also there were already two episodes where Laura discovered the kitchen destroyed by someone who cooked a meal for them-- house painter Vito Giotto in "Give Me Your Walls" and Maria the young Spanish maid in "Turtles, Ties and Toreadors." Just some thoughts.
But I did enjoy the script and found lots of funny lines and scenes that felt true to the style of the show. Bravo!

charlottesometimesnot said...

So THIS is what it's like when an Emmy-winner writes fan fiction! ;-)

WONDERFUL to get to hear these characters' voices again. :') It's like discovering a long-lost episode! Thank you so much for doing this, Ken. And for sharing it with all of us ungrateful blog readers. For free.

Can't wait to hear all about your process tackling this script. And to find out what the show's REAL writers have to say about your spec. :D (My teeth are chattering nervously/excitedly on your behalf!)

charlottesometimesnot said...

PS. You know, kid, you keep at this and you might just have a future in television comedy writing.

Breadbaker said...

First, this was quite enjoyable, and being of the right age, very evocative of a show I watched religiously in first run and avidly in reruns in various formats. As a Dick Van Dyke Show story, that was an excellent effort.

Second, there was some criticism of the critiquing of Ken ("Emmy-award winning writer"), which I don't think was fair. If Ken has taught us anything (and he's also a "noted teacher of television comedy writing") it's that any writer bringing a story and a first-draft script to the writer's room assumes he will need to defend every joke and every situation. If it doesn't make people laugh, it's ruthlessly cut. If it's implausible or out of character, it's fixed to make it both. Far brighter and more talented people than we have done that to Ken and he's of course asked two of the all-time greats to do the same here. But he wouldn't have posted these without expecting, inviting and welcoming comments.

Third, I agree with many of the critiques of the stripper situation. So let me, not an aspiring comedy writer but a longstanding consumer of comedy, offer an alternative. Mel comes in with the photograph and simply tells Sally and Buddy, "Look at the two women in this photo with Alan." Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam by their body language can tell us everything we need to know about what it's the photo. Then Mel says, "And he told them they were his nieces." Cut to Alan saying, in his high-strung, king of comedy voice, "They were my nieces."
Sally: You don't have any brothers or sisters.
Alan: I have a brother-in-law.
Sally: He's a Roman Catholic priest.
Alan: Then who am I to judge him?

Artie Breyfogle said...

This is CBS!

Unknown said...

Is this a typical script for a 1/2hr show? Never saw a script before, wonder if this would stretch (or shrink) for a "typical" 1/2hr show. I know now there are more commercials. But hey, back then, you could have the commercial IN the show (I remember the one where Rob and Laura were selling cigarettes). "You know Rob, I really like this new Samsung S5 phone, I would NEVER loan it to Millie!" "The messes you have to clean up in the kitchen Laura, the S5 is perfect! Just wipe it clean, and it will be just like new!"

Hamid said...

Yeah, I agree that there was some of that "how DARE you insignificant creatures criticize the great Ken Levine" attitude on here from some of his, well, let's just say, more dedicated fans.

But the thing about all the critiquing is that Ken made it clear that this isn't a "first draft." That he had no intention of rewriting and sorting through the tons of notes and objections he got over this and that from our end. So it was all a pointless kind of feedback. It was more a personal exercise that he just chose to share with us, to write a "Dick Van Dyke Show" script, get feedback from Bill Persky and possibly others who actually worked on the series to see what they thought of it. We weren't actually a part of the exercise. We were just being allowed to look in on it.

thomas tucker said...

Oh.
Never mind.

Joshua said...

I love those old cast commercials. There's a "Dick Van Dyke Show" one I've got on a compilation of old TV commercials where Laura shows up at Rob's office and is just furious because she saw him talking with a cute chorus girl. Rob explains, though, that she just asked for a cigarette, and he gave her one of his Kent Cigarettes. Well, Laura understands that completely. Kent Cigarettes are too good not to share! Just has me rolling in the floor every time I see it. Rob, Laura and Sally, all standing around having this discussion about the joys of Kent Cigarettes.

Max said...

Fake Hamid seriously needs to get a life and a good dose of meds. Guy needs help.

estiv said...

Ken, if a miracle were to happen, the stars became aligned, and the remaining members of the original cast were to perform this script, even if just at a table, I recommend you take the place of the late Morey Amsterdam as Buddy. An experienced TV comedy writer who's a constant wisecracker...typecasting.

Also, this script prodded me to see what had happened to Ann Morgan Guilbert. I always thought the grandmother was one of the best things about The Nanny, but had no idea it was the same actress who played Millie Helper.

Leo said...


I think "Fake Hamid" has a life, devoted to getting under your skin, which he seems to be succeeding at doing.

When you ignore trolls, they eventually go away. When you respond, even if you think you're being cute and clever and really slamming them, you're giving them exactly what they feed on. Trust me, if you ignore the guy, as hard as that may be to do, he'll get bored when he sees he's not getting a rise out of you and he'll go away and find people to annoy on another forum somewhere. That's how these guys work.

Just an observation.

cadavra said...

Hate to be a nitpicker, but if they were bleeping "damn" on "The Tonight Show"--and they were--there's no way in heck it would have been permitted on a prime-time sitcom!

Johnny Walker said...

Pain pill addiction? Pole dancing? 1965? :)

Ha, just kidding, I loved it! Thanks for sharing that, Ken! I look forward to reading Bill Persky's comments next week when I find the time (and am hopeful that Carl Reiner eventually gets back to you).

On a more critical line of thinking: I wonder if bringing Millie into the story again at the end of Act 1 could have lead to a stronger "Hey Mae" moment. No idea how you'd drag out the story from there in Act 2, though.

Loved it, though. You really captured all the voices so well. It really felt like I was watching a new episode, and I loved the sub-plot with Richie and the jokes. Thanks!