Widower Sheriff Andy and his son Opie live with Andy's Aunt Bee in Mayberry NC. With virtually no crimes to solve, most of Andy's time is spent philosophizing and calming down his cousin Deputy Barney.
Widower Steve Douglas raises three sons with the help of his father-in-law, and is later aided by the boys' great-uncle. An adopted son, a stepdaughter, wives, and another generation of sons join the loving family in later seasons.
Rob, Buddy and Sally write for the Alan Brady TV show under the thumb of Brady's brother-in-law Mel. Rob and Laura live in new Rochelle next-door to Jerry and Millie. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
The most famous image of the opening credits is of Van Dyke falling over an ottoman as he enters his living room. However, a second version, showing him sidestepping the piece of furniture instead, was also used. The two openings were filmed back to back and were used randomly throughout the last four seasons of the series. The first season used a completely different opening credits sequence featuring still pictures. See more »
Going on 45 years, Dick Van Dyke Withstands as the Best of the Best
If there was ever a show that seemed an unlikely candidate to be regarded years later as a masterpiece of TV comedy, it would have to be the Dick Van Dyke Show (TDVDS). And younger viewers who happen upon it while cycling through their many cable channels might not give it a chance when they see the banal-looking living room of Rob and Laura Petrie that looks like it was furnished by K-Mart, or the office of the comedy writers of the Alan Brady Show which looks more like a waiting room at a dentist's office. But behind the veneer of what looks like a vanilla-clad suburban cliché is actually a little TV wonder boasting biting wit, outlandish circumstances, and perpetual unstoppable humor. This was the show that the likes of The Brady Bunch or Happy Days aspired to but could never ever hope to attain.
There are three reasons why The Dick Van Dyke is the best and not to be missed: The writing, the writing, and the writing. It all starts with the genius of Carl Reiner who did what all young writers are told to do at the beginning of their careers: write what you know, and Reiner did just that. He wrote about the life of a comedy writer, which is what he was. For years he was one of the writers for two of Sid Caesar's shows: "The Caesar Hour" and "Your Show of Shows" from the 1950's. And when he created the Dick van Dyke Show he re-created much of what he had experienced as a comedy writer and layered it into this new sitcom.
When Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) is not at home with his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), he is the head comedy writer of a fictional television show, The Alan Brady Show. His fellow comedy writers are Sally Rogers (Rose Marie) and Buddy Serrell (Morey Amsterdam), and his boss Alan Brady occasionally appeared played by Carl Reiner, the producer of the Dick Van Dyke Show in real life. Even the premise seems tame at first.
Why does this show work? What Reiner did was take a scenario that seems rather hum-drum on the outside, and then gradually take the characters into unchartered territory simply for the purposes of entertaining TV audiences for 30 minutes (well really 22 minutes). There are many standout episodes, but some of the best involve Alan Brady, the self-centered star and boss of The Alan Brady Show who could give Atilla the Hun a run for his money. One episode, which has become a TV classic, involves Laura accidentally revealing on national TV that Alan Brady wears a toupee, and how Rob and Laura must jump through hoops to soften the damage. Another episode equally as hilarious recounts when the comedy writers, Rob, Sally, and Buddy, are mad at Brady and decide to write an insulting script about him with the intention of discarding it without Brady seeing it. Of course, it ends up falling into Brady's hands! The comedy writers then go on a wild goose chase trying to get it back before he reads it! You'll be rolling over the floor with this one.
Another ingredient, often overlooked, is the comic genius of Morey Amsterdam. Amsterdam, as the other comedy writer, improvised many of his caustic biting sarcasm that gives the needed edge to scenes at the office. Often, Mel Cooley, Brady's lackey, is the butt of much of Amsterdam's cruel humor. Amsterdam was actually a major inspiration to Robin Williams who became Mork of "Mork and Mindy" fame, another show that was inspired by The Dick Van Dyke Show. Check out "the Walnut" episode, and read some of Buddy's dialog under the "quotes" section. Are you sold yet?
Ironically, The Dick Van Dyke is far better than the Sid Caesar shows, which were its parents. Today the Caesar shows come off dated, while the Dick Van Dyke Show continues to gain new audiences, even since the passing of Amsterdam. A strange and wonderful chemistry came together although it was under-appreciated during its original airing. Dick Van Dyke himself became one of the biggest entertainment stars of the 1960's, and Mary Tyler Moore got her own show ten years later, and twenty years after that was nominated for an academy award for "Ordinary People". But the Dick Van Dyke Show reigns supreme as possibly the funniest show ever produced by American television, much funnier than even "Saturday Night Live". As for THE funniest show ever to air on television, you have to go overseas because the award for that goes to "Monty Python's Flying Circus".
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