Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman (1969)

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7.9
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An enchanting variety special which reunites Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in song and dance. Numbers include "On The Other Hand", "Life Is Like A Situation Comedy", "Food Medley", "Do You Love Me?".

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Title: Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman (1969– )

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An enchanting variety special which reunites Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in song and dance. Numbers include "On The Other Hand", "Life Is Like A Situation Comedy", "Food Medley", "Do You Love Me?".

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13 April 1969 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Why isn't this available on video?
30 October 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Following her brilliant co-starring performance in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', Mary Tyler Moore's career went nowhere. She starred in a couple of flop movies. Her big Broadway break (as Holly Golightly in a musical version of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' ) was so bad, it closed before it opened. When Moore was reunited with her former tv husband for the 1969 musical special 'Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman', it was clear to everyone that Van Dyke was the star attraction. Ms Moore's participation was treated as a 'Whatever happened to...?' reappearance by someone who had briefly been popular, once. In the event, Mary Tyler Moore (and her producer husband, Grant Tinker) came out of this one-off special looking so good that she soon got her own sitcom on the same network.

'Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman' was aired twice on CBS-TV in America. I saw it in Britain, when BBC1 transmitted it on 4th Sept 1969. This special is great! Dick Van Dyke's talents as a song-and-dance man have always been underrated. He opens the show with an athletic number, 'On the Other Hand', in which he interacts with several different life-sized photo cutouts of Mary Tyler Moore, each depicting her as a different type of woman (kittenish, sophisticated, etc). Throughout the song's lyrics, Van Dyke keeps identifying Moore as a 'girl': I guess this word is easier to lyricise than 'woman'. The last cutout turns out to be Mary Tyler Moore herself. This leads into a dumb bit which purports to be documentary footage of Van Dyke and Moore meeting on a soundstage for the first time since their sitcom was cancelled. They run towards each other in slow motion. Van Dyke collides with a rack of costumes and emerges wearing a long floppy frock. (Another of Dick Van Dyke's underrated talents is his rare ability to cross-dress for a casual joke, without turning it into an elaborate drag routine.) Van Dyke and Moore then dismiss rumours that they were a married couple in real life, and Moore mentions that her real husband (at that time) is a tv producer named Grant Tinker: he was quite obscure in 1969, but he would soon become well-known.

Mary Tyler Moore's feminist credentials were firmly established at this early date. She leads a dance number as a suffragette, performing 'It Was Good Enough for Grandma' with a chorus of women in Gay Nineties costumes. (The choreography for this is rather poor: the women strut across the stage with their buttocks thrust upwards to emphasise their bustles!) During the intro to this number, Mary quotes Abigail Adams and insults our intelligence by telling us who Abigail Adams was. (When I saw this show in 1969, I had never been to America yet, but even *I* knew who Abigail Adams was.) Next, Mary performs 'Rosie the Riveter' with the same she-chorus crawling across the stage clutching jackhammers.

Dick and Mary do a sketch about 'persons, places and the ever-popular things'. This is quite good until we get to the old, old, OLD joke about the typical American family with 2.5 children ... so Dick and Mary appear with an onscreen 'son' who is (via trick photography) a living fraction.

In the midst of all this, we see an outtake from a 'Dick Van Dyke Show' episode that never made the air. The closing number finds Dick and Mary in a ski lodge, singing a medley of songs with lyrics about food and drink. One of these songs is the Andrews Sisters' hit 'Rum and Coca-Cola': I was disappointed that nobody mentioned that the lyric for this song was written by Morey Amsterdam, who performed so memorably as Van Dyke's sidekick on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

Following her own sitcom success, Mary Tyler Moore made her official Broadway debut in a serious play, 'Whose Life Is It Anyway?', in a role originally written for a male. Her brief run was not distinguished, and she soon returned to Hollywood. At that time, I was working for the Broadway showman Alexander Cohen, who produced the annual Tony Awards on CBS-TV. Recognising that Moore's presence would bring in tv viewers, Mr Cohen wanted Mary Tyler Moore to return to New York to serve as a presenter during the 1980 Tony Awards ... but she was reluctant to appear in a context that would only draw attention to her own recent failure on Broadway. Alex Cohen pulled a few strings and, hey presto!, suddenly it was announced that Mary Tyler Moore would receive a 'special' Tony Award for some unspecified reason. She showed up at the 1980 Tonys to receive her award, and Alex Cohen's televised special got the high rating he'd wanted. For the next several weeks, I got lots of attention in the Broadway community by asking people this riddle: 'What's Mary Tyler Moore's favourite pasta? Rig a Tony!'

'Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman' is a delightfully entertaining show, which I'll rate 10 out of 10. Why isn't this show available on video?


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