Having G-men use their house to stakeout a neighbor brings out the little boy in Rob, who eagerly wants to insinuate himself in the spy game.

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Sally Rogers (credit only)
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Buddy Sorrell (credit only)
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Ritchie Petrie (credit only)
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Harry Bond
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Mr. Gerard
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Mr. Phillips (as Biff Elliott)
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Storyline

It's the beginning of a three day weekend for Rob, and his already giddy mood is heightened even further when Mr. Phillips, a federal agent, stops by wanting to use their house as a stakeout post to watch the goings-on of their neighbor, Mr. Gerard. It isn't Mr. Gerard they are after, but his criminal nephew. Laura doesn't like the idea of their house being used for a stakeout, but Rob thrives on the idea of a little excitement. Believing it's for the public good, they agree, and Agent Harry Bond is sent. While Laura generally feels nervous with both Harry in the house and with a criminal possibly in their neighborhood, Rob can't help but get in Harry's way as he tries to act the spy. When a little trouble may finally be brewing at Gerard's house, Rob may have to get involved in the surveillance, as Harry is suffering not only from over-exposure to Rob, but a massive toothache. Written by Huggo / edited by statmanjeff

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Genres:

Comedy | Family

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Release Date:

20 April 1966 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is based on the spy thriller TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964). See more »

Goofs

It's been mentioned in numerous episodes that the Helpers live next door to the Petries. Yet in the episode it's mentioned that the Helpers live across the street. See more »

Quotes

Harry Bond: I'll be right with you so there won't be any trouble.
Rob Petrie: Okay. What-what's the gun for?
Harry Bond: So there won't be any trouble.
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Connections

References The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Van Dyke Show's Foray into the Spy Craze
31 December 2015 | by (Ukiah, California) – See all my reviews

Comedian Fred Allen once quipped that "Imitation is the sincerest form of television." His observation certainly held true through the mid-to-late 1960s, when "Dr. No" begat "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," and the success of "U.N.C.L.E." in turn inspired dozens of imitators. Sometimes they were whole new series (think "Mission: Impossible," "I Spy," or "Get Smart"), and frequently a "spy" episode of other series that were not oriented that way, whether "My Favorite Martian" or "Please Don't Eat the Daisies." Not wanting to be the last on the block to go down that path, "The Man from My Uncle" was the "spy episode" of the "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and it's one of the series' high points.

Though in its fifth season, the Van Dyke Show was showing no signs of strain, and this episode has as much or more to say about the fantasies of middle-aged men as anything about intrigue and skulduggery. The rather down-to-earth premise is that the U.S. Government has information that a relative of the Petries' neighbor may have returned to the U.S. following deportation, and they want to use Ritchie's bedroom as an observation post on the man's house. When the federal agent lets it slip that his people are aware that Ritchie is away with the cub scouts, and Laura indignantly wants to know how they're aware of that, Rob -- who of course finds the whole situation exciting -- stiffly informs her that "they have ways of knowing those things." Ah, the days when folks just assumed that the government's keeping tabs on them was for the common good!

Laura, of course, recognizes the real reason for Rob's keen desire to cooperate with the government -- pointing out that while he talks about being a good citizen, inside he's a little boy jumping up and down saying, "Goodie, goodie, cops and robbers!" Though Rob denies this, when Laura gives her assent, his immediate reaction -- "Swell!" -- betrays exactly what she anticipated.

When the agent actually arrives, of course, this interplay is only heightened as Rob can't keep his hands off the gizmos that Federal Agent Harry Bond ("Please -- no jokes") brings with him, including a walkie-talkie, camera, and an innocent-looking banana that turns out to be . . . a banana. (Long about midnight on a stakeout, of course, one is likely to get mighty hungry.)

Still, the real gem in this episode is the casting of Godfrey Cambridge as Harry Bond. Cambridge, who was a stand up comedian in addition to being an actor, had the best timing in the business, and could project both high energy and somberness. When Rob encourages Bond, who has a bad toothache, to stretch out in a rocking chair, Rob later has to confess that he accidentally has taken a picture of Bond reclining when he was supposed to be on the job. Cambridge delivers the responsive line, "Mr. Petrie, why did you do that?" in a mournful tone that only Cambridge could have come up with. Later in the episode, Bond again has to ask Rob to please "stop playing with our equipment," stretching out "equipment" in a world-weary way to what seems like a lot more than three syllables.

Cambridge would soon bring this same mixture of dedication and sadness to a different kind of spy satire in Theodore Flicker's 1967 "The President's Analyst." But his talents are on full display here, and remind us what a loss it was when he died just a decade later at only 43.


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