I just bought this set (along with Season 2) and can’t say enough good things about it. First, when Image says the episodes are “restored” — they mean it! Picture and sound quality are excellent. Next, these are the FULL-LENGTH episodes, completely unedited. The first episode I played had a scene in the middle of the show that I’d never seen before (not on TV Land, not on Nick at Nite, not in local syndication). Running time of each episode is at least 25 minutes & 30 seconds — wow. Another episode I played even had the original network footage at the beginning, with Dick Van Dyke saying, “Welcome to our new time slot.” Amazing. Then there are the bonus features — audio commentaries (interesting ones!) and new interviews and original TV commercials and Emmy Awards footage and more. Finally, the packaging is very sleek and looks great. Do yourself a favor and buy this. Do ALL “Dick Van Dyke Show” fans a favor and buy it so that Image will release Seasons 3 through 5.
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There’s nothing better or more impressive than a great, old, sitcom that still cracks you up, no matter how old you are. This sitcom makes me laugh *very* hard, and i’m 13. all the slapstick can be enjoyed by the younger group of children while the wittiness, quick timing, and sacarsam will appeal to an older audience. here are the great episodes from the first season.
**** – One of the very best*** – Good** – Not so good* – Unworthy of association with the rest of the series
THE SICK BOY AND THE SITTER (1) – The first episode ever. Laura worries about leaving Ritchie with a babysitter when she thinks he’s sick. *** (NOTE: Mary Tyler Moore’s real-life son was named Ritchie.)
THE MEERSHATZ PIPE (2) – Rob gets jealous when Buddy seems to be getting preferential treatment from Alan Brady. ***
JEALOUSY (3) – Laura doubts Rob’s faithfulness when a beautiful guest star appears on the show. ***
SALLY AND THE LAB TECHNICIAN (4) – Sally ruins a date with Laura’s cousin when she can’t stop wisecracking. ***
WASHINGTON VS. THE BUNNY (5) – Rob agonizes over having to miss Ritchie’s school play. ****
OH, HOW WE MET ON THE NIGHT THAT WE DANCED (6) – Rob and Laura explain to Ritchie how they met. *** (NOTE: In this episode, Laura’s maiden name is Meeker, which was the last name of Mary Tyler Moore’s first husband. In Episodes 59, 87, 131 and 156, it’s Meehan. Rob also says he doesn’t smoke, but in several other episodes, he is clearly seen with a cigarette.)
THE UNWELCOME HOUSE GUEST (7) – Rob takes care of Buddy’s dog for the weekend. ***
HARRISON B. HARDING OF CAMP CROWDER, MO (8) – An old army buddy of Rob’s shows up, but Rob doesn’t remember him. ***
MY BLONDE-HAIRED BRUNETTE (9) – Laura bleaches her hair when she thinks Rob has lost interest in her. ***
FORTY-FOUR TICKETS (10) – Rob forgets that he promised the PTA tickets for the Alan Brady show. ***
TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL (11) – Rob worries that Laura will want to go back to her dancing career. ***
SALLY IS A GIRL (12) – Laura notices that everybody treats Sally like one of the guys, including Sally herself. (We meet Pickles Sorrell for the first time!) ***
EMPRESS CARLOTTA’S NECKLACE (13) – Laura pretends to love the hideous necklace that Rob bought for her. *** (This one only makes sense if you assume that Rob has absolutely NO taste. Also note that Rob’s parents are played by a different actor and actress than usual, and that Rob’s father’s name is Edward instead of Sam.)
BUDDY, CAN YOU SPARE A JOB? (14) – Buddy asks to be released from his contract so he can take a higher-paying job. *** (NOTE: Sally clearly states that Mel married Alan’s sister! In Episodes 146 and 153, it’s the other way around.)
WHO OWES WHO WHAT? (15) – Rob isn’t sure whether Buddy paid back the money he borrowed. ***
SOL AND THE SPONSOR (16) – Rob’s army buddy Sol Pomeroy invites himself to dinner the night that Rob is entertaining his stuffy sponsor. *** (NOTE: Interesting casting here… The sponsor’s wife is played by the actress who sometimes plays Rob’s mother, and Sol PomerOY is played by Marty Ingels, whereas in certain other episodes, the character’s name is Sol PomerANTZ and is played by Allan Melvin.)
THE CURIOUS THING ABOUT WOMEN (17) – Rob gets mad at Laura for opening his mail. ****
PUNCH THY NEIGHBOR (18) – Jerry goes too far when he needles Rob about the Alan Brady Show. *** (NOTE: Rob says that Alan Brady’s wife’s name is Barb. In Episode 153, Mel says that her name is Margaret.)
WHERE DID I COME FROM? (19) – Rob tells Ritchie the story of the day he was born. ***
THE BOARDER INCIDENT (20) – Buddy stays at Rob’s house while Pickles is out of town. ***
A WORD A DAY (21) – Ritchie starts using naughty words. ***
THE TALENTED NEIGHBORHOOD (22) – Rob ends up auditioning every kid in town when the Alan Brady Show announces a talent contest. ***
FATHER OF THE WEEK (23) – Ritchie doesn’t want Rob to talk to his class at school. *** (NOTE: Ritchie’s teacher is played by the actress who often appears as Rob’s mother.)
THE TWIZZLE (24) – Sally discovers a new dance craze. **
ONE ANGRY MAN (25) – Rob is called for jury duty, and he’s the only one who thinks the defendant is innocent. ***
WHERE YOU BEEN, FASBINDER? (26) – An old high school classmate of Sally’s shows up, and she misinterprets the reason for his visit. *** (NOTE: Pickles Sorrell shows up again.)
THE BAD OLD DAYS (27) – Rob begins to think that Laura has robbed him of his masculinity. ***
I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER (28) – Rob’s brother Stacey comes to visit, with a bizarre secret. *** (NOTE: In Episode 11, Rob tells Sally that his brother is married. In this episode, Rob tells Sally that Stacey is engaged. In Episode 111, Stacey announces he is…
The Dick Van Dyke Show is simply a landmark of television situation comedy. It’s treatment of the American family bought the sitcom into the 1960′s. Where I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best were relics of the staid, conservative Eisenhower years, The Dick Van Dyke Show propelled sitcoms into the New Frontier. Audiences now got to see a family that more closely mirrored the situations and concerns of their own lives (even with the inevitable exaggeration of situations that occurs in event the best shows). For the first time, audiences not only got to see where the father figure in a family worked, but that workplace became a focal point for many of the show’s episodes. Fathers and mothers were real people and not the carboard cutouts of Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet or the hysterical cartoon characters of I Love Lucy. A Jewish character was vital, not as a caricature as in previous shows, but as a real, viable character. To be sure, there was the usual lunacy found in most sitcoms, but the humor arose from situations that its audience could identify with and relate to.
However, no innovation introduced by The Dick Van Dyke Show was more important than the modernization of the portrayals of women on television. Mary Tyler Moore’s Laura Petrie isn’t the pretty, but sexless perfect housewife of the 1950′s. She is a sexy, intelligent partner to Dick Van Dyke’s Rob Petrie who is nobody’s fool and is Rob’s moral conscience in many ways — unheard of in the 1950′s. As Van Dyke said during a retrospective on the show, “You knew that even though Rob and Laura slept in twin beds, they were doing something else besides sleeping in that bedroom.” Moore’s tight capri pants and curvaceous figure inspired lust among men (including Carl Reiner’s son Rob, who once touched Moore’s rear end on the set) that was unimaginable just a few years earlier.
But even more importantly, a female character was now a vital part of the humor of a show without being a sarcastic parnter like Alice Kramden, a sterile, smiling mannequin like Donna Stone/June Cleaver/Margaret Anderson/et al or a wild maniac like Lucy Ricardo. What makes this first season DVD set so important is that the viewer can track when the show hits its stride. And, not coincidentally, it hits that stride when the show starts to utilize Mary Tyler Moore’s great comedic talents in the 9th episode, “My Blonde Haired Brunette.”
In the first eight episodes of the show, all of the characters, not just Laura Petrie’s, seem unfinished. However, each character has their identity defined to a great extent (Rob is the father figure who sometimes is given to clumsiness, Buddy Sorrell is the wisecracking veteran writer, Sally Rodgers is the man hungry female writer who uses her sense of humor to hide her loneliness, Mel Cooley is the fussy producer who is the butt of Buddy’s jokes, etc.) The character of Laura, however, seems to be a more modern version of the 1950′s housewife, there to give support, cook breakfast for her family, etc.
In “My Blonde Haired Brunette,” all that changes. Rob plucks a gray hair out of Laura’s head and kids her that she’s getting old. Laura becomes extremely insecure and wonders if Rob is still attracted to her. Encouraged by next door neighbor Mille Helper, Laura dyes her hair blonde for Rob. However, when Rob tells her over the phone that she would look like Harpo Marx if she were blonde, Laura panics and tries to dye her hair back to its natural brunette color, ending up with a head of hair that is half blonde and half brunette. When Rob sees her, Laura starts to cry uncontrollably in what would become a running joke in both the Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore show (Moore is the best comic crier in entertainment history). Carl Reiner has said that that was when he knew how special Moore was and, from then on, Laura was an integral character in the show’s humor, equal to every other character on the show. The humor doesn’t arise from stupid, wacked out antics like on earlier sitcoms, but instead from feelings that everyone has had and can relate to: fear of aging, fear of being unattractive to your spouse, etc. “My Blonde Haired Brunette” is one of the most important moments in television history: the emergence of a more modern, realistic woman and the real debut of Mary Tyler Moore as a comedienne who can inspire laughter by showing her humanity rather than playing the fool.
(NOTE: If you want to see how integral Moore, Van Dyke, and all the rest of the cast was to the success of The Dick Van Dyke Show, be sure to see the pilot for the show called “Head of the Family” which starred Carl Reiner as Rob and Barbara Britton as Laura. The episode is so unfunny that it makes the audience appreciate Van Dyke and Moore’s talents that much more.)