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Dick Van Dyke Show, The Paperback – February 15, 1993
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Contained inside the pages of this tome is a detailed but concisely written history of how the show came about, beginning with Carl Reiner's original idea for a television show titled 'Head Of The Family' with himself in the lead; his redesign and recasting of the show; his working relationship with Sheldon Leonard, Dick Van Dyke and the rest of the cast members and beyond. Also included within is a complete synopsis of all 158 episodes including guest star appearances, a complete script from one of the shows, over 100 photos, an excellent trivia test with answers in the back and a list of all the awards that the show won during it's initial network run.
Long after it first aired in the early 60's 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' still continues to enjoy phenomenal -but not surprising - success as one of the shows currently seen on TV Land as of this writing. I know people ranging from preteen to senior citizens who list it among their favorite TV shows to watch, even favoring it far above contemporary television programming. Nearly all of them are able to recount the series' most popular episodes to any one who will listen as well as recite the memorable lines of dialogue from each one. If you know someone who truly appreciates this show then this book would make an excellent gift; or if you're a fan don't go another day without it!
The 8.5" x 11.0" paperback book (which was originally released in 1983 and revised in 1993) is crammed with many, many top-notch black-and-white photographs; and the colorful front cover (featuring five main members of the show's cast) perfectly captures the fun and spirit of this classic sitcom.
Plenty of quotes from the show's cast and crew members are on tap here too, as they reflect back on the making of the series. An abundant amount of behind-the-camera information is mixed in amongst the wealth of photographs on these pages.
Synopses of all 158 Dick Van Dyke Show episodes are also included in a separate chapter. Plus there's a chapter entitled "That's My Boy?? -- A Milestone In Television History", which includes the entire script of the 64th filmed episode in the series ("That's My Boy??"), which is one of the funniest of all the Van Dyke scripts (which is really saying something, because they're all pretty darn good). That episode, which was expertly written by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff on May 22, 1963, has Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) practically beside himself with worry in the days following his son Ritchie's birth, as he thinks the hospital gave him the wrong baby. A great episode indeed!
This book also contains a 4-page "Awards" section, which details all of the various awards (mostly "Emmys") that "The Dick Van Dyke Show" won, and was nominated for, during its successful five-year tenure on network TV.
There's also "The Dick Van Dyke 500" -- which is a 500-question trivia quiz. Some real brain-busters here, including Question #41: "How much money had Laura put away in her secret bank account (in the episode 'Bank Book 6565696')?" .... Was it: A.) $294.12; B.) $451.02; C.) $378.16; or D.) $398.26? .... Now THAT'S what I call "trivia"! Can you guess the answer? (I knew the answer to that one right off the bat, which probably makes me a certifiable "Van Dyke Show Geek" of the first order. LOL!) :)
This entire volume is very fun to glance through, with the ultimate prize in the package (in my estimation) being the oodles of great pictures (many of which depict "behind-the-scenes" shots of the cast and crew).
Looking through this book again prompted me to type up the following list of some of my all-time favorite "Dick Van Dyke Show" episodes (every single one of which can be purchased on DVD in the previously-mentioned Image Entertainment seasonal boxed sets of the series). .............
My Top 20 "Most Watched Episodes" list would look like this (what would your own personal list look like?):
1.) "All About Eavesdropping" (Season 2 boxed set).
2.) "Harrison B. Harding Of Camp Crowder, Mo." (S.1).
3.) "The Curious Thing About Women" (S.1).
4.) "My Husband Is A Check-Grabber" (S.2).
5.) "Empress Carlotta's Necklace" (S.1).
6.) "Never Bathe On Saturday" (S.4).
7.) "A Nice, Friendly Game Of Cards" (S.3).
8.) "Punch Thy Neighbor" (S.1).
9.) "Ray Murdock's X-Ray" (S.2).
10.) "The Sick Boy And The Sitter" (S.1).
11.) "The Night The Roof Fell In" (S.2).
12.) "The Ghost Of A. Chantz" (S.4).
13.) "A Man's Teeth Are Not His Own" (S.2).
14.) "The Case Of The Pillow" (S.4).
15.) "The Two Faces Of Rob" (S.2).
16.) "Pink Pills And Purple Parents" (S.4).
17.) "That's My Boy??" (S.3).
18.) "The Impractical Joke" (S.4).
19.) "Coast-To-Coast Big Mouth" (S.5).
20.) "My Blonde-Haired Brunette" (S.1).
Overall Favorite Seasons -- Season 1 and Season 2. (Although all 5 seasons are excellent, as all Van Dyke Show fans can attest.) :)
Something I thought of recently while watching the "Vic Damone"/"Ric Vallone" episode (titled "Like A Sister") --- during the entire course of the Dick Van Dyke Show series, creator/writer/producer Carl Reiner (plus the other top execs, Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard) never once exploited the "showbiz" angle of the Van Dyke series. What I mean by that is -- Carl & Company never felt the urge to cave in to the "Lucy Show Syndrome", and therefore very seldom brought in major movie stars of the day as guest stars to play off of the rest of the cast.
The "Let's get a big-name guest star on the show every week" scenario could have easily been done (and with a built-in "realism" as well, due to main character Robert Petrie working in show business on a popular variety show). From what I've read regarding the series, many big stars would drop by the show's soundstages to shoot the breeze. It seemed to be the "in" place to be in Hollywood. Well, at least one of the "in" places at any rate.
And I'm guessing that if he would have wanted to bow down to such ratings pressures, Mr. Reiner (et al) would have had no trouble at all garnering many major movie stars as guests on "TDVDS".
I'm very glad, however, that Reiner decided not to go the "Lucy Show" route for bigger ratings or for prestige value (or whatever) -- because relying on the great regular cast was a much better plan, IMHO.
And I find it interesting, too, to note that even when "TDVDS" *did* occasionally include a guest star to sing or dance on the fictional "Alan Brady Show", you'll note that the guest actor was always of a somewhat lesser-known stature, with character names created for them -- such as the aforementioned "Ric Vallone" used instead of Vic Damone's real name. ... And "Jacques Savon", and "Tracy Rattigan", and "Paula Marshall".
I often wonder how good the show would have been if Carl Reiner *had* decided to include huge-name guest stars each week (playing themselves), like on Lucille Ball's shows -- with people like John Wayne, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis, and Jerry Lewis popping in every week to make an "Alan Brady Show" appearance.
I, for one, am just as content and satisfied with the likes of "Janie Layton", "Henry Walden", "Jim Darling", "Valerie Blake", "Max Calvada", "Randolph Eisenbauer", and "Harper Worthington Yates". Plus, of course, the first-rate regular cast members, who didn't need to play second banana to anybody, IMO. :)
In closing, let me just state --- "I haven't had this many laughs since the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre!" ** :)
** = Dialogue from the episode "All About Eavesdropping".