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The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom which initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961 until June 1, 1966. There were 158 episodes plus one reunion telecast.  The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. A three-camera/studio audience format was used during production. The series was primarily sponsored by Procter & Gamble and, as an "alternate sponsor" beginning with the second season, Lorillard Tobacco Company (Kent cigarettes). The cast sometimes appeared in "integrated commercials" for their sponsors at the end of the show.

The show was also produced by Reiner, who wrote many episodes and played the role of Alan Brady. Many of the show's plots were inspired by Reiner's experiences as a writer for Your Show of Shows, but though he based the character of Rob Petrie on himself, Rob's egocentric boss Alan Brady is less Sid Caesar (host of Your Show of Shows) than a combination of the more abrasive Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason, according to Reiner himself. The Dick Van Dyke Show won 15 Emmy Awards.

he two main settings show the work and home life of Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head writer of a comedy variety show filmed in Manhattan. Viewers are given an "inside look" at how a TV show (the fictitious The Alan Brady Show) was written and produced. Many scenes deal with Rob and his coworkers, writers Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie). Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon), a balding straight man and recipient of numerous insulting one-liners from Buddy, was the show's producer and the brother-in-law of the show's star, Alan Brady (Carl Reiner). As Rob, Buddy, and Sally write for a comedy show, the premise provides a built-in forum for them to be making jokes constantly. Other scenes focus on the home life of Rob, his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), and son Richie (Larry Mathews), who live at 148 Bonnie Meadow Road in suburban New Rochelle, New York. Also often seen are their next-door neighbors and best friends, Jerry Helper (Jerry Paris), a dentist, and his wife Millie (Ann Morgan Guilbert).

The show was an excellent vehicle for Van Dyke's physical comedy and sight gags. The classic example is the scene in the opening titles, in which Van Dyke enters through the front door and trips over the ottoman. (This opening was added beginning in the second season of the series. The first season's opening credits were a composite of promotion stills and screen grabs from the pilot episode.) Producers filmed three versions: one in which Van Dyke trips over the ottoman, one in which he steps around it, and a rarely seen third variation in which Van Dyke avoids the ottoman and then trips on the carpet.

The series was considered a trailblazer for its comparatively realistic portrayal of relationships — although the Petries slept in separate beds — and caused some mild controversy because of Mary Tyler Moore's decision to wear capri slacks in an era when most sitcom wives wore dresses and skirts, even though Lucille Ball had previously worn capri slacks on I Love Lucy. The show would also lampoon current cultural trends of the times, like a new dance craze called the Twizzle. One of the most popular episodes, "It May Look Like a Walnut", spoofed The Twilight Zone and low budget sci-fi films, especially Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When the British Invasion led by The Beatles came, real life British singing duo Chad and Jeremy guest starred portraying the fictional Redcoats. Curiously, The Beatles were never mentioned by name and there were very few references to current events during the show's five-year run. Carl Reiner was also adamant about avoiding the use of any 1960s slang.

During its run The Dick Van Dyke Show overpowered many competitors. In 1964, it quickly eclipsed Mickey Rooney's sitcom Mickey, which aired on ABC in the same time slot.

Throughout the series, Rob is shown working on his memoirs, a retelling of his life after he met his wife Laura. In the series finale, Rob finishes the book and submits it for publication. When he is rejected, Alan Brady offers to produce it as a television series—after his variety series concludes—with Alan starring as Rob. This brings the series full circle, as the pilot episode featured Reiner as Robert Petrie.

Reiner always maintained that he never intended for the series to run more than five seasons, making this one of the first successful American TV series to end on its own accord rather than through cancellation.


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