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A half-century ago, in New Rochelle...
October 10, 2011 8:14 PM   Subscribe

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the debut of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (chosen "All Time Favorite Sitcom" by the readers of a blogger who used to Write and Produce M*A*S*H and Cheers, fergunisakes), there was a salute/reunion staged by American Cinematheque at which series creator Carl Reiner (aka Mel Brooks' straightman) told of the genesis of the show (if you have problems with the video, here's someone else's written account of the same thing) and Dick Van Dyke sang (with backup) the never-broadcast words to the show's iconic theme song.

Here's the Dick Van Dyke Show's First Episode (the famous 'ottoman opening' wasn't used until Season 2), the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth. And some "Bloopers".
posted by oneswellfoop (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dick Van Dyke sang the lyrics to the theme song on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me quite a while back. It was astounding to learn that it even HAD words, let alone that he knows them well enough to be able to perform them on demand.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had such a boyhood crush on Laura Petrie...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:23 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


OHHHHHHHH RO-OB
posted by scody at 8:33 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


To celebrate the 51st anniversary of the debut of another CBS show, here's Andy Griffith singing the words to his own show's iconic theme song (also composed by Earle Hagen).
posted by Knappster at 8:34 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know those people who say television rots your brain? I say fuck those people. I was raised by television, and fondly remember developing my night owl tendencies watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Andy Griffith Show, The Patty Duke Show, F Troop, etc. etc. (but really, not a fan of My Three Sons) on Nick at Nite. In fact, I'm pretty sure if I ever see the pilot of Matlock, which guest starred Dick Van Dyke, my mind would shatter.

Also, I don't care how bad his accent was, he can sweep my chimney anytime.

...No, literally sweep my chimney. Maybe hang out and tell some funny stories.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:48 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't know about Dick Van Dyke or Andy Griffith, but I know that the original Star Trek theme song had (never to be sung) lyrics written by Gene Roddenberry so he could get half of the royalties....
posted by dhens at 8:48 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a junior high schooler ("middle schooler" for those with different school systems) in the 1990s, I borrowed and watched my uncle's complete VHS collection of the Dick Van Dyke show and read along in The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book (now available in updated editions). I was a weird kid.
posted by dhens at 8:52 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


So raise your hand if the scene in American Gods where Laura breaks down and promises to be good if dick will just stop hitting her broke your heart even if you never actually saw the show.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Once when I picked up my midwestern mother at Laguardia and was driving her to our house in Connecticut, she asked me "What's so funny about New Rochelle?".

I had no idea what she was talking about and told her as much. She said that when she was a kid, stand-up comedians used to joke about it all the time, like that it was a bad place to be from. "Is it very ethnic, or something?"

It was a couple days later in discussing this with coworkers that I realized New Rochelle was the setting for the Dick Van Dyke Show, and that must've been what she was (almost) remembering.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:53 PM on October 10, 2011


Walnuts
posted by Ber at 8:57 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have been to Westport, where Lucy and Ricky went to die and the place Stepford is based on.


It's as expected.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


*hugs self with auntie mame's Aryan from Darien comment*
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 PM on October 10, 2011



I have been to Westport, where Lucy and Ricky went to die and the place Stepford is based on.


It's as expected.


I grew up near there (technically Southport, but I hung out in Westport). It's really nice. Though Martha Stewart did live around there, and then slagged it off in the NY Times Magzine.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:05 PM on October 10, 2011


My wife and I are watching through The Dick Van Dyke Show on Netflix, and I'm frequently struck by how incredibly well it holds up. Buddy and Sally are consistently quite funny, and Mary Tyler Moore is incredible; I had no idea it could be that funny to watch someone cry. While a lot of plots make it quite clear that I'm watching an old TV show (Laura has her own BANK ACCOUNT? That can only lead to trouble), the show doesn't seem dated in a way that a lot of shows that came after it do.

Then, of course, they do a half hour long spoof of The Twist that features like ten minutes of actual dancing, or Dick van Dyke steps off set to hawk laundry detergent, and the illusion is broken.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:07 PM on October 10, 2011


One of the times I've laughed hardest at a tv show was the Dick Van Dyke show. The episode involved Laura staying home alone -- I suppose I related to it too well. There is some humor that in universal and it seems that this show hit that at least a few times.
posted by backwords at 9:18 PM on October 10, 2011


Both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke were amazing comedians and it shines through dated and trite material.
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 PM on October 10, 2011


( my husband just literally sat there through hours of the show, cause it was on TV Land for the 50th and he was too sick to move or change the channel, and he said it was funny, but very dated, and he loved the haircuts )
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 PM on October 10, 2011


Both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke were amazing comedians and it shines through dated and trite material.
posted by The Whelk at 12:19 AM on October 11 [+] [!]


That may be true, but it strikes me as a well constructed show; when they set something up there's almost always a very satisfying payoff. It wouldn't work without Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke but I think the writing is pretty solid, too. I also don't have enough of a sense of television before that to know whether or not the material is trite; were these tropes created by the show or was it using ideas that were already dated? Overall I'm surprised at how unselfconsciously I can enjoy the show; I'm not sitting there thinking "wow, I really enjoy this old show, how impressive of me" or whatever (something I could well do), I just like the show.

Except for Richie. That kid is a huge pain in the ass.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:25 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well it wasn't awful, it wouldn't have survived if so, it was a soild comic writing with two big, capable talents in it, no one remberes the cancelled shows.
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 PM on October 10, 2011


Because I watched this show as a kid, every time I come home I have an irrational fear of tripping over an ottoman. Screw you, Dick.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:36 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually really loved the show. You can watch the episode Turtle, Ties, and Toreadors. According to IMDB:
In the tag scene, Rob brings home a turtle on which Maria painted Rob's, Laura's and Richie's faces. It faded out with a close-up of the turtle and Rob saying "as long as this turtle lives, we'll be immortal". This was a last-minute edit as the original line was "we look just like the Kennedys". John F. Kennedy was still alive when this was filmed, but not yet aired. It was still being prepared for broadcast when the president was assassinated, so broadcast was delayed a few weeks, and the line about the turtle's longevity was inserted.
Those were simpler times. They really are immortal, and they really did look just like the Kennedys.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:53 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Back in the olden days, I used to get high and watch that show. I could crawl in Laura's head and practically predict what she was going to say. I started empathizing with her and having to live with some dipshit who ALWAYS tripped over that damn ottoman.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:02 AM on October 11, 2011


Dick's still got it.
posted by Megami at 12:36 AM on October 11, 2011


Nick at Nite once ran a whole series of promos featuring lyrics which (mostly) fit otherwise wordless TV themes. I'm probably paraphrasing, but the Dick Van Dyke one went something like
Diiiick Vaaaan Dyke is Robert Petrie
Who comes home
Hugs Laura
And accidentally trips over that thing

But sometimes he doesn't do that
Because
They changed it
He skirts around it with a nifty step

And there's yet another version
He sidesteps
The ottoman
Then ironically stumbles on the rug

Then Rob and Sally and Buddy shake hands
And the episode title comes up (obscuring Richie)
And you'll notice Rob shakes hands with Buddy again.
I have a hard time believing this didn't come from the show's writers. It's meta enough to sound like just the thing they would have claimed were the lyrics if someone asked.
posted by Spatch at 12:50 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


My first advice in IT phone support is what (according to Rob) Laura's aunt used to do with her toaster: unplug it and shake out the excess electricity.
posted by hal9k at 4:05 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke were amazing comedians and it shines through dated and trite material.

Wait 50 years and let me know if you can say anything remotely similar about, say, The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:45 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only thing I dislike about the show is that these days I relate to Sally a little too much.
posted by JanetLand at 5:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's have a round of applause for Laura Petrie's pants... nobody, before or since, has worn capris better.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:58 AM on October 11, 2011


Hey, speaking of Sally, did you know she did stuff long before TV? (Yup, that's really the same person!)
posted by kinnakeet at 5:59 AM on October 11, 2011


Head of the Family pilot on Hulu (note: "limited commercial interruption" apparently means they show two commercials, then the opening credits, then two more commercials).
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 AM on October 11, 2011


So there were ordinarily unheard lyrics to the theme songs of a half-dozen shows (Bonanza being another, not yet mentioned). How common was this practice? Was it a way of staking a claim on potential royalties or just an easy gag for the writers?

After spending an evening watching TV themes on YouTube not long ago, I realized how few contemporary shows have memorable themes. The Law & Order franchise is about the only (more or less) current TV series I can think of with (a) memorable theme(s). (And whose unheard lyrics go like this.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:47 AM on October 11, 2011


In the theme song video, I barely even recognized Dick Van Dyke until he made that awesome, unmistakable grin.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2011


Just like The Whelk's husband, we watched several episodes of the DvDS over the weekend during the TV Land marathon. I don't know if Richie was always supposed to be at the neighbor's house, but after the credits, we never saw him.

(and yes, both my husband I were impressed by Laura Petrie's capri pants.)
posted by pinky at 8:54 AM on October 11, 2011


Oh fuck you Spratch, now you've got that stupid ad for I Dream of Jeannie set to Tom's Diner stuck in my head. Damn it.

Oh, and if there's an episode without Ritchie, I'm pretty sure he's just hiding in a cabinet somewhere. That kid is always hiding in cabinets.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:43 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


unheard lyrics to the theme songs of a half-dozen shows (Bonanza being another, not yet mentioned)

I'm sure they're unofficial, but the lyrics I always sing to that theme song are:

I have a horse, do you have a horse?
Bo-Nan-Za!
I have a horse and you need a horse
Let's go get a horse to-day!
posted by hippybear at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2011


So there were ordinarily unheard lyrics to the theme songs of a half-dozen shows...

Hawaii Five-O [sung by Sammy Davis Jr as God intended]
posted by mazola at 3:05 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and:

Perry Mason / Perry Mason / He nabs the crooks in court / 'cuz he's too fat to chase 'em
posted by mazola at 3:25 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know about Dick Van Dyke or Andy Griffith, but I know that the original Star Trek theme song had (never to be sung) lyrics written by Gene Roddenberry so he could get half of the royalties....

Morey Amsterdam wrote the lyrics; so said Van Dyke on NPR. I don't know whether he made money on them or not.
posted by bryon at 8:22 PM on October 11, 2011


dated and trite material [?!?!!?!?]

WTF??????? I'll tell you what show is dated and trite already. Last week's episode of that new show Whitney.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:31 PM on October 11, 2011


Don't be silly. Everyone knows (or should) that these are the real lyrics to the theme song.
posted by cereselle at 9:47 AM on October 12, 2011


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