The Dick Van Dyke Show: Season 01 (1961)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Sitcom [TV]  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |  
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The first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show finds all the familiar ingredients firmly in place, even if they haven't completely jelled yet. Dick Van Dyke is given ample opportunity to show off his genius for physical comedy in the role of Rob Petrie, head writer for TV's "The Alan Brady Show." Morey Amsterdam is already delivering a fully-rounded characterization as Rob's coworker, "human joke machine" Buddy Sorrell, while Rose Marie has got a lock on her character as Rob's other coworker, bachelor gal Sally Rogers, a heady combination of salty sarcasm and wistful pathos (especially in her efforts to land the "perfect fella"). Additionally, Larry Mathews is as good as he'll ever be as Rob's son, Ritchie Petrie. Curiously, Mary Tyler Moore plays the role of Rob's wife, Laura, as a much younger, more petulant and less mature character than she'd be in subsequent seasons, as indicated by the fact that Rob refers to her as "Laurie" in many scenes. Also, she isn't given much of an opportunity to display her own considerable comic prowess -- with the spectacular exception of her riotous performance in the episode "The Blonde-Haired Brunette," in which she goes into hysterics while trying to explain to her husband why her hair has been dyed half-blonde, half-brown. (Significantly, Mary Tyler Moore has cited this as her favorite episode.) And to a lesser extent, Laura Petrie is showcased in "The Curious Thing About Women," wherein she comes to grief by trying to peek into a mysterious package that has been delivered to Rob (it contains an inflatable life raft). Interestingly, in the last-mentioned episode, semi-regular Ann Morgan Guilbert (as Millie Helper) is very obviously pregnant; however, nothing is ever said again about her condition or its possible outcome. Like Mary Tyler Moore, Richard Deacon hasn't completely gotten a handle his character, "Alan Brady Show" producer Mel Cooley during season one. In fact, he comes off as something of a comic villain, superciliously putting down the literary efforts of the writing staff, and thus fully deserving of the insults laden upon him by quick-witted Buddy Sorrell. In later years, Mel would mellow into a more likeable character, as the role of heavy was shifted to boss Alan Brady (who is never seen full-face during the first season, though he is obviously being played by series creator Carl Reiner). Of the series' first 30 episodes, several stand out, most notably "I Am My Brother's Keeper" and "The Sleeping Brother," which comprise a two-part story introducing the character of Rob's neurotic brother Stacey Petrie -- played by Dick Van Dyke's brother Jerry Van Dyke. Literally dying in a suicidal Tuesday-night slot opposite Laramie and Bachelor Father, The Dick Van Dyke Show might have completely disappeared from view after its first season had not one of its sponsors picked up the series for a second year -- and in the bargain, insisted that CBS locate a better time slot. (Which it definitely did!)



family-dynamics, husband-and-wife, career, comedy, neighbor, writer