Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The best thing that ever happened to The Dick Van Dyke Show was The Beverly Hillbillies. After languishing in a low-rated Tuesday night slot throughout its first season, Dick Van Dyke was moved to Wednesday during season two -- with Hillbillies, CBS' number one attraction, as its lead-in. Though ratings did not immediately skyrocket, "word of mouth" helped to build a large and loyal audience for Dick Van Dyke -- and by the time its second season had ended, the series had climbed to the number nine berth in the overall ratings. In many ways, the most exciting aspect of the series' first season had been the matriculation of co-star Mary Tyler Moore from just another pretty ingénue to gifted comic actress in the role of Laura Petrie, the wife of TV comedy writer Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke). By the time season two rolls around, Moore is as poised and confident as any of her more experienced co-stars, who in addition to Dick Van Dyke include Rose Marie as Sally Rogers, Morey Amsterdam as Buddy Sorrell, and Richard Deacon as Mel Cooley. The Dick Van Dyke Show's second season is an embarrassment of riches, yielding some of the series' all-time best episodes. Among these are "Never Name a Duck," in which Rob and Laura Petrie can't convince their son, Ritchie (Larry Mathews), to give up his ever-growing pet duck, Stanley; "My Husband is Not a Drunk," a tour de force for Dick Van Dyke as he deftly switches from cold sobriety to falling-down inebriation and back again as the result of a post-hypnotic suggestion; "What's in a Middle Name," wherein Ritchie is given a long, convoluted, but ultimately logical explanation as to why his middle name is "Rosebud"; "It May Look Like a Walnut!," an outrageous Twilight Zone-esque affair capped with a guest appearance by the series' executive producer, Danny Thomas; "Give Me Your Walls!," featuring the inimitable Vito Scotti as an extremely eccentric house painter; "I'm No Henry Walden!," in which series creator Carl Reiner cameos as a pretentious poet named Yale Summers; and "When a Bowling Pin Talks, Listen," the story of how an innocent suggestion from Ritchie nearly results in a major lawsuit for "The Alan Brady Show." Best of all is "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals," a showcase for the musical talents of the principal players, topped by a classic Laurel and Hardy imitation with Dick Van Dyke as Stan and Henry Calvin as Ollie. Nominated for Emmy Awards in four categories during its second season, The Dick Van Dyke Show copped an "outstanding directing" statuette for John Rich.
family-dynamics, husband-and-wife, career, neighbor, writer