The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show was created by comedian Carl Reiner, who also played the part of the character Alan Brady. Dick Van Dyke
starred as Rob Petrie, the head writer for the show-within-a-show, The Alan Brady Show. His wife Laura (a former dancer whose
maiden name was Meehan) was played by Mary Tyler Moore in her breakthrough role. They lived with their son Ritchie at 448 Bonnie
Meadow Road in New Rochelle,
New York. The show was not too terribly popular in its first season but soon thereafter became a solid hit.
In the second season's opening credits, Van Dyke cemented his reputation as TV's most agile physical comedian by tripping spectacularly over the Petrie's living room ottoman. Two alternative versions of the opening were filmed with Van Dyke missing the obstacle and the three were aired on random rotation. People actually used to place bets on whether or not Dick would fall.
Working with Rob were two other co-writers, the husband-hunting Sally Rogers and the perpetually wisecracking Buddy Sorrell. Their nemesis at the office, and the butt of much humour, was balding Mel Cooley, the pompous producer of The Alan Brady Show and the brother-in-law of its star.
Also frequently seen were their next-door neighbors, dentist Jerry Helper, his wife Millie, and their young son Freddie. Early episodes often included flashbacks to Rob and Laura's courtship, when Rob was still in the army, the early days of their marriage, and the development of Rob's career.
Classic episodes abound: When Laura got her toe stuck in a hotel bathtub; when Rob dreamed about ever-present walnuts; an alien
with no thumbs that looked like Danny Thomas....
The show won four outstanding comedy Emmys and decades after the hit show left the air, fans still think of Dick Van Dyke as a fall guy.
The final episode was the perfect parting shot - Throughout the entire series Rob had been writing a book and now it was finally finished. It's Rob's autobiography, focusing primarily on his career as a writer for a TV comedy/variety show. Alan Brady (played by Carl Reiner, remember) considers that the story would make a great sitcom, and who could be better than he as its star and producer? Art imitating life imitating art!
Van Dyke returned though to TV in 1971 with The New Dick Van Dyke Show playing Dick Preston, the host of a TV chat show. But would Dick still fall over something for us? The last word came from Mr Van Dyke himself: "I can still do it, but now it hurts".