Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Modern Old Sit-Com

For her birthday, Thursday, my mother got the complete Dick Van Dyke Show. One of the the things included on the first disk is the original pilot, Head of the Family, which starred Carl Reiner as Rob Petrie (which was pronounced "pete-ry," like the dish). According to the book that came with the set people, producers I think, didn't like Reiner in the lead role. After watching it, I'm not so sure.

The whole episode had a more cynical tone than what the show changed into. Laura was more sarcastic (and if you've watched the show you know that makes her a lot more sarcastic). Buddy's really neurotic, although his coffee order is the same. Sally's more abrasive. Ritchie's a whiny little shit and hides in cupboards and closets. And Rob's more self-centered and needy. All of this adds up to a family comedy show that's darker than the other sit-coms of 1960. However, it sounded and looked very modern, except for the black-and-white. Like if they cut the laugh track and re-filmed it today it could sit along side 30 Rock.

Still, I'm really happy with Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. Who wouldn't be?


AE said...

There's something to the chemistry between Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore; to me that's what made the show. Sally and Buddy are awesome and interact with each other an Rob really well, but it's the Rob-n-Laura interaction that made the show.

I didn't like the pilot so much; I found Carl Reiner too unlikable in the role. Now, as Alan Brady he really shone; that's the role for him. I also like the name pronounced 'Peh-tree'because it left the line always, ALWAYS for Dick Van Dyke to stutter out the line, 'Ub, uh, Peh-tree' which never failed to crack me up.

And Richie sucks regardless. He just does; what and annoying little shit. I wonder which producer's son / nephew / friend's son / nephew played the character. Awful.

But what a great show. Watch the episode where they tell Richie the story of his birth and tell me you don't laugh out loud during the scene where rob shouts 'IT TIME!'

What a great show; I would kill whitey to own that series!

ticknart said...

I would not trade Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke for anything, I'm just saying that the episode starring Reiner struck me and being very modern. The Dick Van Dyke show, as it is, is funny, but sometimes feels quaint, a shot of its time. It occasionally falls into overly sentimental territory. (Lucy did it, too. Just part of fighting the early "family" television standards.)

Dick Van Dyke's Ritchie may be annoying, but he'd never say that he doesn't like his father, and mean it. That just wasn't done in the '60s, but Reiner did it, and it was funny. And it's funny when I see it on modern shows, too. (Although, to be fair, The Dick Van Dyke Show was willing to have his parents admit that Ritchie wasn't the smartest kid in his class.)

Reiner being unlikable, selfish, conceited, lazy, and brow beaten also seems modern. Van Dyke's Petrie may have his problems, but he goes at it with smiles and charm, Reiner's Petrie would have fought and been frustrated then lost and been angry. Something not done on TV 50 years ago.

I like the show a lot, it's just that there was some great stuff in that first pilot, too.

AE said...

The pilot was very much more akin to modern sitcoms and, although I prefer the final approach to the series, I'd take a sitcom based on it (the pilot) over schlock like, say, Everybody Loves Raymond (comparison between it and the pilot episode of Dick Van Dyke seems reasonable to me) any day of the week.

A few early sitcoms strike me as having more modern humor, too, Doby Gillis, for example, and The Honey Mooners could potentially sit side-by-side with and stand stand above the crap that's pasted on networks today. They seem less censored than Leave it to Beaver and the like ... then again 'family' shows existed in our youth, too; TGIF was full of some of the worst, crappiest, poorly written-and-acted shows of all time!

The pilot was a rarity, as was the show. The pilot was ahead of its time by years-and-years-and-years while the series was strongly a result of its time. I'm glad you finally got to see it; just another step in making me feel less alone in this universe!

geewits said...

I would love to see that. Sorry I missed your birthday. I had forgotten that you and my husband have the same birthday. I hope you had a good one!

ticknart said...

It was nice, thank Geewits.