The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show was an American television situation comedy which aired from October 3, 1961 to September 7, 1966. It starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.

Totalling 158 episodes, it was created and produced by comedy legend Carl Reiner, who wrote many episodes and played the part of Alan Brady. Reiner based the main character on himself, and created many of the show's plots based on his past experience as a writer for Your Show of Shows.



Van Dyke played Robert Petrie, a comedy writer for a fictional New York TV variety series called The Alan Brady Show. Moore played Rob's wife, Laura.


Storylines dealt with Rob and his two coworkers, Buddy and Sally, who wrote material for the TV show. Melvin Cooley, a balding straight man, was the show's producer and brother-in-law of Alan Brady, who was seldom seen. Other stories centered around the home life of Rob and Laura, who lived in suburban New Rochelle. Frequently seen was their young son Ritchie, as well as neighbors Jerry and Millie.


The show was an excellent vehicle for Van Dyke's physical comedy and sight gags. The classic example is the scene in the opening titles, in which Van Dyke enters through the front door and trips over the ottoman. Producers filmed three versions: one in which Van Dyke trips over the ottoman, one in which he steps around it, and a rarely seen third variation in which Van Dyke avoids the ottoman and then trips on the stairs. Viewers were kept wondering which would be used on any particular episode.

The series was considered a trailblazer for its comparatively realistic portrayal of relationships — although the Petries slept in separate beds — and caused some controversy because of Mary Tyler Moore's decision to wear capri slacks in an era when most sitcom wives wore dresses and skirts.

Carl Reiner originally planned to both produce and star in the series, which was originally titled Head of the Family. A pilot episode was made, but it was unsuccessful.

Reiner always maintained that he never intended for the series to run more than five seasons, making this one of the first successful American TV series to end of its own free will, rather than await cancellation. It has been highly successful in syndicated reruns, and as of 2005 airs on the cable network TV Land.

The Dick Van Dyke Show was considered an inspiration for many later sitcoms, in particular the long-running Mad About You, which was in many ways a modern-day remake of the older show. Carl Reiner even reprised the role of Alan Brady for an episode. The relationship between Reiner as writer and Van Dyke as actor also can be compared to that between Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.

Van Dyke returned in 1971 in an unrelated vehicle, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, which despite running for three years is no longer seen, in contrast with Mary Tyler Moore, which became as successful as the original Dick Van Dyke Show.

Other cast members

Reunion special

On May 11, 2004, CBS aired a reunion special, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. Produced by Carl Reiner, who referred to the hour-long special as "The 159th Episode," the show reunited cast members Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, Ann Morgan Guilbert, and Jerry Van Dyke. Reiner reprised his role as Alan Brady. The remainder of the cast, now deceased, were fondly remembered in flashbacks.

References in modern media

The comedy TV series Family Guy had in the first season a short sketch, featuring a violent version of the Dick Van Dyke Show opening sequence. In it, Van Dyke trips over the ottoman, knocks over an ironing board causing an iron to fall onto his face, stumbles into the kitchen, trips over a bucket, smashes his head through an oven door (setting his hair on fire), has his face stabbed with various kitchen utensils and is in the end knocked down by a car.

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