The Dick Van Dyke Show 50th Anniversary Edition: Fan Favorites
by Jef Burnham
Available September 20, 2011 on DVD from Image Entertainment.
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Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Dick Van Dyke Show by revisiting some of the classic series’ most iconic and hilarious moments in this five-DVD set from Image Entertainment. Included here are 20 episodes of this 15 Emmy Award-Winning, 1960’s sitcom, packaged with a wealth of special features and a collectible lenticular card. Whether or not these 20 episodes truly represent the best the series had to offer is of course debatable, but I can assure you that there isn’t a single clunker in the whole bunch.
If you’ve somehow managed to go your whole life without encountering The Dick Van Dyke Show (and I’m not exactly sure how that’d be possible), the series follows Rob Petrie (Van Dyke), a comedy writer and family man who, like all sitcom dads, just can’t seem to ever get things right. The always terrific Van Dyke, whose superb comic timing and uncanny physicality could carry an entire series on their own, is joined by an equally brilliant supporting cast including Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, and Morey Amsterdam. And the series was created and often written by Carl Reiner!
What surprised me, not having revisited the show since my childhood, is just how well the humor holds up, again thanks to a wonderful cast headed by Van Dyke, as well as a creative writing staff. That Rob and a number of the other characters are comedy writers or comedians is the perfect setup for a sitcom because it allows for a more natural integration of the comedy. Thus, we find ourselves able to relate more to the characters, who are then just normal people doing what they do best. The only parts of the series that really don’t hold up, in my opinion, are the scenes with precocious little Richie Petrie, which always come off as forced and usually more than a tad disgustingly wholesome. But fortunately, the precocious kid is far from the focus of the series.
Of the 158-episode series (collected in its entirety in Image’s 25-disc Complete Series box set), the following 20 are collected here:
The visual presentation of these episodes here is pristine. Of course, there is a bit of debris present, but this is due to the age of the original elements. Special features in this set include the original pilot episode Head of the Family starring Carl Reiner as Rob Petrie, the making of the sci-fi spoof episode “It May Look Like a Walnut,” interviews with cast and producers, rehearsal footage, a clip from Diagnosis Murder featuring Rob Petrie, Dick Van Dyke sings the show’s theme song at The Hollywood Bowl, and clips from the Emmy Awards honoring the series.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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