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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Pilot Episode: 1960
Season One: 1961-62




"HEAD OF THE FAMILY": 1960
SEASON ONE: 1961-62

SEASON TWO: 1962-63

SEASON THREE: 1963-64
SEASON FOUR: 1964-65

SEASON FIVE: 1965-66

CREDITS
EMMY AWARDS

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1960: The Pilot Episode

Pilot: Head of the Family    First Aired: July 19, 1960
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: Don Weis
Guest Stars: Carl Reiner, Barbara Britton, Gary Morgan, Sylvia Miles, Morty Gunty, Jack Wakefield, Milt Kamen, Nancy Kenyon
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Comedy writer Rob Petrie tries to convince his skeptical son that writing for TV is as exciting as the jobs held by any of the other kids' dads.

A better-than-average one-camera sitcom, Carl Reiner's prototype for The Dick Van Dyke Show was no more than a rough blueprint for the series that followed, so direct comparisons are unfair--if irresistible. Reiner's aggressive interpretation of Rob Petrie as a slightly confused--but well-intentioned--dad is not without its charm, though there's far less warmth in the office scenes than we would later come to expect. And the romantic sparks that would soon ignite Rob and Laura's domestic interplay are almost entirely lacking in this embryonic version.

The episode, which aired on CBS's Comedy Spot anthology series, also starred Barbara Britton as Laura, and Gary Morgan as a surprisingly winning Ritchie Petrie; Morty Gunty and Sylvia Miles played Buddy and Sally; and Jack Wakefield essayed the positively demonic Alan Sturdy.

Stuart Rosenberg and Martin Poll were the credited producers, and Bernard Green composed the musical score.


1961-62: THE FIRST SEASON

Year-End Rating: 16.1 (80th place)

The triumphs and struggles of TV writer Rob Petrie and his wife, Laura, are chronicled in a first season of exceptional scripts written or supervised by Carl Reiner, who will shepherd the series through its first three seasons as head writer, story consultant, and producer.

Sheldon Leonard serves as executive producer throughout each of the show's five seasons, and Ron Jacobs is associate producer for the entire run. John Rich signs on as regular director, and he will continue to direct most episodes through the show's first two seasons. Jay Sandrich is assistant director in the first year.


1 The Sick Boy and the Sitter    First Aired: October 3, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: Sheldon Leonard
Guest Stars: Mary Lee Dearing, Barbara Eiler, Stacy Keach, Sr.
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Rob talks Laura into going to a party at Alan Brady's apartment, even though she'd rather stay home and look after their ailing five-year-old.

Rob and Laura Petrie emerge as believable human beings from the very first episode, as we watch them argue, cook liver, and fret about leaving their boy with the baby-sitter--just like real people. They also share a physical attraction that was remarkably frank for television, a direct result of Carl Reiner's refusal to let the couple telegraph their devotion in words. In five years, the pair rarely uttered the words "I love you" onscreen--because they never had to.


2 My Blonde-Haired Brunette    First Aired: October 10, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Star: Benny Rubin
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Laura dyes her hair blonde to rekindle Rob's interest after she becomes convinced that the romance has left their marriage.

Confronted with a disastrous dye job and a thoroughly confused husband, Laura finally breaks down and sobs her exasperation in a string of barely coherent phrases that communicate her poignant needs in a seemingly indecipherable code. Finally, at her wit's end, she collapses in Rob's arms--and somehow, he gets the message loud and clear. And so do we.

This script was actually the ninth episode filmed, but the producers scheduled it to run in the second week to better spotlight the quickly emerging talents of Mary Tyler Moore. As Reiner told a reporter for TV Guide, "It was obvious from the first that we had accidentally stumbled on a kid of twenty-three who could do comedy."


3 Sally and the Lab Technician    First Aired: October 17, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Eddie Firestone, Jamie Farr
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Laura plays matchmaker for Sally--with disastrous results--when she pairs the talkative comedy writer with her shy cousin.

The first episode filmed by John Rich, the series's regular director through the start of the third season. A veteran director of Our Miss Brooks and scores of TV westerns in the 1950s, he had a knack for getting involved with classic comedies; a decade later he would direct four years of All in the Family, and he was also a key figure in the genesis of Barney Miller.


4 Washington Versus the Bunny    First Aired: October 24, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Jesse White, Jamie Farr
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Rob is plagued by fatherly guilt when he's forced to take a business trip on the night of Ritchie's debut in the school play.


5 Oh, How We Met the Night That We Danced    First Aired: October 31, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: Robert Butler
Guest Stars: Marty Ingels, Glenn Turnbull, Jennifer Gillespie, Chickie James

Rob recalls his frustrated attempts to date Laura when she was a USO showgirl and he was an over-eager sergeant in the Special Services.

The saga of the Petries takes on an epic quality in the first of many flashback episodes that describe significant moments in Rob and Laura's life together.


6 Harrison B. Harding of Camp Crowder, Mo.    First Aired: November 6, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director:John Rich
Guest Stars: Allan Melvin, Peter Leeds, June Dayton

Rob is too embarrassed to admit that he doesn't remember the mysterious stranger who arrives and claims to be an old Army pal from Camp Crowder.

Ironically, Allan Melvin actually would play Rob's best Army pal in numerous later episodes. The well-known character actor also held down regular roles on The Phil Silvers Show, Gomer Pyle, and All in the Family, among others.


7 Jealousy!    First Aired: November 7, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: Sheldon Leonard
Guest Star: Joan Staley
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Laura's jealousy gets the better of her when Rob begins working overtime with Alan Brady's gorgeous guest star.


8 To Tell or Not to Tell    First Aired: November 14, 1961
Writer: David Adler
Director:John Rich
Guest Star: Jamie Farr

When Mel offers Laura an opportunity to dance on The Alan Brady Show, Rob worries that she might be tempted back into show business full-time.

David Adler, the first writer other than Carl Reiner to contribute scripts to the series, was actually a pseudonym for Frank Tarloff, a Hollywood screenwriter blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer in the fifties. A decade later, his son, Erik, would be a regular contributor to All in the Family.


9 The Unwelcome Houseguest    First Aired: November 21, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director:Robert Butler

The Petries' plans for a weekend in the country are spoiled after Buddy suckers Rob into looking after his family pet--Larry, a giant German shepherd.


10 The Meershatz Pipe    First Aired: November 28, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: Sheldon Leonard
Guest Star: Jon Silo
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Rob worries about his job security when Buddy and Sally polish off an entire script while he's out sick.


11 Forty-Four Tickets    First Aired: December 5, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Eleanor Audley, Opal Euard, Joe Devlin, Paul Bryar

Rob turns to scalpers as a last resort after he forgets to reserve forty-four tickets to The Alan Brady Show for his local PTA.


12 Empress Carlotta's Necklace    First Aired: December 12, 1961
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: James Komack
Guest Stars: Gavin MacLeod, Carol Veasie, Will Wright

Rob surprises Laura with an unexpected gift--a thoroughly tasteless necklace that she's far too embarrassed to wear.

Gavin MacLeod plays Maxwell, the jewelry salesman, in a role that predates his memorable stint as Murray Slaughter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show by almost a decade.


13 Sally Is a Girl    First Aired: December 19, 1961
Writer: David Adler
Director:John Rich
Guest Stars: Jamie Farr, Paul Tripp, Barbara Perry

Buddy and Mel jump to conclusions when Rob decides to start treating Sally like a lady.


14 Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?    First Aired: December 26, 1961
Writer: Walter Kempley
Director: James Komack
Guest Star: Len Weinrib

When Buddy's plan to leave for greener pastures backfires, Rob and Sally face the difficult task of convincing Mel to let him return.

Director James Komack became a successful TV producer in the 1970s, with a string of hits that included The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Welcome Back, Kotter, and Chico and the Man.


15 Where Did I Come From?    First Aired: January 3, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director:John Rich
Guest Stars: Herbie Faye, Jerry Hausner, Tiny Brauer

Rob recalls the final frantic days of Laura's pregnancy, which culminated in her arrival at the maternity ward in a laundry truck.


16 The Curious Thing About Women    First Aired: January 10, 1962
Writer: David Adler
Director: John Rich
Guest Star: Frank Adamo

Unable to control her curiosity, Laura can't resist opening a mysterious package that contains a large, self-inflating life raft.


17 Punch Thy Neighbor    First Aired: January 17, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Frank Adamo, Peter Oliphant, Jerry Hausner, Peter Leeds

Rob gets fighting mad after Jerry thoughtlessly broadcasts his low opinion of The Alan Brady Show throughout the neighborhood.


18 Who Owes Who What?    First Aired: January 24, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich

Buddy remains oblivious to Rob's efforts to collect an old debt.


19 The Talented Neighborhood    First Aired: January 31, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Doris Singleton, Ken Lynch, Michael Davis, Jack Davis, Barry Livingston, Anne Marie Hediger, Ilana Dowding, Kathleen Green, Christian Van Dyke, Barry Van Dyke, Cornell Chulay

When Alan Brady announces a juvenile talent competition, Rob is besieged by pushy stage mothers and their would-be child stars.


20 A Word a Day    First Aired: February 7, 1962
Writer: Jack Raymond
Director:John Rich
Guest Stars: William Schallert, Lia Waggner

Rob and Laura are disturbed when Ritchie's vocabulary expands to include a small glossary of four-letter words.


21 The Boarder Incident    First Aired: February 14, 1962
Writers: Norm Liebmann, Ed Haas
Director:John Rich

Rob invites Buddy to spend a few days at his house while Pickles is out of town.


22 Father of the Week    First Aired: February 21, 1962
Writers: Arnold and Lois Peyser
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Isabel Randolph, Allan Fielder, Patrick Thompson

Rob is crushed when he's not invited to speak on career day at Ritchie's school because his son is embarrassed to admit how his dad makes his living.

A rewrite of Carl Reiner's pilot script for Head of the Family. In the original, Reiner's Rob Petrie redeemed himself with a clever poem composed for Ritchie's class, but in this version--adapted to emphasize the unique talents of Dick Van Dyke--Rob wins the kids over with an impromptu demonstration of physical clowning.


23 The Twizzle    First Aired: February 28, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Jerry Lanning, Jack Albertson, Tony Stag, Freddie Blassie

Sally drags Mel and the writing staff to a bowling alley to audition her latest discovery--a reluctant pop singer who's invented a new dance craze.

Jerry Lanning sings "The Twizzle," written by pop tunesmiths Mack David and Jerry Livingston.


24 One Angry Man    First Aired: March 7, 1962
Writers: Leo Solomon, Ben Gershman
Director:John Rich
Guest Stars: Sue Ane Langdon, Dabbs Greer, Lee Bergere, Doodles Weaver, Herb Vigran, Herbie Faye, Patsy Kelly, Howard Wendell

Laura is convinced that a pretty face has tipped the scales of justice when Rob--on jury duty--sides with the attractive defendant.


25 Where You Been, Fassbinder?    First Aired: March 14, 1962
Writer: John Whedon
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: George Neise, Barbara Perry

Sally pins her romantic dreams on Leo Fassbinder, an old acquaintance she hopes will arrive to brighten a lonely birthday celebration.


26 I Am My Brother's Keeper    First Aired: March 21, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Star: Jerry Van Dyke
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Rob knows something's wrong when his brother arrives telling jokes and singing songs--shy, retiring Stacey Petrie acts that way only when he's sleepwalking.

Jerry Van Dyke's two-part appearance led to a checkered TV career for the star's younger brother that included starring parts in two sitcoms--My Mother the Car and Accidental Family--and a supporting role on The Judy Garland Show the following season. He later became a household name for his role as Luther Van Dam on Coach.


27 The Sleeping Brother    First Aired: March 28, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Star: Jerry Van Dyke
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Rob's somnambulant brother lands a guest spot on The Alan Brady Show and then wonders how he'll get through the show if he happens to be awake.

Whenever Rob and the gang break into song at a party--which they did quite often, particularly in the early seasons--the show reveals its strong ties to The Danny Thomas Show, which, like I Love Lucy, regularly incorporated music and dancing into its show-biz format. It was a happy coincidence that Reiner ended up filming his show on Danny Thomas's stages, since the writer identified Thomas's program as one of the primary models--along with Leave It to Beaver--that inspired him when he sat down to create his own series.


28 The Bad Old Days    First Aired: April 4, 1962
Writers: Norm Liebmann, Ed Haas
Director: John Rich

Rob rebels against Laura's domestic tyranny after Buddy convinces him that he's become hopelessly henpecked.


29 Sol and the Sponsor    First Aired: April 11, 1962
Writer: Walter Kempley
Director: John Rich
Guest Stars: Marty Ingels, Patty Regan, Roy Roberts, Isabel Randolph

Rob can't bring himself to tell a boisterous old Army buddy that he's not invited to stay for the fancy dinner the Petries are hosting for an important sponsor.

Marty Ingels left the occasional role of Sol Pomeroy to star in I'm Dickens, He's Fenster in 1962. Allan Melvin assumed the role of Rob's Army pal in later episodes.


30 The Return of Happy Spangler    First Aired: April 18, 1962
Writer: Carl Reiner
Director: John Rich
Guest Star: Jay C. Flippen

Rob runs into the old-timer who gave him his first break in show business and makes the mistake of trying to return the favor.

 

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