I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Pilot Episode: 1960
Season One: 1961-62
1960: The Pilot Episode
Pilot: Head of the Family First Aired:
July 19, 1960
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
Laura's jealousy gets the better of her when Rob begins working overtime
with Alan Brady's gorgeous guest star.
When Mel offers Laura an opportunity to dance on The Alan Brady
Show, Rob worries that she might be tempted back into show business
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.
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
Rob worries about his job security when Buddy and Sally polish off
an entire script while he's out sick.
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.
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.
Buddy and Mel jump to conclusions when Rob decides to start treating
Sally like a lady.
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.
Rob recalls the final frantic days of Laura's pregnancy, which culminated
in her arrival at the maternity ward in a laundry truck.
Unable to control her curiosity, Laura can't resist opening a mysterious
package that contains a large, self-inflating life raft.
Rob gets fighting mad after Jerry thoughtlessly broadcasts his low
opinion of The Alan Brady Show throughout the neighborhood.
Buddy remains oblivious to Rob's efforts to collect an old debt.
When Alan Brady announces a juvenile talent competition, Rob is besieged
by pushy stage mothers and their would-be child stars.
Rob and Laura are disturbed when Ritchie's vocabulary expands to include
a small glossary of four-letter words.
Rob invites Buddy to spend a few days at his house while Pickles is
out of town.
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
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.
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
Jerry Lanning sings "The Twizzle," written by pop tunesmiths Mack
David and Jerry Livingston.
Laura is convinced that a pretty face has tipped the scales of justice
when Rob--on jury duty--sides with the attractive defendant.
Sally pins her romantic dreams on Leo Fassbinder, an old acquaintance
she hopes will arrive to brighten a lonely birthday celebration.
Rob knows something's wrong when his brother arrives telling jokes
and singing songs--shy, retiring Stacey Petrie acts that way only when
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.
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.
Rob rebels against Laura's domestic tyranny after Buddy convinces him
that he's become hopelessly henpecked.
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.
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.