Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Dick Van Dyke Show – The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
the-dick-van-dyke-show-season-4-blu-ray-largeNow you can enjoy the complete fourth season (airing 1964-1965), all 32 episodes in their entirety and in spectacular high-definition – direct from the 35mm negatives!  Be there as Laura gets her toe caught in a bath spout in the unforgettable episode “Never Bathe on a Saturday,” a sleep-deprived Rob tries to stay awake during his job interview with Alan Brady in “100 Terrible Hours” and Don Rickles is a klutzy thief who tries to rob the Petries in a stalled elevator in “4 1/2 ” then enlists them to entertain in “The Alan Brady Show Goes to Jail.”  ”The Dick Van Dyke Show”: The Complete Fourth Season is loaded with Blu-ray exclusives including: TV Academy tribute to Carl Reiner featuring Dick Van Dyke, Ray Romano and Brad Garrett, Rose Marie, Larry Mathews and more, Mary Tyler Moore’s appearance on “The Danny Kaye Show.”  Also included are audio commentaries with Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke and Garry Marshall, Emmy Award telecast clip featuring the cast, original network promo spots, and more!


Show (5 out of 5 stars) 

I was very happy to get the chance to review this set as “The Dick Van Dyke” show is one of my favorite shows of all time and I know that I’m not alone in that opinion.  During its run, it earned fifteen Emmy Awards, and it’s currently ranked as number fifteen out of the fifty greatest shows of all time by TV Guide.  The show was created by Carl Reiner based on his experiences when he was a writer for Sid Caesar’s “Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.” Writing about what he knew, Reiner dreamed up a series about a television comedy writer named Rob Petrie and his family and fellow writers.
Traditionally, comedies during this time only focused on the home life of the characters but “The Dick Van Dyke Show” broke that tradition by following Rob to his crazy workplace where along with his funny and off-kilter co-workers Sally and Buddy, all write for a comedy program called “The Alan Brady Show.”  A lot of people assumed that the character of Alan Brady (who Reiner played in the show) was based on Sid Caesar, but Reiner later clarified that the arrogant and difficult to work for Brady was based more on “Milton Berle [who] was notorious for yelling at his crew and ordering people around. It was an amalgam of him, several other characters and Jackie Gleason, who really was mean to his writers. I assiduously keep telling people it wasn’t Sid.”
Another interesting fact about the show is that it originally was called “Head of the Family” and it starred Reiner himself as Rob Petrie.  The pilot didn’t go well but producer Sheldon Leonard told Reiner that he was the only thing holding it back and that if he would just recast the Rob Petrie part and focused on writing and producing the show, then it would sell.  Reiner swallowed his pride and hired Dick Van Dyke to play Rob which he later said was the right decision as anything that the writers asked him to do, he couldn not only do it, but do it even better than they had envisioned.  Van Dyke wasn’t the only actor perfectly chosen for the show as every other role was so well cast that the show seemed destined to be a hit.
Mary Tyler Moore was recommended by Danny Thomas who had almost cast her as his daughter on his own show and although she wasn’t known as a comedienne at the time, she quickly became one of the funniest in the business. The chemistry between Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore is still palpable and I couldn’t imagine a better pairing than the two of them.  They each had a crush on each other and although they never acted on it, that undercurrent of attraction and love really powered the show.  Well, that and the constant laughs that were generated by the incredible scripts which were delivered with laser precision by the cast.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this show had one of the finest casts in history and that includes each of the supporting roles too.  Morey Amsterdam as Buddy Sorrell the self described “human joke machine,” was always fun to watch as was Rose Marie as Sally Rogers.  The laughs kept coming no matter what they were doing in the office as it was always funny. Watching them trying to write a show or how Buddy amused himself by insulting Alan’s assistant Mel (Richard Deacon), there’s always some laughs to be found.  It’s that balance of fun between Rob Petrie’s work environment and his home life (which are equally appealing) that really made watching the show fun. Because of that, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” offered us an idealized world that we all would love to be in which may be part of the reason why it’s still so effective.
Who wouldn’t want to laugh all day at work and come home to a young and beautiful Mary Tyler Moore and a precocious son?  Rob Petrie had it all, a great job, a gorgeous and funny wife, fun friends and neighbors, and what made it all work was the fact that Dick Van Dyke is so damn likable that you don’t even resent him for it.  Rob was a klutz and so endearing that you couldn’t begrudge the man his good fortune.  Not only that, but you rooted for him because he was such a nice and decent man.  I can’t emphasize that fact enough, because no one else could have played Rob Petrie better than Van Dyke.  The role is so tailor-made for him that it still remains the one he is the most identified for (even more than his role as Bert in Mary Poppins), and the one he was born to play because as he later said, “Rob Petrie is who I really am – in personality and general ineffectiveness.”
I’ve never understood why the show ended after five seasons when it was still going strong, but years afterwards Van Dyke told Esquire Magazine that “At the very beginning of ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’, Carl Reiner said, Five years – if we go that long.  He thought it would get repetitive after that.  So after five years, everybody knew it was over.  The writing was brilliant.  It was a perfect ensemble.  We were the top-rated show.  Nobody wanted to leave.  But we all knew it was over because of what Carl said at the beginning.”  It’s a shame because the show was just as good as when it started and I would have loved to have even more episodes to enjoy.  Fortunately though, I have this fourth season to cheer me up as this season has plenty of laugh out loud episodes to keep a smile on my face with classic episodes like “Never Bathe on Saturday,” “The Case of the Pillow,” “100 Terrible Hours,” and more.  Who am I kidding?  Even the worst episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” are better than anything else on television.  If you don’t believe me, then just check out the show and see just how good it is!
Here are the episodes that are included in this season set:

My Mother Can Beat Up My Father

Episode: 095 | Aired: September 23, 1964
Laura proves herself more proficient than Rob in the art of self-defense. Guest star: Ken Berry.

The Ghost of A. Chantz

Episode: 096 | Aired: September 30, 1964
Rob, Laura, Sally, and Buddy spend a frightening night in a haunted cabin at a mountain resort.

The Lady and the Babysitter

Episode: 097 | Aired: October 07, 1964
Rob and Laura are unaware that their teenage babysitter has a crush on Laura.

A Vigilante Ripped My Sports Coat

Episode: 098 | Aired: October 14, 1964
Rob’s friendship with Jerry is almost destroyed in a row over a neighbor’s crabgrass lawn.

The Man from Emperor

Episode: 099 | Aired: October 21, 1964
When Rob is offered a job as humor consultant on a magazine for men-about-town, he runs into misgivings from Laura.

Romances, Roses, and Rye Bread

Episode: 100 | Aired: October 28, 1964
Sally is romanced by a secret admirer–the owner of Monker’s Delicatessen.

4 1/2

Episode: 101 | Aired: November 04, 1964
Rob and Laura are on their way to see Laura’s obstetrician when they are trapped in a stalled elevator with a hold-up man. Don Rickles guest-stars.

The Alan Brady Show Goes to Jail

Episode: 102 | Aired: November 11, 1964
The Alan Brady writers entertain at a prison and Rob gets locked up with the inmates. Don Rickles guest-stars.

Three Letters from One Wife

Episode: 103 | Aired: November 18, 1964
Rob risks his job when he convinces Alan Brady to do a cultural documentary program. Carl Reiner guest-stars.

Pink Pills and Purple Patients

Episode: 104 | Aired: November 25, 1964
Laura takes two pink pills and suffers disastrous side effects.

It Wouldn’t Hurt Them to Give Us a Raise

Episode: 105 | Aired: December 02, 1964
The Brady writers press for higher salaries and find themselves tangled in a maze of interlocking corporations.

The Death of the Party

Episode: 106 | Aired: December 09, 1964
Rob struggles through a party for Laura’s relatives rather than admit he is sick as a dog.

My Two Show-Offs and Me

Episode: 107 | Aired: December 16, 1964
The prospect of being the subjects in a national magazine story brings out the egotistical worst in Rob, Sally, and Buddy.

Stretch Petrie vs. Kid Schenk

Episode: 108 | Aired: December 30, 1964
Rob is forced to squelch the scheme of an opportunistic old friend.

Brother, Can You Spare $2500?

Episode: 109 | Aired: January 06, 1965
Rob receives a ransom demand of $2500 for his lost television script.

The Impractical Joke

Episode: 110 | Aired: January 13, 1965
Rob resorts to psychological warfare to get even with a practical joker.

Stacey Petrie (Part 1)

Episode: 111 | Aired: January 20, 1965
Rob’s younger brother becomes romantically involved with Sally.

Stacey Petrie (Part 2)

Episode: 112 | Aired: January 27, 1965
Stacey Petrie tries to save his new coffeehouse from closing and his romance from ending. Carl Reiner guest-stars.

Boy #1 Versus Boy #2

Episode: 113 | Aired: February 03, 1965
Laura and Millie become unbearable stage mothers when their sons are cast in a television commercial.

The Redcoats Are Coming

Episode: 114 | Aired: February 10, 1965
The Petries are invaded by a horde of teenagers when they entertain two British rock-and-roll idols.

The Case of the Pillow

Episode: 115 | Aired: February 17, 1965
Rob becomes a trial lawyer to prosecute a shifty salesman. Ed Begley guest-stars.

Young Man With a Shoehorn

Episode: 116 | Aired: February 24, 1965
When he invests in a shoe store, Rob learns that a shoe clerk’s lot is not always a happy one.

Girls Will Be Boys

Episode: 117 | Aired: March 03, 1965
The Petries face a problem when Richie is beaten up by a pretty little girl who loves him.


Episode: 118 | Aired: March 10, 1965
Rob learns that a song he wrote with an old buddy is about to be a hit, and he starts a fight over authorship rights.

Your Home Sweet Home is My Home Sweet Home

Episode: 119 | Aired: March 17, 1965
Rob recalls the time he and his best friend tried to buy the same house.

Not Now, Anthony Stone

Episode: 120 | Aired: March 24, 1965
Sally’s new tall, dark and handsome boyfriend is secretive about what he does for a living.

Never Bathe on Saturday

Episode: 121 | Aired: March 31, 1965
The Petries’ romantic second honeymoon becomes a disaster when Laura’s toe gets caught in a bath spout.

A Show of Hands

Episode: 122 | Aired: April 14, 1965
Just before they are due at a formal banquet, Rob and Laura accidentally dye their hands an indelible black.

Baby Fat

Episode: 123 | Aired: April 21, 1965
Rob helps Alan Brady by rewriting a play starring the comic. Carl Reiner guest-stars.

100 Terrible Hours

Episode: 124 | Aired: May 05, 1965
Rob recalls his job interview with Alan Brady near the end of an arduous keep-awake marathon.

Br-rooom, Br-rooom

Episode: 125 | Aired: May 12, 1965
Rob buys a motorcycle and is arrested as a joy-riding delinquent the first time out.

There’s No Sale Like Wholesale

Episode: 126 | Aired: May 26, 1965
Rob and Laura learn that buying a fur coat wholesale can be trouble when their “connection” is Buddy Sorrell.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

I think the biggest surprise for fans of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” will be just how amazing the picture quality for the show is on Blu-ray.  This 1080p (1.33:1) transfer was restored from the original 35mm negatives and boy does it look good!  Having watched this show during reruns, I was shocked at how much better the show looked.  This is a pristine looking transfer with barely any signs of how the show actually is.  There’s an occasional scratch and a few speckles during these thirty-two episodes but this looks like a brand new show.  It’s obvious that some DNR was used but they did it very well as there’s still plenty of detail to be found onscreen.  Image Entertainment has done an incredible job with this release and the video quality for this set is reason enough to buy this on Blu-ray.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars) 

The original monaural soundtrack for this season of the “Dick Van Dyke Show” doesn’t measure up to this set’s stellar video quality, but it is a solid effort that doesn’t let the show down.  This DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track doesn’t offer much range but it does provide some very clear dialogue and music.  Every once in awhile you can hear some crackle and other age related defects, but they are few and far between.  In all honesty, this is probably the best the show is going to sound and I’m happy enough with the results.

Extras (5 out of 5 stars) 

This set has a ton of great extras although some of them aren't where you might expect them. While there is a traditional special features section on each of these discs, there’s also commentaries and cast and creator remembrances spread out across the three discs in the episode selection screen.  Once you select an episode you will get more options to choose from including: “Remembering Don Rickles”, Remembering the Pink Pills”, “Remembering ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’, as well as commentaries for “Baby Fat” and “Never Bathe on Saturday” with Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke, a second ‘Baby Fat’ commentary by Garry Marshall, as well as “Remembering ‘Baby Fat’”, and “Remembering the Motorcycle.”  There’s also some pictures included for select episodes.
Disc 1:
  • Mary on the Danny Thomas Show – Mary Tyler Moore talks about how auditioning for Danny Thomas’ show “Make Room For Daddy”  led to her being cast as Laura Petrie.
  • TV Academy Tribute to Carl – Dick Van Dyke – This clip starts out with Carl Reiner talking about how the show came about before Dick Van Dyke joins him to discuss the show, the cast, and some of the episodes.
  • TV Academy Tribute to Carl – Ray Romano and Brad Garrett – The former stars of “Everybody Loves Raymond” offered their small tribute to Reiner and the show through a fun skit together.
Disc 2:
  • DVD Exclusive Award: The Dick Van Dyke Show: Season One (Best Overall DVD, TV Program) - The first season of the “Dick Van Dyke Show” deservedly won the Best Overall Television DVD set.  Set producer Paul Brownstein and Van Dyke accept the reward.
  • TV Academy Tribute to Carl – Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, Bill Persky – Rose Marie lets us know how she got the role of Sally Rogers without even auditioning.  Larry got his role because he was the best kid that auditioned that didn’t have any experience.  Bill Persky shares stories about taking over the show when Reiner went to do movies and how Reiner handled a pushy network exec and also a writer that refused to acknowledge that he was bald by coming over his three hairs that were about six feet long.
  • Diagnosis Murder: Dr. Sloan Meets Rob Petrie – A short clip where Dr. Sloan sees a young Rob Petrie being a D.J. through split-screen footage.
  • Dick Sings the Theme Song at the Hollywood Bowl – Dick Van Dyke joins Mary Tyler Moore at the Hollywood Bowl to sing the lyrics to the show that Morey Amsterdam wrote with his a cappella group the Vantastix.
Disc 3:
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show Remembered – This is my favorite extra on the set as it really goes into detail about the show that lasts almost forty-seven minutes.  There’s interviews with just about everyone involved in the show, even those that are sadly no longer with us.  This special is hosted by Charles Kuralt in the rebuilt living room of the Petries and he does a nice job recapping what made the show so special but at the end of this he lets the show speak for itself with a brilliant montage of some of the show’s best moments.
  • Emmy Awards (1964 – 1965) Outstanding Program Achievement in Entertainment – We get to see Carl Reiner accept the Emmy award for the show.
  • Nick at Nite Promos – Dick Van Dyke agreed to do several intros for the show for Nick at Nite and they have been included here.

Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Few shows have enjoyed the longevity of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and even less have been as influential and loved as it.  It was perfectly cast and it made its stars Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore into household names.  Van Dyke would go on to star in movies and later more television shows and Mary Tyler Moore would create her own show which ended up being another classic favorite.  Reiner would go on to make some great movies and become an author.  Image Entertainment has done a great job restoring this show for fans and I can’t say enough about how good it looks.  While the audio isn’t up to today’s standards, it’s still acceptable and clear and the special features are all excellent and varied.  Even after all of these years, this show still stands out as one of our finest moments in television which is even more apparent in this age of reality television.  If you’d like to see an extremely funny show that combines wit, slapstick, vaudeville, singing, dancing, and non-stop jokes, then you should check out this set right away!
 Order your copy today!


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