Recap and React: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ep. 1 – 5

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Welcome to Recap & React, a series in which I re-watch my favorite classic television shows, summing up and sharing my thoughts on each episode along the way! Today our featured series is The Dick Van Dyke Show, and this post will cover the first five episodes of the series.

Rob has to quite literally carry Laura out of the house to make her go to the party. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Rob has to quite literally carry Laura out of the house to get her to go to the party. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

SEASON 1, EPISODE 1: “THE SICK BOY AND THE SITTER”
DIR. SHELDON LEONARD
WRITTEN BY CARL REINER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCT. 3, 1961
Recap: The audience is introduced to Laura and her son Richie, who she believes is sick because he doesn’t feel hungry for a snack. We soon discover that Laura’s husband, Rob Petrie, is a television writer. Rob persuades Laura to leave sick Richie with a babysitter while the two attend a party held by the star of the show Rob writes for, The Alan Brady Show.
Reaction: This episode is a great introduction to the series. Mary Tyler Moore is extremely likable as Laura, the quintessential overprotective mother. In fact, the whole family is likable. They’re a witty bunch dealing with simple, day-to-day problems, so the show provides light, squeaky-clean but highly amusing entertainment.
Favorite line: “He turned down his cupcake? AND YOU DIDN’T CALL AN AMBULANCE?” (Rob)

Rob picks on Laura for having a single grey hair, not realizing how shabby his own outfit looks. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Rob picks on Laura for having a single grey strand of hair, not realizing how shabby his own outfit looks. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

SEASON 1, EPISODE 2: “MY BLONDE-HAIRED BRUNETTE”
DIR. JOHN RICH
WRITTEN BY CARL REINER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCT. 10, 1961
Recap: Laura decides it’s time for a makeover because she feels like her romance with Rob is fading. She decides to go blonde, with… interesting results. Meanwhile, Rob and his writing team try to decipher Laura’s “odd” behavior.
Reaction: Boy, is this episode telling of gender relations in the mid-20th century! Rather than blaming Rob’s lack of attention to her on the fact that he’s tired from working or something of the sort, Laura immediately begins questioning whether she’s getting wrinkles or has somehow lost his attention. Regardless, though, this episode is very funny. Mary Tyler Moore shines, putting a lot of heart into her delivery and succeeding in both making the audience laugh and making us sympathize with her.
Favorite bit: Not dialogue this time, but the fake smile Laura gives to Rob when he asks for a smile with his eggs.

Sally's date accidentally hands her his hat (which she wears in this still) instead of the flowers he brought for her. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Sally’s date accidentally hands her his hat (which she wears in this still) instead of the flowers he brought for her. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

SEASON 1, EPISODE 3: “SALLY AND THE LAB TECHNICIAN”
DIR. JOHN RICH
WRITTEN BY CARL REINER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCT. 17, 1961
Recap: Rob and Laura feel bad for Rob’s coworker, Sally. Sally has not yet married because, according to Rob, guys don’t like girls who make jokes every time they open their mouths. Laura thinks she can help by setting Sally up with her cousin, who works as a lab technician.
Reaction: Guest star Eddie Firestone is quite funny as Laura’s cousin, Thomas. Even better is Rose Marie (as Sally), who really shines in this episode. She’s absolutely hilarious, and it’s nice to see her play a bigger part in the episode than she usually does. At the same time this episode does have a slightly more serious tone for a moment or two, and lonely members of the audience (such as myself) can relate to Sally’s plight of never feeling like she says or does the correct things on dates.
Favorite line: “That’s all right, I’ve got plenty of friends. I’ve got a date later to play solitaire!” (Buddy)

Puppeteer/rabbit-woman Laura makes Rob dance for the audience (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Puppeteer/rabbit-woman Laura makes Rob dance for the audience (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

SEASON 1, EPISODE 4: “WASHINGTON VS. THE BUNNY”
DIR. JOHN RICH
WRITTEN BY CARL REINER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCT. 24, 1961
Recap: Alan sends Rob to Washington DC to check out an up-and-coming singer who all of the major television shows are after. But this is no simple business trip, because the performance that Rob is supposed to catch for work happens to be at on the same day as his son’s school play. Naturally, Laura wants Rob to skip the trip and come to the play, but he isn’t sure what to do.
Reaction: This episode isn’t quite as high on fun as those that came before it, but it’s still a good episode. It has its funny moments (the ridiculously exaggerated puppet scene is one of the funniest of the season), but there are also more serious discussions opened up about the conflict between work and home life and the power struggles of marriage.
Favorite bit: Buddy saying that Sally is going to give Mr. Cooley a fat lip AND the puppet scene.

Laura's dance routine is interrupted by a clumsy Rob (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Laura’s dance routine is interrupted by a clumsy Rob (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

SEASON 1, EPISODE 5: “OH HOW WE MET THE NIGHT THAT WE DANCED”
DIR. ROBERT BUTLER
WRITTEN BY CARL REINER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCT. 31, 1961
Recap: Laura decides it’s time to clean the junk out of the coat closet, and there she finds a box with Richie’s baby shoes and Rob’s old combat boots in it. Rob and Laura tell their son about the night they met, when he was in the service and she was dancing in a USO show.
Reaction: This is an adorable episode with a nostalgic and sentimental tone. Only a handful of episodes into the series the audience is still getting to know and love these characters, so this is a great opportunity to show a bit more of their backstory.
Favorite bit: Rob trying to sell himself to Laura in flashback time. ONE of his selling points: He’ll take her to see June Allyson pictures! (Or the “You, Wonderful You” number ’cause it’s just stinkin’ adorable until he crushes her foot)

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5 thoughts on “Recap and React: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ep. 1 – 5

  1. I started watching a few of these episodes on Nick in the morning before work. I’m starting to become hooked on them. Nice review

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