Recap and React: The Dick Van Dyke Show, season 4, episodes 1 – 5

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Poor Rob, stuck in the hospital with some sort of recovery/torture contraption strapped to his head! (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Poor Rob, stuck in the hospital with some sort of recovery contraption/torture device strapped to his head! (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Season 4, Episode 1: “My Mother Can Beat Up My Father”
Directed by Jerry Paris
Written by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
Originally aired September 23, 1964
Recap:
Rob is paying a visit to the hospital, and he recounts to the nurse the tale of how he ended up there: Laura beat him up!
Reaction:
Kicking off the season with a woe-is-me-Rob episode! His retelling of the tale of his injuries is highly dramatized (and very funny). Buddy and Sally’s reactions to the news coverage are great. I also love Laura’s enthusiastic reaction. She is totally soaking up the attention, even taking pride in the fact that Ritchie wants to “grow up and be big and strong like his mommy.” There’s a bit of discussion of gender roles and how they were being questioned/changed a bit in the midcentury, but nothing too serious. A fun episode where the comedy just snowballs, and a nice start to the fourth season.
Favorite moments/quotes:
Rob naming the chapter How to Put Your Husband Into the Hospital Without Really Trying + the media nicknaming Laura “The Adorable Amazon”
Special note:
This episode does include one pet peeve of mine — Rob and Laura constantly refer to a stuffed chimpanzee as a monkey. (Chimps are apes, not monkeys. Spread the word!)

Laura is shocked to see a face other than her own staring back at her in the mirror! (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Laura is shocked to see a face other than her own staring back at her in the mirror! (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Season 4, Episode 2: “The Ghost of A. Chantz”
Directed by Jerry Paris
Written by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
Originally aired September 30, 1964
Recap:
Laura, Rob, Buddy and Sally are planning to spend a weekend in the mountains with Alan Brady and Mel. When they arrive at the hotel, they find that Mel forgot to make reservations for anyone but himself and Alan. The Petries and Rob’s co-writers must stay in the only cabin that’s open at the resort. The problem? No one’s spent a full night in the cabin in three years… because it’s haunted!
Reaction:
I love everything about this episode — the odd hotel desk clerk, the creepy man bringing in firewood, Buddy’s paranoia. It’s just a bundle of lightly-spooky fun, perfect for viewing as the weather starts to get chilly and Halloween approaches. I laugh the whole way through every time I watch it and it is certainly a favorite. All of the jokes land perfectly and the cast did such a good job of portraying the frenzy of the haunted cabin. The tropes of the paranormal thriller genre are stuck to very closely and it makes for a golden episode!
Favorite moments/quotes:
“The hairless phantom strikes again!” (I love Buddy and Mel’s antagonistic relationship) + the whole gang packing onto the sofa bed because they’re scared to split up + the gang being “kidnapped,” one by one, by the ghost

Rob tries to give Roger relationship advice, not knowing that Laura is the apple of Roger's eye. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Rob tries to give Roger relationship advice, not knowing that Laura is the apple of Roger’s eye. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Season 4, Episode 3: “The Lady and the Babysitter”
Directed by Jerry Paris
Written by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
Originally aired October 7, 1964
Recap:
The Petries hire a babysitter for their son, and the babysitter quickly falls for Laura.
Reaction:
Eddie Hodges guest-stars as 17-year-old Roger, the babysitter in question. His performance is very funny. He makes it clear from the first moment that he and Laura are in the same room together that he’s lovestruck by her. Rob, of course, is clueless to this, even when Roger begins asking questions like whether Laura is much younger than Rob. This episode has quite a few funny moments. Not one of the best of the series, but it’s enjoyable.
Favorite moments/quotes:
Roger’s philosophical monologue about running track — “I ran over 700 miles, but where am I?” + “What’s his problem? Is he hooked on milk?”

After days of silence, the Helpers and the Petries accidentally reunite at a restaurant. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

After days of silence, the Helpers and the Petries accidentally reunite at a restaurant. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Season 4, Episode 4: “A Vigilante Ripped My Sports Coat”
Directed by Peter Baldwin
Written by Carl Reiner
Originally aired October 14, 1964
Recap:
Battle lines are drawn in the Petries’ suburban neighborhood… over the growth of crab grass. The war of the plants threatens the friendship between the Petries and the Helpers.
Reaction:
I love the anger-charged scenes between Jerry and Rob. The other scenes shown between these arguments lag a bit, making this one of the less-exciting episodes in the series. I expected more from it since I love the Helpers (and am a big fan of Jerry Paris), but there are a few bright spots.
Favorite moments/quotes:
“I’d rather be an I-don’t-know-what than a WEASEL!” + Jerry and Millie grilling Ritchie about where his parents are

Emperor editor Drew (guest star Lee Philips) visits the Petrie house to try to convince Rob to write his magazine's humor column.

Emperor editor Drew (guest star Lee Philips) visits the Petrie house to try to convince Rob to write his magazine’s humor column. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Season 4, Episode 5: “The Man From Emperor
Directed by Jerry Paris
Written by Carl Reiner, Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
Originally aired October 21, 1964
Recap:
Rob is offered a writing gig at a magazine, but not just any magazine: Emperor, a leading gentleman’s serial which publishes stories about bachelorhood and photos of pretty ladies.
Reaction:
Lots of great lines in this episode, as is usually the case when Buddy and Sally are somewhat prominently featured. Lee Philips is also a good guest star. He fully embodies the rude-but-charming personality you’d expect from a guy who runs a magazine like Emperor. This episode is interesting in that it directly pits traditional values against the more “free,” modern way of life (through the clash between Laura and Drew). This is not a show that ever delves too deeply into any social issue, but this is a good example of one of those episodes where the writers show that they’re aware that the world is changing. Overall, a decent episode.
Favorite moments/quotes:
“Looks like we’re kinda in the same business. Wanna merge?”

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