Welcome to the first of Eight Days of Christmas, a celebration of the wintery and often heartwarming holiday cheer churned out by Hollywood. This year’s Eight Days of Christmas will feature films and classic television episodes. It all kicks off today with The Dick Van Dyke Show‘s episode “The Alan Brady Show Presents,” a variety show-style Christmas episode from season three. On to the show!…
It took three seasons for The Dick Van Dyke Show to celebrate the season with a holiday special, and that episode, “The Alan Brady Show Presents,” would be the only holiday special in the entire series. Luckily for fans of the show, it’s a very fun episode and more than worthy of watching once a year!
Written by frequent Van Dyke Show penmen Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, the episode is festive from the start. It opens with Alan Brady dressed as Santa, surrounded by a gaggle of lady elves in fur-trimmed outfits and hats.
The Alan Brady Show, the show-within-the-show of The Dick Van Dyke Show, is not having an ordinary episode either, if those outfits weren’t enough to tip you off. Hopping out of his sleigh, Alan Brady introduces Rob, who clues us in.
You see, Rob, Sally, and Buddy had written a perfectly wonderful holiday script. In fact, it was a brilliant episode. Alan loved it, and they were ready to bring it to air… until Mel convinced Alan that the show needed more “heart.” What better way to bring more heart than by introducing the heart of the show? And that, of course, is the writing team! The gang is put in charge of a variety episode with skits and musical numbers starring themselves and their families.
Aside from a brief flashback to the writers’ room, the day Mel broke the news about the scrapped script, The Dick Van Dyke Show‘s audience gets to see what The Alan Brady Show‘s audience would, if that show really existed. The Petries and their pals bring about half an hour of music, laughs, and holiday cheer to the screen, making for a truly delightful seasonal episode.
*The “Alan Brady Chorus” (Mel, Buddy, Sally, Laura, and Rob introducting themselves to the Alan Brady viewer… by singing a song about Alan Brady)
*Sally’s letter-writing to Santa…
…where, of course, she asks him for a fella!
*An attempt at cello/piano duo performance by Sally and Buddy, which goes sour when Buddy wants all of the spotlight for himself
*Rob and Laura sharing a Santa-suit meet-cute, and delivering what is probably the most adorable musical duet ever performed by a man and woman in Santa suits:
*Ritchie as the Little Drummer Boy, in the episode’s most sincere and sentimentally charming skit
*A performance of “The Musicians” by Buddy, Sally, Rob, and Laura
The skits are all wonderful to watch and the episode caps off with the whole cast singing a snippet of The Dick Van Dyke Show‘s very own theme song. Cute!
According to The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book by Vince Waldron, the use of “The Musicians” was suggested by Dick Van Dyke himself. The tune had appeared in an earlier episode, “The Sam Pomerantz Scandals.” Here, the cast performs it while dressed as toy soldiers, putting a Christmas-y spin on it.
Adding another little something to love for die-hards of the series, this episode was directed by Jerry Paris, who of course appeared in other episodes as Rob’s best friend Jerry Helper. Paris doesn’t appear in front of the camera in this episode, but he had been appointed “house director” for the show just before this holiday special was filmed (another fun fact from Waldron’s book), so it was a significant moment in his directing career.
If you love this series and love these characters, the whole variety show is sure to put a smile on your face. And if you’re in the US, it’s easy to find, available on both Netflix and Hulu for your Christmas season enjoyment!