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  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
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  Extras
  • Additional footage
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • 2 TV spot
  • 6 Interviews
  • Awards/Nominations
  • Interactive film trivia

The Dick Van Dyke Show - Season One

Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . B&W . 750 mins . G . NTSC

  Feature
Contract

This box of the complete first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show (30 episodes in all) has been assembled with total commitment and real affection.

The Dick Van Dyke Show was one of the best of the early American sitcom television comedies; full of wit, walking a carefully crafted line between natural sweetness and saccharine.

It was created by screenwriter/director/actor Carl Reiner (co-creator with Steve Martin of such gems as Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains and All of Me, and was modelled on Reiner's own scriptwriting experiences, working alongside such comedy greats as Mel Brooks.

In fact, Reiner, in one of his interviews in this set, says he modelled the show on his own life in the television studios of that time, as well as on his own home life. The show presents these two worlds with a great feeling of reality.

Here's Dick - or Rob Petrie as he's known in the show - at home with his very cute wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and at the office, with fellow script-writers Buddy (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally (Rose Marie). The two worlds cross over occasionally, but for most of the time they're really quite separate, just as a person's working life usually is from his or her home life. This gave Carl Reiner the chance to create two sitcoms for the price of one.

The series ran for 158 episodes... and while the characterisations grew as the series developed, the comedy and underlying feeling for the characters were there from the start.

In one of his commentaries, Dick Van Dyke comments on the growth shown by Mary Tyler Moore during this first series. She came onto the show, a 23-year-old girl, as a straight actress, he remembers. And he was worried whether she would cope amidst a cast of comedians. But, he remembers, she picked it up on the run, developing into one of the best female comedians he can remember. Because of her beauty, he thinks of her in the same league as Carole Lombard... well, I wouldn't go that far, but I appreciate what he means.

In another commmentary, where both Dick and Mary reminisce about a particular episode, Dick confesses he worked really well with Mary in the domestic scenes because, unknown to her, he had a big crush on her. Well, she confesses, she had a big crush on him as well... Awhhhhhhh. Too cute.

This was all just two years before The Beatles appeared on the scene and changed the world. Go back to those pre-Beatles days of 1961 and see the world as it used to be. There were better comedies (Phil Silvers' great creation Sergeant Bilko for one) but it's sure great to be able to step back into this well-crafted universe.

  Video
Contract

Quality for a television series shot in America more than 40 years ago is sensational.

Well, it's not brilliant by today's standards of course, but this black and white television series is looking better than it ever did when originally screened, or in its innumerable repeats. The image is slick, with good tonal values and no visible artefacts present.

  Audio
Contract

The mono sound is full and clear and delivers the dialogue with clarity. There's no distortion - no high-fidelity, but no annoying thinness, harshness or over-brilliance. We could not really expect anything better in this department.

  Extras
Contract

The compilers have done a great job in giving each of the five discs in this set a good swag of worthwhile special features.

Each disc starts off with a very grim FBI warning about unauthorised use of the disc. I guess that's part of the new Free Trade Agreement, which apparently now gives the American law enforcement agency control over what we see, and where we see it.

Each disc also gives talent files on the main cast members, Dick, Morey, Mary and Rose Marie.

On Disc One is an Ottoman Tripper Quiz. Get the question wrong and you're rewarded with a video clip of Dick entering his living-room and sprawling over the pouffe placed in his path. Get it right and the clip shows him dancing adroitly around it.

Disc Two has the complete Head of the Family pilot episode of the show, with a completely different cast and Carl Reiner himself in the lead role. He wrote the role for himself; it was only many months later, after the pilot had been shown all over town with no success, that producer Sheldon Leonard told Carl he was wrong for the part.

Then there are two interview videos, in which Reiner remembers making Head of the Family and its disastrous showings. Reiner manages to look only slightly older now than he did 40 years earlier - physically, he is in a time-warp. He always looks identical to his appearance in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid as the mad Nazi scientist spreading bad cheese around the world. And there's another clip, with Reiner and Sheldon Leonard reminiscing about it all.

The first disc winds up with a vintage ad for Blue Cheer detergent, presented by Dick Van Dyke.

The second disc carries a CBS promo for the show, with the cast commenting on how they hate doing promos. Then, in a special video, today's Dick and Mary remember making the episode My Blonde-haired Brunette, and there's yet another Cheer ad spot.

The third disc carries the cast (Carl and Rose Marie) chatting about Morey Amsterdam's role as Buddy. Disc Four has Carl and Dick discussing the episode Where Did I Come From?, with Carl remembering how he almost quit the series when CBS refused to let Dick tell his son that Laura had carried him in her belly. Some things never change... America still gives violence the green-light, while clamping down on anything connected with sex and reproduction.

Disc Four also carries an optional audio commentary from Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke for the episode 'Where Did I Come From?'.

Finally, Disc Five carries a featurette with just about everyone commenting on Dick's amazing physical comedy gifts - sort of a Jerry Lewis, but with talent and style. Dick Van Dyke gives a promo for the show. There's an optional audio commentary from Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke for the episode 'The Sleeping Brother' - an episode which features as guest Dick Van Dyke's real-life brother Jerry.

Then there's a dedication to Sheldon, producer Danny Thomas and Morey Amsterdam (Morey features in some interview clips, but evidently died while the set was being prepared), and archival footage of the Emmy Awards for '61-'62, with Lucille Ball presenting Carl with the Emmy for 'Outstanding Achievement in Comedy'.

  Overall  
Contract

If you're a fan of the show, or interested in television of this era, you'll want this set. It's been presented with great care and attention to detail.

Check though that you're able to watch programs presented in the American NTSC format - this is one of the increasing number of DVDs Warner Vision is issuing in that format, and the FBI warnings show that these discs are a straight lift from the American DVD issues, format and all.


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      And I quote...
    "Step back into America circa 1961, as the brilliant Carl Reiner creates a comedy universe as bright today as when freshly minted."
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A330
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
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