TITLE: THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW - 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION - FAN FAVORITES
DVD Release Date: September 20, 2011 (Image Entertainment)
B&W / 1961-1966
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 20
Running Time: 500 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: Approx. 100 minutes
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captions: None
Special Features: Emmy Footage; Rehearsal Footage; The Making of "It May Look Like a Walnut!"; Diagnosis Murder Clip; Episode Related Interviews; Trivia; "Meet the Cast" featurette
The Dick Van Dyke is going to be fifty years old this October, and just in time for that special anniversary, Image Entertainment brings us a collection of the 20 greatest episodes of the series in a five disc set. The series debuted in 1961 on CBS after being envisioned as a pilot starring Carl Reiner. But before the series was palatable for air, his character was replaced by the iconic Dick Van Dyke, who stars as Rob Petrie, as a man dealing with the ups and downs of his life at work and home. He works for Alan Brady (played by Carl Reiner, who, as previously mentioned, played the role of Rob in the original pilot) and has to deal with Buddy (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally (Rose Marie) at work. Meanwhile, at home is his well-meaning (but often ditzy) wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and son Ritchie (Larry Matthews).
The set begins with the first episode, "The Sick Boy and the Sitter," where Rob talks Laura into leaving a sick Ritchie with a babysitter so that they can attend a party. Sheldon Leonard guest stars in "Big Max Calvada," where Rob, Sally, and Buddy get an unusual writing assignment. Laura spills the beans about Alan Brady's hair (or lack thereof) in "Coast to Coast Big Mouth." In "Dear Sally Rogers," Sally advertises herself needing a husband on TV as a gag, but the results are just too much to handle.
Ritchie asks his parents the "big question" in "Where Did I Come From?" In "That's My Boy??," Rob and Laura remember the day that Ritchie was born. Greg Morris guest stars. Science fiction nightmares take over Rob in "It May Look Like a Walnut!" Laura has been painted in the nude (even though she didn't pose that way) in "October Eve."
Rob looks back at his interview with Alan Brady (at a very untimely time) in "100 Terrible Hours." Rob sees a flying saucer in "Uhny Uftz." In "Never Bathe on Saturday," Laura has a crisis when her toe gets stuck in a bath spout. Are Buddy and Sally having an affair? Rob sure thinks so in "The Secret Life of Buddy and Sally."
Rob and Laura look back at their past (again!) in "Oh How We Met the Night We Danced." Laura thinks that the romance in her marriage is fading, but actually, the only thing fading in her life is her hair color when she bleaches her hair in "My Blonde-Haired Brunette." Don Rickles guest stars in "4 1/2," where Rob and Laura are trapped in a stalled elevator with a holdup man. The Alan Brady Show entertains at a prison in "The Alan Brady Show Goes to Jail," but Rob may not be going home. Don Rickles guest stars once again.
Ritchie wants an explanation about his middle name in "What's in a Middle Name?" In "The Curious Thing About Women," Laura opens Rob's mail... which turns out to be a pretty bad idea. Ritchie's toy intercom causes problems between neighbors in "All About Eavesdropping." In "One Angry Man," Rob has jury duty, but Laura has bigger worries about Rob being unfairly swayed by the beautiful blonde defendant.
The episodes included, along with runtimes are as follows (note: the episode numbers listed are the numbers that correspond to the order in which the episode aired):
1. "The Sick Boy and the Sitter" (25:40)
71. "Big Max Calvada" (25:40)
128. "Coast to Coast Big Mouth" (25:30)
148. "Dear Sally Rogers" (24:58)
19. "Where Did I Come From?" (25:28)
64. "That's My Boy??" (25:30)
51. "It May Look Like a Walnut!" (24:56)
90. "October Eve" (25:29)
122. "100 Terrible Hours" (25:27)
129. "Uhny Uftz" (24:31)
121. "Never Bathe on Saturday" (25:07)
40. "The Secret Life of Buddy and Sally" (26:41)
6. "Oh How We Met the Night That We Danced"(25:08)
9. "My Blonde Haired Brunette" (25:32)
102. "4 1/2" (25:09)
103. "The Alan Brady Show Goes to Jail" (25:30)
36. "What's in a Middle Name?" (24:54)
17. "The Curious Thing About Women" (25:33)
63. "All About Eavesdropping" (24:29)
25. "One Angry Man" (25:41)
The outer packaging for the set features (although admittedly somewhat public domain looking; why would a studio do this for a set that is otherwise first rate???) Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore on the cover. On the back, there is a listing of the episodes, special features, and a few episode snapshots. Inside, we have slimcases--a lot of them. In fact, there are five slimcases, one for each disc included in the set. The front of each slimcase features a photo from episode on the set... but none of this artwork is new. In fact, as you read on, you'll see that this entire set is actually just a repackaging of previously released DVDs, and the discs and contents are the same as before. Each disc contains four episodes, presented in a very random order (as can be seen in the Episodes section above).
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu begins with the theme song, along with photos from the episodes. From the main menu, you have a list of all of the episodes, along with options for Play All Episodes and Special Features. When you select an episode, you get an opportunity to select a scene from the episode (oddly enough, there isn't just a "play episode" option, but you just pick the first scene, which is usually "Opening Titles." The screen has a snapshot from the scenes, along with filmdate and original airdate. And if there are special features related to the episode, you can play them from this menu. Scenes are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on the set is excellent. Very rarely can that be said about a 50 year series, but this set is an exception. All of the episodes have been beautifully remastered with mostly crystal clear video and audio, with just a few specks of grain and debris here and there. Unfortunately, though, the episodes are neither closed-captioned nor subtitled.
Best-of sets normally lack special features and usually we have nothing to say here. But that is NOT the case this time! Although there is nothing new on this set that hasn't been on the season sets, this set contains plenty of the "best" special features that have been culled from the season sets.
On every disc, we have "Ottoman Tripper," where there is a single trivia question. It's a pretty easy question, and if you get it right, Rob Petrie successfully makes it past the ottoman. Get it wrong, and he trips. It's not all that special, really, but an interesting oddity. "Meet the Cast" gives several screens of text where you can read about the cast members of the series. The "Meet the Cast" is the same on every disc, it appears.
Perhaps the best special feature on Disc 1, though, is the "Head of the Family (Pilot)," (26:18) where you can see the original pilot for the series as the series was originally meant to be, with an entirely different cast (specifically Carl Reiner as Rob Petrie and Barbara Britton as Laura Petrie). While it is an interesting feature to watch, I think that Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were MUCH better suited for the roles. In "Carl Reiner Remembers Head of the Family" (2:04), we get to see Carl Reiner discussing his thoughts on the original pilot of the series. We get to see the changes that were suggested by Sheldon Leonard and how Carl Reiner evolved into producer (as opposed to star) in "Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard Discuss the Pilot" (4:33). If that isn't enough, there is also the feature "Sheldon Leonard Discusses His Role as Executive Producer" (1:34), where the title pretty much says it all. In "Emmy Awards (1965-1966) Writing" (2:02), we get to see Bill Persky and Sam Denoff win their Emmy Award for writing in the episode "Coast to Coast Big Mouth," and the award is presented by Danny Kaye, Eva Gabor, and Bob Crane. In "The Cast Remembers Coast to Coast Big Mouth" (2:04), we get to see Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore, and Dick Van Dyke reminisce about the classic episode of the series. The same trio comes together again in "The Cast Remembers Sheldon Leonard" (2:13), where they look back at the life of the classic icon of television.
Onto Disc 2, we have "The Making of It May Look Like a Walnut!" (22:55), where we get a very in-depth look at the making of one of the most famous episodes of the series, with interviews from Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, and Rose Marie in 2000. It's just too bad Mary Tyler Moore wasn't included in this, but it appears that this was not produced specifically for the DVD set. In "The Cast Remembers That's My Boy??" (3:53), we once again get to see Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore, and Dick Van Dyke reminisce about an episode of the series. And in "Carl Reiner Remembers October Eve" (0:46), Carl Reiner gives his thoughts on that episode. Finally, Disc 2 concludes with "Emmy Awards (1964-1965) Outstanding Program Achievement in Entertainment" (3:01), where the cast is presented with yet another award.
Disc 3 has a clip from "Diagnosis Murder" (0:37) where Dr. Mark Sloan has an encounter with Rob Petrie. It is great that this set recognizes even small scenes such as those from another series. Of course, we have more cast reminiscing on this disc, with "The Cast Remembers Never Bathe on Saturday" (4:17), "The Cast Remembers Buddy" (2:06), and "The Cast Remembers Sally" (3:18). We get to see Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam in the last two features on this disc, and of course, Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, and Mary Tyler Moore (though Moore does not appear on the Buddy and Sally features).
Disc 4 has "Dick Sings the Show's Theme at the 2001 Hollywood Bowl" (2:27), in a celebration of TV music. He is joined on stage by Mary Tyler Moore, Marion Ross, and Florence Henderson. "The Cast Remembers My Blonde Haired Brunette" (5:34) is another cast reminiscing feature, but this one is decisively longer than the others. We get to see Dick Van Dyke talk about Don Rickles in "Dick Remembers Don Rickles" (0:59). Finally, in "Emmy Awards (1961-1962) Writing" (0:59), the award-winning series wins yet another award, this time presented by Lucille Ball.
Finally, on Disc 5, we have some rehearsal footage (2:28), where a producer follows Sheldon Leonard around for the day, and it leads to the set of the series during rehearsal (you'll also see some preparation for an episode of The Andy Griffith Show here). In "Emmy Awards (1963)" (4:26), we get to see even more Emmy Award footage from the series.
I really don't see anything to complain about in the special features department.
Before I go any further, there is a huge secret about these sets that isn't so secret if you do some simple online research: this is not a new set by any means. Not only have all of these episodes been released on the season sets, but the five "volumes" in this set were all individually released on DVD... twice even. They were first released by Time-Life in 2002 as five separate volumes (as well as a collection containing all five discs), and again in 2004 by Image as five separate volumes. In fact, all of the cases inside even have the exact same artwork as the old Image releases, and refer to the discs as "The Best of Dick Van Dyke" (as opposed to the "Fan Favorites" title used for the entire box set). So, if you have those sets, there is definitely nothing special for you to buy here. Furthermore, if you have the season sets, there is nothing new here either.
So given all that, is this set right for anybody? Well, of course! Many people don't own the series at all, and for those wanting just a taste of the series, this is the perfect set to own, and the price is very reasonable compared to all of the other releases of the series. These are great episodes of the series, and even if the content is all recycled from old releases, it is great that they carried over the plethora of special features. This set also makes a perfect gift. So, you should rush to get this set if that applies to you... but don't run so fast that you trip on any furniture, OK?
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/09/11
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