I just watched the pilot that ended up becoming the Dick Van Dyke show. It’s part of what Comcast offers on their Fancast page. Dick Van Dyke was nowhere to be seen, nor were Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie or Morey Amsterdam. This was Carl Reiner’s show, written, created and starring Carl Reiner and featuring a cast with New Yawk accents so thick I thought I was back at PS 163.
I’m a huge Carl Reiner fan, but this was awful. Truly. It wasn’t bad because the jokes didn’t work–they were like all the other jokes on all the other sitcoms. What was missing was warmth and humanity. I am astonished to say this was a mean spirited sitcom–something it did not set out to be.
I can’t understand how Reiner didn’t see it. And, if he didn’t see it, I worry about who he was in 1961. The protagonist in this autobiographical show had big issues.
Luckily “Head of the Family” became the “Dick Van Dyke Show.” Lucky Barbara Britton was replaced by Mary Tyler Moore and Morty Gunty (Morty Gunty–my father will enjoy seeing that name) was replaced by Morey Amsterdam.
There are no TV pilots any more. If it’s made, it’s aired (and it certainly doesn’t run 26:20). There is no sandox to experiment in. I can thank and blame the Internet I got to see this 45+ years after the fact. I will never look at Carl Reiner in the same way.