TV reruns filled many of the wasted holiday hours of my youth. What’s more regrettable, I never watched The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), which was then in syndication. Over the past couple of years I have had the chance to see the show online, and my kids and I caught a few episodes this Christmas break. To my mind, Dick Van Dyke offers a hugely appealing image of secular, liberal America during the mid-20th century. That image was a fiction, of course, but it was a fine fiction, and it is a fiction we have lost.
This was a truly charming situation comedy. As Rob Petrie, a young Dick Van Dyke is funny without being abnormal. Mary Tyler Moore, who plays his even younger wife, Laura, is pretty, articulate, precious. Both actors possessed genuine comedic gifts that the remorseless passage of years has long since obscured. Continue reading