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The Dick Van Dyke Show
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dick Van Dyke Show is a classic 1960s multi-Emmy Award-winning series. It features lots of comedy and musical acts that are both entertaining and family friendly. As was typical of the time, pipe, cigar, and cigarette smoking is occasionally visible. Parties often feature people with cocktails, and jokes sometimes make references to drunkenness. Because the themes revolve around work and marriage, it probably won't appeal to younger kids (although it's mild enough if it does).
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What's the story?
THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW (1961-1966) is a classic sitcom starring Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie, a married suburban couple living their lives in the early 1960s. While Laura runs the house and stays home to raise son Ritchie (Larry Matthews), Rob works as the head writer for The Alan Brady Show, a fictitious New York variety show starring Carl Reiner, as the show's host. It's exciting work, but much of his time is spent keeping his co-writers, Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie) in check, especially when they make fun of the show's producer, Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon). Folks like the Petrie's next-door neighbors, Jerry and Mildred (Jerry Paris and Ann Morgan Guilbert), and Rob's brother Stacey (Jerry Van Dyke) often add to the day-to-day fun.
Is it any good?
The 15-time Emmy Award-winning series, which is loosely based on Reiner's life, combines the elements of a comedy with the elements of a variety show. This creative show platform allowed for musical and vaudevillian-like comedy performances of Van Dyke, Marie, and other members of the cast throughout the five years the show was on the air.
It's definitely entertaining, but what makes The Dick Van Dyke Show historically significant is its reflection of a middle-class awareness of the Kennedy Administration-inspired social movements and trends of the time while still focusing on the traditional issues surrounding Rob and Laura's marriage and domestic life. The result is a show that has timeless appeal, which continues to play an important role in American popular culture.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes old TV series like The Dick Van Dyke Show "classics." Is it because they're old, or is it because of the quality of the show? How can TV shows from the past still be relevant today?
Smoking was once considered a normal and socially acceptable behavior to show on television but now isn't. Other things, like showing married couples sleeping in separate beds, are no longer the norm. What kinds of things leads to these changes? What does watching these behaviors from the past teach us about the present?
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