Image Entertainment's splendid final effort in its series of "Dick Van Dyke Show" complete-season boxed sets provides viewers with all 31 episodes of the show's fifth and final season (1965-1966), which means that all 158 classic Van Dyke Show programs are now available on the DVD-Video format, via the five multi-disc sets from Paul Brownstein Productions and Image Entertainment, Inc.
This fifth Van Dyke DVD set follows in the stylish and plush footsteps of each of its four foregoers, featuring cool packaging and tons of bonus features. If you've got the other sets in this series, you're gonna want this one too...without a doubt.
High praise must go to Mr. Brownstein and Image for producing five such magnificent DVD boxed sets, and for getting them onto the market so quickly. Season sets #1 and #2 were both released on October 21, 2003, with subsequent releases occurring on February 24, April 27, and June 29 of 2004. So, in just the short space of eight months, every single episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" has been made available. Hard to beat that record.
SEASON FIVE --- Most TV shows seem to go downhill in quality (writing-wise) with the passage of time. For the most part, I do not believe such a malady plagued Carl Reiner's baby, "The Dick Van Dyke Show". There are many, many good-as-gold episodes to be found in the cast's swan-song season. Such as: "Coast-To-Coast Big Mouth", "You're Under Arrest", "The Curse Of The Petrie People", "Long Night's Journey Into Day", and the very funny Western spoof, "The Gunslinger".
The overall quality of the writing and the acting in this television series was consistently excellent, in my opinion, throughout the entire show's run -- from the perfectly-charming debut episode, "The Sick Boy And The Sitter" (aired October 3, 1961), right through to the final episode, "The Last Chapter", which originally aired on June 1, 1966. (NOTE: "The Gunslinger" was actually the final episode to be filmed. But "The Last Chapter" was the last show to hit the airwaves.)
The episodes on these five "Region Free" discs are presented in their original uncut form (with an average running time of slightly more than 25 minutes each, including all credits).
VIDEO/AUDIO QUALITY --- Excellent (again)! Just like the four sets that preceeded it, the fifth-season episodes look just great on DVD. A few minor blemishes pop up from time to time, but not many. The clarity is outstanding for a show of this advanced age.
The DVD transfers for all five of these stellar Dick Van Dyke Show boxed sets were made from the original 35-mm. films of the episodes. Since the "original" film sources were used here, we see a lot better quality than if second-generation filmed (or taped) source prints had been utilized to create the Digital Masters for these boxed sets. And this extra quality definitely shines through on each of these Image discs.
The audio is presented in its original Mono (2.0 Dolby Digital Mono), and merits good marks on the DVD scorecard as well. I have no trouble hearing any of the snappy dialogue at all. Very good sound quality here.
PACKAGING --- In the previous tradition of these Image sets, the fifth DVD-on-DVD installment gives us a nice sturdy outer slipcase to hold the 5 individual ("ThinPak") slim plastic cases. The outer slipcase, consistent with Seasons 1 through 4, is presented in the guise of an old-fashioned black-and-white TV set, with an area cut out of the "screen" portion of the television monitor which holds a removable lenticular (3D type) "motion picture" card, showing an image from the Van Dyke Show. Season Five's 3D picture shows Rob and Laura dancing in the living room of the Petrie home. This image isn't from a fifth-year show, however. It comes from the second-season episode, "Ray Murdock's X-Ray".
Each of the five separate slim cases has a different artwork design. Information on each disc's episodes is also shown on all the individual cases, with episode numbers, air dates, film dates, a brief program description, and chapter title listings.
A great deal of thought and care obviously went into the packaging design and presentation of these DVD sets, and it certainly shows. The makers of these sets knew that many buyers (like myself) would want this classic TV series presented in such a way so that the sets would be deemed "collector's items". And the attractive, user-friendly, and (above all) durable way these collections have been packaged does not disappoint. The "collectible" feel is definitely there in each of these Dick Van Dyke sets.
MENUS --- Straight-forward and to-the-point. Simplicity at its finest. Which is just fine by me. No fancy, slow-to-get-there, animated transitions from one menu to another. The Season-Five Main Menu is structured the same as the previous sets in this series. Upon initial disc load-up, the show's Season-One theme song plays (one time), then stops. But even this can easily be quickly bypassed by pressing "Top Menu" on your remote. Each disc's 6 or 7 episodes are listed on screen directly from the Main Menu (with added options at the bottom of the menu for "Special Features" and "Play All Episodes").
Each episode gets its own Sub-Menu, with chapter listing, plus an "Extras" area on some episodes, which will take you to any bonus features connected with that particular program.
BONUS FEATURES --- Here's a complete rundown of the many supplemental features that can be found within this 5-Disc set. Most of these bonuses are located on Disc #5......
>> 2 Audio Commentary Tracks with Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke (for the episodes "Coast-To-Coast Big Mouth" and "The Gunslinger").
>> 1 Audio Commentary Track featuring the trio of Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, and Bill Idelson (for the episode "Dear Sally Rogers"). .... NOTE: The packaging for this set says that Ann Morgan Guilbert participates in this commentary. This is incorrect information. It's Larry Mathews, not Guilbert, providing the third voice here.
>> Clip from the 1969 TV Special "Dick Van Dyke And The Other Woman" (Length -- 6:57). .... This bonus is priceless! It's not a song-and-dance clip with Dick and Mary, but instead a "look back" at "The Dick Van Dyke Show". A film clip is provided from the episode "The Impractical Joke", and you'll appreciate the excellent picture quality on these boxed sets even more after seeing this clip, which obviously hasn't been remastered or cleaned up too much.
But what makes this bonus feature priceless is an "outtake" from the fifth-season episode "You Ought To Be In Pictures", which is actually an "alternate take" of a scene in that episode. In this hilarious "alternate" version of the scene, Rob (Dick) deliberately goes way "over the top", as he overacts, cries, and carries on in baby-like fashion. You'll be rolling on the floor after seeing this!
>> Video footage from the 2003 "TV Land Awards" (9:36). .... This is a series of acceptance speeches made by the Van Dyke Show's cast members. Carl Reiner steals the moment here, with several humorous quips, proving that his comic mind was still razor-sharp even as he approached the age of 81.
>> 1992 video clip from "Comic Relief" (6:12). .... This clip features Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robin Williams, along with the main cast members of the Van Dyke Show.
>> Sketch featuring Dick with "Mama" Cass Elliot (5:33). .... This comedy sketch (in color) comes from Cass Elliot's 1973 TV Special "Don't Call Me Mama Anymore".
>> Cast interview footage (snipped from the 1994 CBS-TV Special, "The Dick Van Dyke Show Remembered").
>> CBS promo for "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" (1971-1974). .... In addition to the 30-second color video clip advertising the show, this bonus also offers up some very interesting information about Dick's short-lived second sitcom, via a series of text screens (including cast lists). Very informative and well-done.
>> A "TV-Land" promo clip for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (0:30).
>> Emmy Awards footage. .... We get to see three separate awards dished up in these color clips from the Emmy telecast of May 22, 1966. Picture quality is pretty good. Not perfect, but certainly good enough. (And check out the hairdo on Mary Tyler Moore!)
>> Don Rickles Remembers His 2-Part Episode (7:05). .... The two-parter in question, which had Rickles (as "Lyle Delp") robbing the Petries in an elevator (at "comb-point"), was actually from season four of the series, not this fifth season. Carl Reiner introduces this bonus segment, telling us it's kind of a "flashback" to the Season-Four DVD set. LOL!
>> Theatrical Trailer (in B&W) for "The Art Of Love", a 1965 feature film co-starring Dick Van Dyke and Carl Reiner (0:47).
>> Photo Galleries for many episodes (although there aren't as many here as in the other seasonal sets). .... Each of the Photo Galleries is on a "timed" self-running track, but each picture can be "paused" for a longer look.
>> Four-page collectible booklet, which includes Van Dyke Show facts, photos, and mini-bio pieces on Richard Deacon and Carl Reiner.
>> Easter Eggs. .... Several "Nick At Nite" TV promos are buried as "Eggs". There's at least one Egg on each of the five discs in this set. Go to any of the episode menus and start scrolling down the various chapters. With any chapter highlighted (it varies), click "Left Arrow" on the remote control. If there's an "Egg" there, the "highlighted" area will move from the chapter title to the upper right-hand corner of the screen (where there's an artist drawing of Dick Van Dyke). If you see a "glow" around Mr. Van Dyke's head, you know you've hit upon an Easter Egg. Press "Enter" or "Play" at this stage, and be taken to the promotional clips.
Image Entertainment and Paul Brownstein Productions have done a bang-up job of unearthing gobs of great bonus features to place on the five "Dick Van Dyke Show" seasonal boxed sets. About the only thing missing that would have been nice to have on these sets are the many bloopers and outtakes from the series. (Although the inclusion of that previously-mentioned "alternate take" from one episode within this fifth-season set is certainly better than nothing.)
I have a fairly-poor-quality VHS tape that contains approximately 25 minutes of Van Dyke Show bloopers and outtakes, so I know that many bloopers do exist in the vaults (somewhere). Such deleted material would have capped off these DVD-on-DVD sets very nicely, IMO. But even without them, the totality of the bonus material included on the five boxed sets is really quite remarkable (considering the age of this TV program).
I believe, in fact, the only reason that the blooper reels were not presented as a part of these sets is because of Carl Reiner's own desire that they not be put on the DVDs. Carl has stated that he'd rather not have his famous Van Dyke Show cast be seen "out of character" while filming the episodes, which DOES happen often in the batch of outtakes I've seen via my VHS cassette. But, who knows, perhaps those very funny outtakes will one day end up on the DVD-Video format too.
ON DECK -- THE FIFTH SEASON AT A GLANCE:
Below is a complete Episode Guide for the thirty-one shows that make up Season Five of "The Dick Van Dyke Show". This episode list reflects the order in which the programs are presented within this DVD collection, arranged in sequence by "Production Date" (the date of filming the show), which does not always necessarily match the "Air Date" chronology.
The original CBS-TV air dates are also listed below, plus a few program synopses and some of my favorite quotes from some of the shows......
THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW -- SEASON #5 (1965-1966):
128. Coast-To-Coast Big Mouth (First Aired: 9/15/1965) .... The final year of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" begins with "Big Mouth" (aka Laura Petrie). Laura tells a whopper of a secret on a live television game show. This does not exactly please Rob or Alan Brady in the slightest. Great fun though, especially the scene with Alan and Laura in Alan's office. .... "If you want to see ruins, why don't you go to Greece!?" .... "Your place is on NETWORK TELEVISION!!"
129. Uhny Uftz (9/29/1965) .... Did Rob really see a flying saucer hovering over Manhattan at 3:00 A.M. one night? Tune in to "Uftz" and find out. .... "Just you and Hugo, huh?"
130. The Ugliest Dog In The World (10/6/1965) .... "Has he been eating onions?" :)
131. No Rice At My Wedding (10/13/1965) .... The appeal of Rob & Laura together as a couple shines through in this flashback episode. .... "If you're not back by the time the convicts grab the priest, you can forget about me." .... "Well, what's the difference? Rain? Rob? They're both big drips!"
132. Draw Me A Pear (10/20/1965)
133. The Great Petrie Fortune (10/27/1965) .... If you enjoy treasure hunts, then this is the episode for you. A relative of Rob's dies and leaves Rob an old rolltop desk that contains something valuable. Could it be that glass doorknob? Or the bag of marbles (all "puries" too)? Or perhaps that box of kidney pills? Watch and discover what the "fortune" turns out to be.
134. Odd But True (11/3/1965) .... Is Rob's back REALLY worth all of this fuss and freckle-connecting? Millie certainly thinks so. .... "I have dozens of freckled bells in my files. It was the 'crack' that was the interesting feature."
135. Viva Petrie (11/10/1965)
136. Go Tell The Birds And The Bees (11/17/1965)
137. Body And Sol (11/24/1965)
138. See Rob Write, Write Rob Write (12/8/1965)
139. You're Under Arrest (12/15/1965)
140. Fifty-Two, Forty-Five Or Work (12/29/1965)
141. Who Stole My Watch? (1/5/1966) .... Rob's brand-new watch is missing. Was it stolen -- by a friend? .... "Why you vicious little beast!!"
142. Bad Reception In Albany (3/9/1966)
143. I Do Not Choose To Run (1/19/1966) **
144. The Making Of A Councilman (1/26/1966) ** .... Episodes 143 and 144 form a 2-parter with Rob running for city council against "Lincoln Goodheart" (nicely played by the timid Wally Cox). .... "Well, with all due respect to your son's gingerbread house, there's an easterly low-pressure area leading a cold front over Ohio, and that should reach here by this afternoon." --> "What does that mean?" --> "Rain."
145. The Curse Of The Petrie People (2/2/1966) .... An ugly brooch causes considerable misery for the Petries after Laura accidentally grinds the thing up in the garbage disposal. .... "What's a 'Petrie'?"
146. The Bottom Of Mel Cooley's Heart (2/9/1966)
147. Remember The Alimony (2/16/1966)
148. Dear Sally Rogers (2/23/1966)
149. Buddy Sorrell, Man And Boy (3/2/1966)
150. Long Night's Journey Into Day (5/11/1966) .... Laura is scared out of her wits when she's left alone one night. And when Millie comes over to keep Laura company, things don't get much better. .... "And whatever you do, don't take a shower. Oh, didn't you see that Alfred Hitchcock picture? Better off dirty than dead."
151. Talk To The Snail (3/23/1966)
152. A Day In The Life Of Alan Brady (4/6/1966)
153. Obnoxious, Offensive Egomaniac Etc. (4/13/1966)
154. The Man From My Uncle (4/20/1966) .... Rob and Laura's house at 148 Bonnie Meadow Road is used for an FBI stakeout in this top-notch episode. Godfrey Cambridge guests as "Harry Bond" (a "marksman"!). A highlight is when Rob starts to fiddle around with all of Bond's equipment. .... "Banana?"
155. You Ought To Be In Pictures (4/27/1966)
156. Love Thy Other Neighbor (5/4/1966)
157. The Last Chapter (6/1/1966) *
158. The Gunslinger (5/25/1966) .... The last episode filmed, "The Gunslinger" offers up lots of fun within a "western spoof" script (via a dream sequence while Rob is in the dentist's chair). .... "I was a singer, turned slinger, turned rancher, turned dancer, turned parson, turned sheriff." .... "You wouldn't shoot an unarmed man, would ya?" --> "That's one of my BEST things!"
* = For continuity reasons, "The Last Chapter" is presented as the last episode on Disc 5 of this boxed set. It was the final episode aired during the original CBS network run of the series in 1966, and therefore is presented as the last program on this boxed set.
** = Two-Part Episode
SOME DICK VAN DYKE SHOW TRIVIA & MISC. TIDBITS (AND GUEST-STAR INFO):
>> The show walked away with four more Emmy Awards for its fifth and final season on the air, increasing its final total to 15 Emmys won during the show's 1961-1966 network run. The series copped at least one Emmy prize each and every year it was in production; and won a minimum of two of the coveted TV trophies during each of its last four seasons.
>> Character actor Richard Deacon ("Mel Cooley"), who sadly passed away at age 63 in August 1984, was one busy actor during several of the years he was doing the Dick Van Dyke series. In addition to being an integral (and extremely funny) part of the excellent cast on the Van Dyke Show, Richard, at the same time, was also co-starring on another top sitcom of the era, "Leave It To Beaver", in which he played the rather snobbish and overbearing "Fred Rutherford".
Deacon appeared in both of those TV shows from 1961 to 1963 (when "Beaver" finished up its successful six-year network term). "Deac", as he was affectionately known, also made brief appearances in a whole slew of major motion pictures during this very same "Dick Van Dyke Show" time period, including "Lover Come Back" (1961), "That Touch Of Mink" (1962), "The Birds" (1963), and "Hud" (1963), among others.
>> The Dick Van Dyke Show didn't rely heavily upon the appearances of "guest stars" throughout the course of its five seasons. And, due to the caliber of its strong and highly-appealing regular cast members, they really didn't have any need to feature outside talent very often. In fact, in my opinion, the very best episodes shine the spotlight on ONLY the regular cast members (Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, Jerry Paris, Ann Morgan Guilbert, Carl Reiner, and Larry Mathews).
However, several guest stars would pop up in the episodes from season to season. In case you're interested, here's a fairly comprehensive list of the major "Guest Stars" who put in at least one appearance on "The Dick Van Dyke Show":
Jerry Van Dyke, Don Rickles, Jack Albertson, Vic Damone, Sue Ann Langdon, Bob Crane, Everett Sloane, Richard Dawson, Robert Vaughn, Greg Morris, Howard Morris, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin, Edward Platt, Jack Carter, Ed Begley, Billy DeWolfe, Arte Johnson, Wally Cox, Michael Constantine, Godfrey Cambridge, plus show executives Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard.
In addition, many other veteran "character" actors were highly visible throughout the 158 episodes of the series (usually in smaller roles). Such as: Allan Melvin, Dabbs Greer, Johnny Silver, Bill Idelson (who played "Herman Glimsher"), Jamie Farr (who portrayed the "Snappy Service" man), J. Pat O'Malley, Jesse White, Amzie Strickland, Madge Blake, Ken Lynch (who made a career out of playing policemen on TV, and in some movies as well), Sandy Kenyon, Peter Leeds, Will Wright, Ross Elliott, Lennie Weinrib, Henry Gibson, Jerry Hausner, Marty Ingels, Isabel Randolph, Bernard Fox, Herbie Faye, William Schallert, Joby Baker, Herb Vigran, Jane Dulo, Ray Kellogg, Charles Aidman, Barney Phillips, Doris Packer, Jackie Joseph, Burt Mustin, Ken Berry, Ned Glass, Doris Singleton, Valerie Yerke, Bernie Kopell, and Frank Adamo.
Adamo, who also served as Dick Van Dyke's "personal assistant", logged more bit parts during the Van Dyke series than any other actor, often popping up as a delivery boy, a waiter, or a party guest, etc.
For five TV seasons, the flawless regular cast, along with all of the above guest stars and bit players, helped make "The Dick Van Dyke Show" the high-quality, humor-filled program that it was in the 1960s -- and still is today.
A FINAL HUNK OF VAN DYKE PRAISE:
There have been countless TV shows aired since the "boob tube" was invented, but there's one particular series that entered American living rooms from 1961 to 1966 that stands head and shoulders above most of the rest of the pack (in my opinion) -- and it starred a skinny "human waterfall" named Dick Van Dyke and a pretty, toothy, young actress by the name of Mary Tyler Moore.
"The Dick Van Dyke Show", created by Carl Reiner, shall forever remain one of finest programs in television history. Very few shows can match it for its flat-out "entertainment" value, nor for its high re-watchability factor. And thanks to these fabulous DVD boxed sets, this endearing television series can be re-visited again and again....and still again. These season sets are essential for any fan of "Classic TV".