The Official Dick Van Dyke Book

It is certainly appropriate that TV Land held a marathon of The Dick Van Dyke Show all last week — October 3 was the 50th anniversary of the series premiere on CBS.  It’s also appropriate that the show is now on at a regular time: 7:00 pm each weeknight.  It is also certainly appropriate  — and much deserved — that a new and revised edition of The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book has been released in time to celebrate the show’s golden anniversary.
This is a big anniversary — seriously, in the short history of television and entertainment, this one show has influenced more people than I can imagine — including myself — and I suggest that you visit the blog of Mark Evanier, an L.A. writer, who not only loves The Dick Van Dyke Show, but understands how important it has been in the scheme of things.  His blog is here, and his recent Van Dyke-related sites are here and here.
This book is is the best and most comprehensive book that I wish every good tv show could have.  Twin Peaks deserves this treatment.  Hill Street Blues, M*A*S*H, Twilight Zone, The Avengers, Dark Shadows — the best and the most-loved all deserve books as thorough and as sheer fun as this.  Author Vince Waldron has surpassed this book’s previous incarnations, including in its contents the words to the show’s theme song (written by Morey Amsterdam), a bittersweet account of the show’s emotional final days, a comprehensive episode guide, and even a few paragraphs about the 2004 reunion show.

In short, this is the perfect book for the tv comedy geek in us all.  Get it here — but not at Barnes & Noble . . . and I’ll tell why in a later post.

Straight from the Silver Screen

I was no older than six when I saw Mary Poppins at a long-gone theater in downtown Hampton, the Langley.  It’s also where I saw Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster.  I remember both imperfectly, but I do remember that Ghidrah scared the living shit out of me, and that Dick Van Dyke was the most magical man in Hollywood.

I do clearly remember two moments of discovery during that first showing of Mary Poppins in 1964.  I was a kid, and slightly bored during the bird-feeding scene.  Yet I knew even then that that segment was incredibly beautiful and incredibly good, and the scene and the song remain some of my very favorite movie moments.  The second moment of discovery is during a banking scene.  The elderly bank president has a few lines, and I saw behind the make-up that it was Dick Van Dyke.  What struck me is that one actor was allowed to play more than one part in the same vehicle, and I remember thinking this forty-six years ago in my kid-sized PF Fliers, striped t-shirt and shorts.  Maybe that explains part of the appeal the Eddie Murphy/Klump movies have had in recent years — this generation is charmed that one actor can do so much in one movie.

It also says a lot about Dick Van Dyke, who, along with Robert Preston and Patrick Macnee, as far as I’m concerned, could simply never do wrong.

Mary Poppins is now being performed on stage in L.A.  And guess who made a cameo appearance as the bank president.  Here’s the story, and thanks to Mark Evanier and his incredible blog for the heads up.