Monday, October 03, 2011

This Week in Television History: October 2011 Part I

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As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

October 3, 1961
The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered on CBS. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. It was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. The music for the show's theme song was written by Earle Hagen. A three-camera/studio audience format was used during production. Carl Reiner originally planned to produce and star in the series, which was going to be titled Head of the Family. The pilot episode was written by Reiner in 1960, but it was unsuccessful.



The two main settings show the work and home life of Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head writer of a comedy variety show filmed in Manhattan. Viewers are given an "inside look" at how a television show (the fictitious The Alan Brady Show) was written and produced. Many of the show's plots were inspired by Reiner's experiences as a writer for Your Show of Shows, but though he based the character of Rob Petrie on himself, Rob's egocentric boss Alan Brady is less Sid Caesar (host of Your Show of Shows) than a combination of the more abrasive Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason, according to Reiner himself. Many scenes deal with Rob and his coworkers, writers Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie). Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon), a balding straight man and recipient of numerous insulting one-liners from Buddy, was the show's producer and the brother-in-law of the show's star, Alan Brady (Carl Reiner). As Rob, Buddy, and Sally write for a comedy show, the premise provides a built-in forum for them to be making jokes constantly. Other scenes focus on the home life of Rob, his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), and son Richie (Larry Mathews), who live at 148 Bonnie Meadow Road in suburban New Rochelle, New York. Also often seen are their next-door neighbors and best friends, Jerry Helper (Jerry Paris), a dentist, and his wife Millie (Ann Morgan Guilbert).

The series won 15 Emmy Awards. In 2002, it was ranked #13 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

October 5, 1950

The game show You Bet Your Life, starring hostGroucho Marx, airs its first TV episode.


The show had debuted on radio in 1947. Thanks to Marx's sarcastic humor andimprovised wisecracks, the show became a hit first on radio and then ontelevision. The show ran until 1961.

October 7,1960
Route 66 primered.

The show ran weekly on CBS from 1960 to 1964. It starred Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and, fortwo and a half seasons, George Maharis as Buz Murdock. Mahariswas ill for much of the third season, during which time Tod was shown travelingon his own. Tod met Lincoln Case, played by Glenn Corbett, late inthe third season, and traveled with him until the end of the fourth and finalseason.
The series is best remembered for its Corvette convertible and itsinstrumental theme song (composed and performed by NelsonRiddle), which became a major pop hit.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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