Monday, May 10, 2004

Oh, Rob! Has it been 40 years?

Van Dyke and Moore revisit 1960s classic

By Beth Harris
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - When Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner and Rose Marie got together for a reunion of The Dick Van Dyke Show, it was as if 40 years hadn't passed.

"It was all still there," Van Dyke said. "We did a lot of laughing."

Reiner, who created and wrote the series, for years had resisted CBS' overtures for a traditional clip show, with the actors sitting around talking about themselves.

Eventually, he settled on a story line and in a couple of days wrote what he called the 159th episode.

The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited airs 9 p.m. Tuesday on CBS (Channels 12, 7).

The original series, which ran for 158 episodes from 1961 to '66 on CBS, was considered one of television's classic comedies because of its writing.

"I stayed away from any slang of the day when we were writing these shows, knowing that it would have some kind of a life when we finished," Reiner said.

The series was set behind the scenes of a mythical TV comedy called The Alan Brady Show. Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) was the head writer and he worked with Sally (Rose Marie) and Buddy (the late Morey Amsterdam), both of whom were close friends of Rob and wife Laura (Moore).

The interplay between Van Dyke and Moore was so convincing, viewers believed they were married in real life.

"You can't but help love that man for the talent he has," Moore said of her co-star. "He was so good to me when I was just testing my comedy wings. I owe him and Carl Reiner everything." She said Reiner "allowed me to become the world's first funny straight woman. It was five of the happiest years of my life."

Rose Marie's Sally was a rarity in those days - a single woman who earned a living in field dominated by men.

"I was the first women's libber on TV," Rose Marie said. "A lot of girls told me they became writers because of me."

The hourlong special opens in the Petries' black-and-white living room. A colorized Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond walks in to reminisce before giving way to the Petries in present day.

The special catches up with the Petries 40 years after they were newlyweds living in New Rochelle, N.Y. Rob and Laura have moved to Manhattan, where Laura runs a dance studio in their home.

Rob gets a phone call from the neurotic Brady (Reiner), who wants his former writers Rob and Sally to pen his eulogy before he dies. He entices them with fat contracts.

"I've never done a heartfelt eulogy for someone with no heart," Van Dyke's character says.

Larry Matthews, who played the Petries' son, Richie, makes a brief appearance. Van Dyke's real-life brother, Jerry, who appeared in a few original episodes, is back and dating the Petries' neighbor, Millie Helper (Ann Morgan Guilbert).

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