Series creator Carl Reiner picks his 10 favorite episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show
The comedy legend picks his favorite moments
The Dick Van Dyke Show remains one of the funniest sitcoms of all time. That timelessness came somewhat by design. Creator-writer Carl Reiner made a point to avoid contemporary pop-culture references and Sixties slang. For that reason, Rob and Laura Petrie feel and act like a modern couple — perpetually. Of course, the writing had to be sharp and honest in general, too, and performed to perfection by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
We asked Carl Reiner himself for his 10 favorite episodes of series.
It's hard to find fault with his picks, which include not only highlights of the series but some of the best moments in sitcom history. Mary Tyler Moore on a pile of nuts! Dick Van Dyke with a stuffed giraffe under his chin! Carl Reiner losing his temper — and his hair!
Here are the picks. Do you agree?
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1. "Coast to Coast Big Mouth"
Season 5, episode 1
Laura accidentally reveals that Alan Brady is bald — live on television — while she is a contestant on a game show. Reiner is not the only one who highly rates this fan-favorite. TV Guide magazine once ranked it No. 8 on its 100 Greatest Episodes list. Throughout the first three seasons, Reiner's Alan Brady was an unseen character, heard without showing his face. Brady at last revealed himself in season four, but this episode marked his meatiest moment on the sitcom. The scene with Brady and Laura, in his office, before an array of toupees, remains a side-splitting classic.
2. "That's My Boy??"
Season 3, episode 1
The series three premiere flashes back to the birth of Richie. Rob had his hands — and neck — full. That might explain why he accidentally took the wrong baby home.
3. "It May Look Like a Walnut"
Season 2, episode 20
An alien named Kolak, played by Danny Thomas, comes to Rob, threatening to steal his thumbs and his sense of humor. The episode would later inspire the creation of Mork (Robin Williams) on Happy Days. The image of Mary Tyler Moore sliding out of a closet on an avalanche of walnuts remains an indelible image in our minds.
4. "The Curious Thing About Women"
Season 1, episode 16
Laura has a bad habit of opening up Rob's mail. So he ships home an instantly inflatable raft inside a box. The plot bore many similarities to a 1952 episode of I Married Joan, "Joan's Curiosity." Writer Frank Tarloff earned a credit on both episodes.
5. "Never Bathe on a Saturday"
Season 4, episode 27
Laura gets her big toe stuck in a bathtub faucet while on a romantic vacation with Rob. This episode marked Reiner's final solo writing credit on the series. In fact, he wouldn't write for another episode at all until the series finale. Behind the scenes, filming was stressful, as Mary Tyler Moore walked off the set at one point. Reports vary as to why, blaming her irritability on quitting smoking to being upset about having to act largely offscreen. It's all moot now, as the episode is a riot.
6. "Where Did I Come From?"
Season 1, episode 15
Where do babies come from? Rob and Laura tell their son about the day he was born, in a series of flashbacks, when he pops the dreaded question for all parents.
7. "October Eve"
Season 3, episode 28
Reiner may not have shown his face as Alan Brady on the show until season four, but he did pop up as other characters, like the painter Sergei Carpetna. The artist paints Laura — without her clothes on. Which causes Rob to freak out a bit when the painting goes on display in a gallery.
8. "All About Eavesdropping"
Season 3, episode 5
Rob's coworkers, brilliantly played by Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam, made this a trailblazing workplace sitcom. But the domestic stuff was just as funny. Jerry (Jerry Paris) and his wife Millie (Ann Morgan Guilbert) go overshadowed as the friends and neighbors. Here, Rob and Laura eavesdrop on a private conversation between Jerry and Millie via Richie's intercom.
9. "4 1/2"
Season 4, episode 7
Don Rickles guest-starred as crook Lyle Delp in this two-part episode. The first half sees Rob, Laura and Delp stuck in an elevator, and features an impressive bit of physical comedy as Rob tries to climb to freedom on the cables in the elevator shaft.
10. "The Alan Brady Show Goes to Jail"
Season 4, episode 8
In part two, Rob is tossed in the clink, mistaken for a real criminal. He tells his new cellmates about his showbiz career and bothers the guard, played by Allan Melvin (The Phil Silvers Show).