Wives saved The Dick Van Dyke Show from cancellation

The Dick Van Dyke Show received assistance from an unlikely source.

Genesis International

Sometimes it seems like the people running television seem to understand it the least. Everyone has a favorite television show that was struck down in its prime and canceled before it was able to give viewers a proper ending. Some of these cancellations were actually to the detriment of the series itself; Gilligan's Island's abrupt ending meant that, at least within the show, the castaways had no hope of ever getting off of that island.

Sometimes, viewers get lucky, and the powers that be who control television manage to see reason. Other times, they're made to see reason, which works just as well as the former option, if not better. This was the case in a series like Gunsmoke, which was briefly canceled, only to be brought back at the behest of fans everywhere.

The Dick Van Dyke Show almost met an untimely end after a single season. This news was especially disappointing to creator Carl Reiner, who spoke to The Times about the show's beginning, end, and rebirth.

"The idea of our show is that the hero not only has a job, but he goes to it every day like a normal human being," Reiner said. "I used to watch all the successful comedy shows and unless the hero was a bachelor the writers never used his job to advance their story. On our show, it's Dick's homelife that's important, but we manage to get a good share of our laughs out of the office sequences and we use them to advance our plot or for plain old exposition. In my opinion, this has two distinct advantages...it makes the program funnier and easier to write."

But despite the ease and comedic timing of the program, Reiner made the decision to cancel the program. "We had a nice, loyal audience," said Reiner, "but the rating slide rules which tell the agency boys exactly how much it's costing them to sell their product apparently gave us the automatic axe."

Luckily, simple numbers couldn't compete with good old-fashioned audience interest, and The Dick Van Dyke Show had an audience in a place they might least expect. "We were given a brief reprieve because the guys in the agency found that their wives loved the show," Reiner said.

Luckily, that reprieve was long enough for executive producer Sheldon Leonard to convince the agency boys that The Dick Van Dyke Show deserved another shot, and the series lived another day.

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6 Comments

MadMadMadWorld 19 days ago
My longtime understanding in reading about the series, was in the Summer of 1962 (after the first season), the reruns got the ratings boost that saved the series from cancellation. Also, producer Sheldon Leonard personally appealed to the advertisers to keep sponsoring the series after the low first season ratings (16.1 , ranked: 80th) were known. Proctor & Gamble did that, partly because of the respect they had for Sheldon Leonard. He was an actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. P & G told CBS it would pull its vast amount of advertising from many of its daytime soap opera shows that also persuaded the network to keep The Dick Van Dyke Show on its schedule for the upcoming 1962-63 season. and was rewarded with higher ratings and into the Top 10: 27.1, ranked: 9th) in its newer mid-season (Jan.-Apr. 1962) time slot on Wed. 9:30pm ET.
cperrynaples 26 days ago
actually, it's easy to explain this: TDVDS was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, whose products were bought by women! They even threatened to take 4 popular soaps to NBC!
ncadams27 28 days ago
DVD premiered in 1961 on Tuesday night at 8. In mid season it moved to Wednesday at 9:30, where it attracted an older audience (i.e., the wives mentioned in the article). The following year it followed The Beverly Hillbillies and was #9 in the ratings.

By the way, Gilligan’s Island was one of the casualties when Gunsmoke was put back on the schedule.
justjeff 29 days ago
These are the same network executives who gave us such 'gems' as "Supertrain", "My Mother the Car", "The Hathaways" (with the Marquis Chimps), "You're in the Picture" (the bomb game show hosted by Jackie Gleason), "Makin' It" and many other forgettable broadcasts, but prematurely cancelled Star Trek and in 'the rural purge' caused the elimination of "Green Acres", "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction".

Many times, good shows get cancelled because these 'suits' think they should move a winner to a different day and time slot to shore up a weaker show, only to have their winner get swallowed up by the competition's ratings numbers...

Where common sense has always dictated "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"... corporate 'intelligence' seems to say "If we can't break it and then re-fix it, just cancel it"...😣
cperrynaples justjeff 26 days ago
I saw the pilot for YITP on YouTube, and it's actually funny! Maybe not as funny as Gleason's apology the following Friday, but still...
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