“Nothing is expected to last in this throwaway society,” Carl Reiner said. “It is amazing that things do have a second life.”
Reiner was reminiscing about the longevity of his Emmy-winning series “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which aired on CBS from 1961 to ’66 and is currently in reruns on Nick at Nite.
Begining Monday, it’s “Carl on Camera” week on The Dick Van Dyke Show, as the week’s episodes will feature Reiner. Four episodes will show Reiner as Alan Brady, the obnoxious, demanding star of comedy writer Rob Petrie’s (Van Dyke) show. (The fifth features Reiner as a bearded artist who once painted a portrait of Laura.)
During the first two seasons of “Dick Van Dyke,” viewers saw only the back of Brady’s toupee-clad head. Originally, Reiner, the show’s co-creator, producer and writer, wanted to cast a star in the role of Brady, but couldn’t think of anybody to play that part.
“I knew I had been a second banana on ‘Your Show of Shows,’ but if I played Alan Brady myself, (the audience) would say, ‘He is not a real star. He’s a second banana.’ So I gave him a name, turned him around and I used the back of his head. He became an offstage force. We needed that power upstairs that scared people.”
When the series began to involve the Brady character more, Reiner thought it was time to put a face to Alan.
“It wasn’t fair to the scriptwriters, including myself, not to see the face of the person delivering the lines. By that time my ego was not as tender and I said, ‘I could play a star.’ So I turned myself around. It was really to make the shows more viable. I only did one every 12 or 13 weeks. I was too busy writing them.”
One of Reiner’s favorite Brady shows is when Alan’s toupee was mentioned in public. “It was supposed to be a secret,” he said. “But I always admitted I wore a toupee from the very first time I was on ‘Your Show of Shows.’ I didn’t have that ego, but we thought Alan Brady would.”
Brady, Reiner said, was not based on any single person. “In those days there were a lot of comedian-stars of variety shows and none of them was as bad as Alan,” he said. “Milton Berle was known to be a tyrant--he would blow a whistle and yell at people. Phil Silvers was a noisy one. I worked with Sid Caesar for nine years and everybody thought I might be doing Sid, but Sid was a pussycat compared to this guy.”
Reiner admitted he never enjoyed playing Alan. “I love being obnoxious, but I didn’t enjoy the time it took to get on the set and rehearse, because I was always running up and down from my room and rewriting the next week’s show. So I really didn’t enjoy the show as much as after it was done. Doing the show was a chore.”
During the first two years of the series, Reiner wrote 40 out of 60 episodes. “If I did have an outside writer I did all the rewrites,” he said. “The reason I wrote so many was that it was more difficult to rewrite someone. I could write a new one in four days and it took me eight days to do a rewrite.”
Reiner said CBS has come to him about doing a “Dick Van Dyke” reunion show, a la the recent retrospectives the network has done on “The Bob Newhart Show,” “All in the Family,” “Mary Tyler Moore” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“I would like to do it in the future. I don’t want to just do one,” he explained. “I have seen a couple that were great and then I saw one where people just sit there and self-aggrandize themselves.”
Reiner, who has directed such films as “Summer School” and “Sibling Rivalry,” doubts he would ever do another TV series. “You never say never, but on a daily basis it’s very difficult work.” (Feature films are) far more relaxing and more fulfilling, as far as getting what you want on the screen without worrying about the networks saying, ‘You can’t do that.’ ”
“Carl on Camera” on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” Monday-Friday at 9 p.m. on Nickelodeon.
There’s more for marathon maniacs this holiday week:
Imagine if you will, 13 consecutive hours of your favorite episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” On Thanksgiving, KTLA will present its 12th Annual Thanksgiving Day “Twilight Zone” Marathon (Thursday beginning at 9 a.m.) featuring viewers’ requests.
Want a neat, petite, ooky Turkey Day? Spend it with everyone’s favorite ghouls who are now the stars of their own feature film, “The Addams Family,” opening in theaters Friday. KCAL presents The Addams Family Festival (Thursday from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.) and TBS also jumps on the bandwagon Friday with The Addams Family Special (7:05-9:05 p.m.)
Turn Turkey Day on with a smile with six hours of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on KDOC).
If “Green Acres” is the place you want to be, then check out the six-hour Green Acres Marathon (Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on KDOC).
Looney Tunes Pig Out (Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nickelodeon) features vintage cartoons of Bugs and Co.
TNT presents A Salute to the Outer Limits II (Saturday from 8 p.m. to 5:45 a.m. Sunday), featuring nine uncut episodes from the ‘60s series.