A few years back, TV Land reunited the wonderful cast of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" for a new episode of the series, titled, "The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited."
That cast included Van Dyke (as "Rob Petrie"), Mary Tyler Moore (his wife, "Laura"), Rose Marie ("Sally Rogers," good friend and former writing colleague for "The Alan Brady Show"), Ann Morgan Guilbert (Laura's best friend and neighbor, "Millie Helper"), Larry Matthews (little "Richie Petrie," son of Rob and Laura) and Carl Reiner (who, besides playing Rob's boss, "Alan Brady," also served as the DVD show's producer and writer).
Also along for the ride was Jerry Van Dyke, who made several appearances as Rob's brother, "Stacey," who today, is dating Millie, as her husband, dentist "Jerry Helper," played by the late Jerry Paris (who also directed several episodes of the show) has now passed away.
Loyal fans of the original "Van Dyke" series may also have noticed key guest actors who made re-appearances in "Revisited", such as Bill Idelson , who played "Herman Glimpshire," Sally's boyfriend, to whom she is now married.
Unfortunately, Morey Amsterdam, who played the quick-witted "Buddy Sorrell" and Richard Deacon ("Mel Cooley," Buddy's foil and Alan Brady's producer and brother-in-law) were no longer alive to join in on the reunion.
But to the credit of writer Carl Reiner, Buddy, Mel and Jerry's presence was still quite prominent in "Revisited." This new segment had to do with Alan Brady wanting to hire Rob and Sally to write his eulogy while he was still alive to enjoy it (and because they did such a good job at Buddy and Mel's funerals).
A little macabre, yes - but somehow it worked. And there was a lot that worked about this new episode of the series. It was quite funny, and it was certainly great to see everyone together. But...
1] The opening scene had Richie, how all grown-up answering the phone at his Mom and Dad's house, which is now is. Apparently, they sold the house, moved out, and then Richie bought it back from the people who purchased it, and moved back in. That would be fine, but...the original furniture from the 1960s was still seen in the house. Rob and Laura never bought new furniture after 1966 (when the original show went off the air)? And then the people who bought the house still kept that original furniture into the 21st Century? I don't think so.
2] Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Carl Reiner, Jerry Van Dyke and Ann Morgan Guilbert all seemed to fall right back into their characters. But Mary Tyler Moore seemed to be playing "Mary Richards," her other famous weekly TV sitcom character from her own series, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS, 1971-77).
3] Everyone looked great, but just a touch of black hair dye and contact lenses for Ann Morgan Guilbert as Millie would have made all the difference in the world. She was SO on-the-money as Millie, but here she looked like Laura's mother (as opposed to her best friend).
4] Ray Romano should have pretty much been left out of this project. Sure, TV Land wanted a big star to be involved with this show, but he kinda' just gets in the way here. Let's just stick the original characters, nix all the nonfiction reality stuff, and get right to the fictionalized story.
5] At the end, we see the actors Dick and Mary waltz onto the living room set from the series. But we really wanted to see the characters of "Rob" and "Laura" do that instead.
All water under the bridge, and all of it can still be fixed with yet one more "Revisit" to "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
What if Richie's daugther (who we apparently saw in the dance class that Laura now presides over as teacher in Manhattan) was now getting married -right at the same time that Stacey and Millie decide to tie the knot. The result. A double wedding that will bring everyone back to New Rochelle for one more episode?
That would be wonderful. There would not be any need for clips from the original show (which were displayed in "Revisited"), and no big star would have to serve as host. We can watch the reruns or DVDS if we want to see the original episodes, and let non DVD actors appear in their own reunions for their own shows.
Just run the original opening credit sequence (with Rob tripping over that ottoman), and revisit "The Dick Van Dyke Show" - as a new, self-contained episode...one more time.