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Mon., Oct. 3, 2011, midnight

“Dick Van Dyke Show” anniversary

The first episode of the classic sitcom aired 50 years ago today. The show is back on TV Land as of this afternoon, with multi-episode blocks.

Much has been written about the landmark series. But here's why I think it worked.

1. Rob Petrie was smart, funny and always likable. 2. Rob's workplace was an entertaining counterpoint to New Rochelle domesticity. 3. Richie Petrie's on-screen time was limited. 4. Laura Petrie wasn't just beautiful. She was, given the make-believe context, remarkably human. 5. Consistently top-notch writing. 6. Most adult viewers knew a Mel Coulee, a Jerry Helper and an Alan Brady. 7. Instead of the usual wildly over-the-top sitcom stuff (think "I Love Lucy"), the Petrie household was plausibly normal. Well, except maybe for the separate beds. And some of the home entertaining extravaganzas. 8. Most of the regulars could act. 9. One of TV's all-time best musical themes. 10. You could tell Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore actually liked one another.  

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