On October 3, 1961, CBS debuted The Dick Van Dyke Show to audiences during the 9 p.m. hour. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review of the premiere is below.
Probably the most encouraging start of any new comedy series in the past 12 months, this debut had most all the necessary ingredients that add up to a winner.
Sure to catch on as a new personality is Dick Van Dyke who, though he can play it straight when need be, proves a master of the double take, juicing up to solid laughs what would possibly be just amusing lines with his physical reactions. Yet, he doesn’t over-mug. In this one, his “drunk husband” bit was a masterpiece of timing and ingenuity.
Producer-writer Carl Reiner has surrounded Van Dyke with just about the funniest and most capable group of comics assembled for a half-hour series. Van Dyke essays a chief gagwriter (for a TV comic we’ll ostensibly never see), and his gag aides are Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. One scene, involving all three with Richard Deacon, who plays a “frustrated producer” on the series, was so loaded with wit and rapid-fire exchanges, it paled a following domestic scene between Van Dyke and his wife (Mary Tyler Moore).
Though funny — and Miss Tyler is most capable and fetching — the couple’s hassle as to whether they should or should not go to a party seemed to stretch interminably. Moppet Larry Mathews is good as the only child in the Van Dyke kitchen — precocious, but not overly cute with his lines. He’ll wear well. And so should this series, not just for this season, but for more seasons to come. — Hank Grant