Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy 50th Anniversary to "The Dick Van Dyke Show"!

The Flaming Nose TV Blog is super-pleased to be participating with The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear and their terrific The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon, on today's 50th Anniversary of the classic sitcom.  Blogs and writers from all over the net are adding their contributions as tribute to this great show, and we're going to spotlight one of our favorite episodes -- "I'd Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head at All", an episode coming near the end of the show's third season (out of the total five). 

Ever since men starting noticing male pattern baldness -- sometime past Neanderthal times, as they seem to have had plenty of hair all over -- it's been an ongoing anxiety for a lot of guys.  Maybe today it's even hard to imagine what all the fuss is about, since bald is distinctly beautiful these days, but also since "The Hair Club for Men" is still in business, the "yikes" factor must be alive and well at least for some fellas.  Star Dick Van Dyke's casual remarks wondering about his own hair status inspired writers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff to pen this memorable episode, a half-hour firmly rooted (har-har) in both everyday life and also wildly imaginative at the same time. 

Maybe we'll just go through the basics of the episode -- though you really need to watch it to fully absorb all the comic moments -- to whet your appetite.  It's fun looking at screengrabs, too!

After Rob finds a lot of hairs in the sink, he thinks he's going bald and Laura tries to reassure him.

Rob goes into work and Buddy and Sally also try to talk Rob out of his fixation, and they use the argument that lots of men are more attractive bald.

Mel Cooley arrives -- "Well, you just lost your argument..."

Buddy gives Rob the name of Irwin the Barber who has a great reputation as a hair loss specialist.
He starts to look over Rob's head of hair.

He assesses the "elastic-ness" of Rob's hair, among other tests.

After careful consideration, Irwin makes his diagnosis.
"Good roots -- lousy papilla."

"So that's the whole story on a nutshell."  Irwin recommends a course of treatment -- his own formula with several "ingrediments"...

Olive Oil and Vinegar. "So who's to say what's silly? Irwin asks.

"When I put it on my hair -- do I comb it or toss it?"

Once Home, Rob does some exercises to bring blood to his head.

And Laura helps him arrange his towel around his smelly hair...

...which of course is cumbersome and he looks like a nut. After a night's sleep, he wakes up.

And underneath the towel he is completely bald!

"I did tell you not to use that stuff..."

Rob tries to figure out if he is dreaming, or if Laura is dreaming.

"Did you shave my head as a joke?...I know what it is...severe shock!"
"What kind of a shock did you have?" she asks innocently.
"You don't call going bald a shock??!"

"You go to Irwin and get your money back..."

"Honey, is this really a dream?"
"Of course it's a dream, darling. Now you go to Irwin and get your money back."
"Yeah. I'm gonna go get my hair back!"

He gets some new stuff from Irwin, with "the miracle ingrediment P.S. 138"
"What is it?"

"Tastes good and is good for you!"

"Hiya Baldy, we've been waiting for you!"

"It's not a dream!"
"It is, too!"
"If it was a dream you wouldn't have gone to all the trouble to come down here in your jammies!"

"Rob, I told you I was going to knit you a toupee and I did! It's Mohair!"

"Right...'cos you got no-mo-hair!"

"What's the matter" Is it all messed up?"

Rob: "Lettuce?!"
Sally: "Well, if you use salad dressing you can't expect to grow meatloaf!"

"Now you'll have to sleep with your head in the refrigerator!"

"Where's my hair???"

"Rob, thanks for your hair!"

"Darling, you're having a bad dream."

"And this is the second time I've wakened in it!"
"Well, it's no wonder, you slept with that silly turban on. That would give anyone a nightmare."
"That's just what you said in the dream!"
"Rob, come on, let's take that turban off and wash your hair..."

Yep. He's bald again and Laura faints.

"Honey, wake up, you're having a nightmare..."
"Am I awake?"
"Well, sure you are."
"Are you?"
"Sure. I'm awake."

"Rob...don't ever take off that towel."

"Because under it, you're either bald or you have a head of lettuce!"

"Oh, Rob!"

"That beautiful brown helmet!"

"You were worried about me losing my hair and I go to the doctor once and looks what happens!"
"Ohhh, Rob...oohhh Rob!"

"I guess I could use a good night's sleep, too!"

"I'd Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head at All" is part of that delectable selection of episodes from The Dick Van Dyke Show with dreams featuring prominently.  It's a terrific device for allowing crazy situations that otherwise would have strained the credulity of a series that was very much realistic while still being uproariously funny.  The humor in 'I'd Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head at All" stands up to the test of time -- fifty years (almost) of time, and that's impressive.  The Dick Van Dyke Show feels as contemporary as it did five decades ago, and it's that timeless excellence that makes watching the show a pleasure today, and will continue to make it work even more decades from now.  If we've piqued your appetite to watch this episode, check it out on Hulu or Netflix!  A special shout-out, of course, to actor Ned Glass who played Irwin the barber -- the acting veteran of hundreds and hundreds of roles was a particular delight here.
Congratulations on 50 great years to The Dick Van Dyke Show, and thanks to The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear for coming up with the great idea for this blogathon!


Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

This has long been one of my favorite DVD episodes because I'm pretty sure it introduced that time-honored TV device of "the double dream sequence." In fact, it was one of the earliest episodes I remember watching and when the still-bald Rob came out of that bathroom with Laura having fainted in his arms, I did a double take and the kid equivalent of "WTF???"

Lisa, thanks ever so much for agreeing to be a part of the blogathon...I loved this essay, and you know, of course, the key to any successful blog post is a judicious and wise use of screen caps. I apologize for not getting this up on the list o'links sooner...I was taking a breather last night watching an Odd Couple rerun and the next thing I knew it was morning. Thanks again!

Lisa said...

I hope you didn't have any dreams -- or double dreams -- last night!

The Blogathon was wonderful and we'll all be savoring the posts for a long time! Great idea and do some more, please!

Jane said...

Ohhhh Rooooobbbb! I grew up listening to Laura's plaintive sigh of exasperation. The DVD show was a staple in the Collins household and we would discuss favorite episodes endlessly. Funny how (for a show about a suburban couple) so many of the episodes were absurd or surreal. My favorite was the one where Rob falls asleep in his office and dreams about aliens. I believe walnuts were involved.

Hey nice comment from Ivan S. I love how he calls your post an essay. I'm reading a book about E.B. White, considered the greatest essayist of all time. He was the foremost blogger of his day!

Lisa said...

I want to particularly point out Ned Glass's adorable performance, and I wonder if his malapropisms like "ingrediments" and "on a nutshell" were written by Persky and Denoff or added by
Glass? If they were written they were hilarious -- if they were improvied they were equally hilarious! Delightful performance!