Monday, October 3, 2011


Half a dozen episodes (at least) of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' dealt with Rob's life in the Army, stationed at Camp Crowder, Missouri. Because the show was about Rob's life as a comedy writer and at home, the Army flashbacks played an important role in that life because a good part of them dealt with his courtship and eventual marriage to the USO showgirl, Laura Meehan.

We also got to meet several of Rob's Army buddies - Sol Pomeroy, Sam Pomerantz, ANOTHER Sam Pomerantz, Sam Pomeroy, Sol Pomerantz, and Harrison B. Harding. (Hey, with all those "P" names, how did Harry The Horse get in there?) Throw in Rob Petrie and you might think Camp Crowder had been staffed through a clerical error - only with soldiers whose names began with "P".

Somebody on staff at the show must have really liked those "Pom" names - Pomeroy, Pomerantz... If Camp Crowder had a mascot, it was probably a Pomeranian... named Pompey.
We met Sol Pomeroy (played by Marty Ingels) in the "present" day as well as in a flashback - "Sol And The Sponsor" and "Oh, How We Met On The Night That We Danced", respectively.

And Sam Pomerantz, played by Henry Calvin, was seen in a "present" day episode which rewarded him with the episode title: "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals".
Harrison B. Harding was also seen in the "present" day ("Harrison B. Harding Of Camp Crowder, Mo."), and so that - as with Sol and Sam - verifies his presence in the "real" Toobworld. (Technically, he was also in the episode "Oh, How We Met On The Night That We Danced" - he's basically the camera's P.O.V. during the dance sequence since he was running the spotlight.)
Alan Melvin played Harry the Horse Harding and he played those other three Army buddies - Sam Pomerantz, Sam Pomeroy, and Sol Pomerantz. But all three of the Pom-Poms appeared only in flashback; either Rob narrated a story from his past, or somebody read excerpts from his autobiographical work in progress.

Even as a kid, long before I came up with the Toobworld concept, the idea that there were so many similar-looking characters with similar names bothered me. For me, there could be only one Sam Pomerantz and that was Henry Calvin. Likewise, Marty Ingels was the only one who should be named Sol in the show.

Where was their Continuity Girl? Why couldn't they make up their mind as to whether he was appearing as Sam or Sol? Pomeroy or Pomerantz? One splainin of course is that they had no clue back then, as we've seen with 'I Love Lucy', that there would be a future for the reruns on DVDs and in syndication. And that there would be O'Bsessive fans like me out there, poring over every single detail of the series.

Say....  If there are Trekkies for 'Star Trek', would there be Dykies for 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'? 
No, I didn't think so.....

One solution I toyed with at least cleared up the Zonk about him playing Sam and Sol Pomerantz. First off, there was no connection to Henry Calvin's version of Sam - Camp Crowder was a large group of men and at least one name should have repeated among the troops. (Although you might think it would be a John Smith or a Tom Jones.) But one splainin could have been that Sol and Sam Pomerantz were twin brothers, both assigned to Camp Crowder.

But... I don't think that's it.
All but three of Allan Melvin's characters appeared in flashbacks. Harrison B. Harding was seen in the "present" day, and the Gun Drummer of the penultimate episode "The Gunslinger" was seen in Rob's anathesia-influenced dream. As for Guard Jenkins in "The Alan Brady Show Goes To Jail", we're just removing him from this splainin entirely. Something about him - unseen by the audience viewing at home in the Trueniverse - was visible to fellow TV characters that marked him as different from any other Allan Melvin character on the show.

The thing about flashbacks is that they're subjective; what we're seeing is one person's perspective. So when Buddy and Sally were reading the excerpt from Rob's autobiography about his trip back to his hometown to break it off with Dorothy ("Will You Two Be My Wife?"), their idea of what Sam looked like may have been influenced by what they remembered of Harrison B. Harding when they met him over a year before.
But I don't think that's it either. I just wanted to present all of the options.

In his second appearance on the show, Allan Melvin was simply referred to as Sam - no last name given.

A Sam... no last name given? Come on, if you know me as a fanatic about possible TV crossovers, you must have figured out where I'm going with this!

He was Sam the Butcher from 'The Brady Bunch'!
Now, his full name on that show was Sam Franklin, but I think all of his Sams and Sols, his Pomeroys and Pomerantzes (Pomerantzii?) were all Sam Franklin. Unless..... We'll get back to that.

Why was he referred to by those other names then? I think Rob was telling those stories from a faulty memory - all those falls from tripping over the ottoman took their toll. He was getting Sam Franklin confused with his other two Army buddies Sol Pomeroy and Sam Pomerantz.

If the names cropped up in his written stories, they were from first drafts and Rob would clean it all up in rewrite. And here's that "Unless...." - Although we saw Allan Melvin in those episodes, maybe it really was Sol Pomeroy or Sam Pomerantz who was involved in those stories. If Rob could forget such details in his accounts, how many other errors could have been in that autobiography? After all, we know he lied about what Dorothy really looked like - she was more like Toby Pedalbee of 'Dream On' rather than the Cinnamon Carter clone from 'Mission: Impossible' whom we saw. Hopefully - speaking of Toby Pedalbee - Rob would have a good editor there at Whitestone Publishing. That's right, we're making a theoretical link to 'Dream On'! (I may write more on that as this "Long Night's Journey Into Day" continues.....)
Anyhoo, having seen the newly svelte Harrison B. Harding after all those years (and basically for the first time because Harry was always behind the spotlight), eventually Rob thought of Sam Franklin who had a resemblance to Harry The Horse. So maybe that's why he popped up in so many of Rob's flashbacks.

By the way....

It could also be that there really was a third soldier on base who looked like Sam Franklin and Harrison B. Harding. We just never saw him.

At the end of the episode "Honeymoons Are For The Lucky", we found out who stole the bottles of cooking wine at the base - a soldier named Henshaw.

Corporal Steve Henshaw used to be Sgt. Ernie Bilko's right-hand man at Fort Baxter in Kansas, as seen in the series 'You'll Never Get Rich'. As you probably already knew, he was played by Allan Melvin.

Henshaw's first appearance in the Bilko series was in September of 1955. According to the "Petrie Chronologie" which I'm working on, Rob was out of the Army by the end of 1951. So Henshaw may have been transferred out of Camp Crowder and shipped to Fort Baxter. There Bilko would have gotten wind of the wine swipe and saw the potential in having Henshaw by his side....

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