Sunday, April 1, 2012


A lack of sleep could not only be dangerous to one's health, but it could also lead to bouts of tele-cognizance on the part of a TV character.

A recent example of that occurred in an episode of '30 Rock' ("Grandmentor"). The new page at NBC, Hazel Whassername, let TGS star Tracy Jordan stay awak as long as he wanted - even though he would go crazy if he didn't get his full 14 hours a day of sleep.

As if to prove this argument by former page Kenneth Parcell, Tracy Jordan suddenly shouted from his dressing room: "We're in a show within a show, and I'm Tracy Morgan!"

Tele-cognizance is a dangerous thing; too much of it could lead to the collapse of the TV Universe

We've seen this correlation between sleeplessness and tele-cognizance before - in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. (Bet you were wondering when we'd get around to that......)

As seen in a flashback, Rob Petrie had his first audition for 'The Alan Brady Show' after successfully completing a stint as a radio deejay on the air for 100 hours without sleeping. Naturally this led to complications when he met Alan Brady and Mel Cooley.

100 Terrible Hours

And it probably had long-term effects as well. Apparently, Rob Petrie developed serlinguism, the ability to talk to the people of the Trueniverse - our world.

At one point, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' was sponsored by Kent Cigarettes; and like a lot of TV shows back in those days in connection to their own sponsors - 'The Farmer's Daughter', 'I Love Lucy', 'The Andy Griffith Show', 'The Adventures Of Superman', etc. - the cast was integrated into the commercials as their characters. So those blipverts have to be taken into consideration as part of the overall 'DVD Show' content.

Here's a compilation video of the commercials they made; I'm assuming this is all of them:

Two of those commercials we have to exclude from consideration as being part of the world of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. Those would be the two which feature the cardboard display of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and all the boxes of Kent cigarette packs. In the first, Dick refers to the picture of Mary as "Mary" and then kisses his "wife". In the next one, they refer to each other as "Dick" and "Mary".

These two commercials should not part of the Earth Prime-Time, main Toobworld universe. They belong in that TV dimension which reflects the TV line-up of our world as TV shows; the world in which we in the Trueniverse get to see the behind-the-scenes machinations that go into the making of those TV shows. This is the alternate TV dimension in which we would find those "making of" docu-dramas about 'Three's Company', 'Mork & Mindy', 'Dynasty', 'Steptoe And Son', etc.

I said they should not be part of the main Toobworld, but I suppose the argument could be made that Rob was suffering a bout of tele-cognizance similar to Tracy Jordan's in '30 Rock'.  It could be that he was not only serlinguistic at this point but that he knew he was being played by Dick Van Dyke in another universe.  And he was forcing Laura to go along with his "madness" and pretend that she could see the home audience and that she was actually Mary Tyler Moore.

It would certainly splain why Laura appears so nervous in the commercial.  She probably was going to call Dr. Jacoby as soon as she could escape from the office.....

With those two ads removed, there are two others that might give us pause. The first one is easy enough to splain away - Rob can be seen sitting on the desk with Sally sitting behind it. He looks to be talking to the camera about the pleasures of smoking Kents while she surreptitiously steals his pack of cigs. But in fact, Rob is talking to an imaginary camera, acting out what Alan Brady might say to the home audience of his show when he eventually extols the qualities of Kents, which happen to be his sponsor.

But then there's the Christmas Kent commercial. Let's look at it again.....

This plays out like all the other Kent blipverts that have been integrated into 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'... until the very end. That's when Rob suddenly turns to the fourth wall and urges the audience to give Kent a try.

There is no imaginary camera this time. He's actually using serlinguistic skills to address the audience of the Trueniverse. As for Sally looking out that way as well, it's O'Bvious that she's looking for whatever/whomever Rob is addressing. But whatever is on that fourth wall from her perspective (probably a wall full of mementos and the entrance to the office bathroom), that's all that she's seeing. Her smile can then be interpreted as being a sickly one of fear that her boss is losing his marbles.

So this could be a symptom of the long-lasting effects from Rob staying awake for over 100 hours, even though that happened back in the 1950's.

Then again, it was the Christmas season, and TV characters do seem to become serlinguistic around that time.....

If such a premise doesn't jibe with your perception of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', then remember on what day this Video Weekend entry is being posted. Simply think of it as an April Fool's joke....


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