If you've been paying attention the last two weeks, you know that I'm caught up in the reruns bonanza (including 'Bonanza'!) that is ME-TV (as well as Antenna TV and to a lesser extent, TV Land.) Besides having old favorites like 'Perry Mason', 'Rockford Files', 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'Columbo', ME-TV has great promos for itself. (I tip my cap to their research staff for finding the appropriate clips.)
There's one particular interstitial that gets lots of play which features Alan Brady touting 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.
Not Carl Reiner. Alan Brady.
After all the time I spent this past year writing about 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', hopefully you'll remember that mentions of that classic sitcom in other TV shows are not a Zonk.
Alan Brady bought the rights to Rob Petrie's memoirs with the intent of adapting it as a sitcom for himself. The original pilot "Head Of The Family" is the result, and the only episode filmed. As it also played out in real life with Carl Reiner, the network was cool to the idea of Brady in the role of Rob Petrie. Hoping to salvage the project, Brady hired a young actor named Dick Van Dyke because he bore an uncanny resemblance to Brady's former head writer. And so it's the show within the show that everybody mentions.
So that's what Alan Brady is talking about - his own production of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', not Carl Reiner's.
But that's not what is interesting about that promo.....
According to the notes connected with that YouTube video, it first aired in October of 2007. About four years earlier, CBS broadcast 'The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited', a reunion special that reconnected the Trueniverse audience with Rob, Laura, Sally (and Herman), Alan, Millie, Rob's brother Stacey, and blink-and-you'll-miss-him Ritchie. But it was mentioned in the course of the show that Buddy, Mel, and Jerry had all passed away.
And yet in this 2007 promo, Mel is apparently still alive?
We hear a snippet of his dialogue from some episode and we see an outstretched arm. (Because of the death of Richard Deacon in the real world back in 1984, that was O'Bviously a recastaway.)
Alan looks at the off-camera Mel and asks, "What's the matter with you?"
Maybe he's a zombie?
No, even I'm not going there.
Alan Brady got himself a new flunky named Mel.
The only sticking point would be the use of Richard Deacon's voice, but haven't there been times in your own life when you heard somebody and thought it was someone else? That's what we're claiming in this case.
So who is this new Mel?
Alan Brady is a very demanding boss and as such would only want someone with experience in the TV biz to be his right-hand man.
So I have a candidate. I nominate Mel Price.
- He played hardball with Mary and Lou in their contract renegotiations.
- He hired critic Karl Heller to do an acidic arts segment on the Six O'Clock News.
- He fostered 'The Ted And Georgette Show'.
- And although not seen in the episode, Mel Price was probably responsible for getting Sue Ann's show 'The Happy Homemaker' canceled.
In the intervening decades, Mel Price probably had many other career opportunities in television. (For the suits behind the scenes, it must be a volatile job market.)
But by 2007, Mel Price could have been the Veep in Alan Brady's production company (which doesn't mean he's still working there now!)
Buddy would have loved to loathe him - the right-hand man for Alan Brady who's tall, bald, AND named Mel?