Genesis International

Wives saved The Dick Van Dyke Show from cancellation

Sometimes it seems like the people running television seem to understand it the least. Everyone has a favorite television show that was struck down in its prime and canceled before it was able to give viewers a proper ending.

Some of these cancellations were actually to the detriment of the series itself; Gilligan's Island's abrupt ending meant that, at least within the show, the castaways had no hope of ever getting off of that island.

Sometimes, viewers get lucky, and the powers that be who control television manage to see reason. Other times, they're made to see reason, which works just as well as the former option, if not better.

This was the case in a series like Gunsmoke, which was briefly canceled, only to be brought back at the behest of fans everywhere.

The Dick Van Dyke Show almost met an untimely end after a single season. This news was especially disappointing to creator Carl Reiner, who spoke to The Times about the show's beginning, end, and rebirth.

"The idea of our show is that the hero not only has a job, but he goes to it every day like a normal human being," Reiner said. "I used to watch all the successful comedy shows and unless the hero was a bachelor the writers never used his job to advance their story. On our show, it's Dick's homelife that's important, but we manage to get a good share of our laughs out of the office sequences and we use them to advance our plot or for plain old exposition. In my opinion, this has two distinct makes the program funnier and easier to write."

But despite the ease and comedic timing of the program, Reiner made the decision to cancel the program. "We had a nice, loyal audience," said Reiner, "but the rating slide rules which tell the agency boys exactly how much it's costing them to sell their product apparently gave us the automatic axe."

Luckily, simple numbers couldn't compete with good old-fashioned audience interest, and The Dick Van Dyke Show had an audience in a place they might least expect.

"We were given a brief reprieve because the guys in the agency found that their wives loved the show," Reiner said.

Luckily, that reprieve was long enough for executive producer Sheldon Leonard to convince the agency boys that The Dick Van Dyke Show deserved another shot, and the series lived another day.

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