With Carl Reiner’s passing on the age of 98, so ends one of the vital essential and impactful careers in tv historical past. Few figures loom as giant in popular culture historical past as Carl Reiner, the best way he crafted jokes, scripts, movies—the whole lot he created was hilarious.
Of the whole lot he completed in his 60 yr profession, Loads goes to be written about The Dick Van Dyke Present—and rightly so. What Carl Reiner contributed to tv, simply with that present alone, is immeasurable. The leap ahead for tv comedy, sitcoms particularly, that Reiner navigated and executed can’t be understated. While you watch a sitcom with multi-faceted characters, with pure dialogue, with jokes so sharp but so actual, you’re seeing writers including bricks to the inspiration that Reiner laid when he created The Dick Van Dyke Present in 1961. If I Love Lucy was Chuck Berry, then The Dick Van Dyke Present was The Beatles.
Reiner wrote over 50 episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Present’s iconic run. That features masterpieces like “My Blonde-Haired Brunette,” “Who Owes Who What?,” “Ray Murdock’s X-Ray,” “By no means Bathe on Sunday,” the Emmy-winning “The Plots Thicken,” and the weird genius of “It Might Look Like a Walnut.”
However Reiner was extra than simply the brains behind The Dick Van Dyke Present. When he stepped in entrance of the digicam as Alan Brady, the obnoxious egomaniac performer on the middle of the present inside a present, magic occurred. If you wish to see Reiner at arguably the peak of his comedic energy—properly, watch the episodes that I listed above, for one factor. However if you wish to see him carry out, actually carry out, watch Season 5’s “Coast to Coast Large Mouth.”
One other Emmy-winning episode, “Coast to Coast Large Mouth” is proof that The Dick Van Dyke Present nonetheless sizzled in its closing season. It’s a straight up hilarious episode, a showcase for Mary Tyler Moore at her most frantic and Reiner at his most chaotic. Within the episode, Laura (Moore) by accident lets it slip that TV star Alan Brady (Reiner) wears a rug. Oh—and he or she lets it slip on nationwide, reside tv. The fallout that ensues is a masterclass in comedic performing, and one of the best instance of why Reiner—an IRL TV author—had the chops to play The Dick Van Dyke Present’s resident blowhard celebrity throughout from a bunch of performers enjoying fictional TV writers.
Reiner stuffed Alan Brady with legit menace, his presence made extra menacing by his rare appearances on the present. He was usually spoken about, usually heard offscreen, however solely seen in a dozen or so episodes. However when he appeared, be careful!
The confrontation between Laura and Alan is a tense delight, because the apocalyptically offended Alan screams at Mel, Laura, a phone, actually something inside arm’s attain. The alternatives Reiner made, the best way Alan Brady commiserates together with his lineup of toupees like he’s saying goodbye to previous consuming buddies, is the stuff of sitcom legend. It extra than holds up as we speak, and when Reiner begins piling wig-on-wig-on-wig like a reverse Roxxxy Andrews? That’s it. That’s the person that modified tv, absolutely reveling in enjoying a raging megalomaniac.
However what’s nice about this scene is the way it demonstrates that Carl Reiner the performer—a bald man that actually did put on a rug on TV—had one thing that Alan Brady by no means had. Reiner turned one thing he may’ve been insecure about, and possibly was at one level insecure about, and constructed an entire episode round it. Alan Brady wouldn’t be caught lifeless and not using a hair unit on his head, however Carl Reiner did what wanted to be finished in service of one of many funniest scenes to ever air. The person knew what was humorous, and TV was funnier—and is funnier—due to him.