Dick Van Dyke reflected on the 2004 Dick Van Dyke Show reunion
Dick Van Dyke on the pros and cons of a reunion.
Very rarely do viewers get to see beyond a show's final episode. Sometimes creators or actors will speculate about where their characters ended up after the show has ended, but for the most part, fans are left to theorize on their own about where their favorite characters are headed.
Apparently, Carl Reiner had decided that we had theorized enough because, in 2004, members of The Dick Van Dyke Show cast reunited for The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, which finally let us know how our favorite family, The Petrie's were doing, along with all of their friends.
Dick Van Dyke gave us the inside scoop on the reunion special in his book, My Lucky Life In And Out of Show Business. He revealed that a reunion had not always been in the cards. He wrote, "For years, we had resisted the idea of a Dick Van Dyke Show reunion. Although we understood the desire fans and network executives had to see all of us back together, it never appealed to most of us. Those things generally don't strike the right note with actors."
Van Dyke did acknowledge the appeal of a reunion for fans but also considered it from an actor's standpoint. He commented, "Sure, fans get to take a nice, well-produced walk down memory lane and remember everything they loved about a show. They also get to see how everyone looks years later. But actors don't want to be reminded of what they have lost or who looks more pickled than preserved."
Moreover, Van Dyke was aware that the decision to write a reunion rested solely on Carl Reiner's shoulders, as it was he that everyone trusted the most. Van Dyke wrote, "The show had started with him writing a full season of scripts and it succeeded because of his genius as a writer." He continued, "All of us knew that our roles in the show started and ended with his desire to continue breathing life into the characters he had created for us."
So, when Reiner told Van Dyke that he was planning to reunite the cast for one more episode, Van Dyke was immediately ready to get started, with actors like Mary Tyler Moore and Rose Marie following suit. Van Dyke reminisced about the reunion, glad to see his old friends, but bittersweet in remembering the ones they had lost, like Sheldon Leonard and Richard Deacon.
While the reunion was well received, it didn't reach the level of acclaim that the original series had. Van Dyke wrote that most critics "called it average and urged fans to revisit the original. I agreed with that assessment too."
Still, Van Dyke seemed pleased with his role in the reunion. He wrote, "If Carl, in his mid-eighties, wanted to tidy things up, I was going to help...As long as we were able to enjoy ourselves, we had to do it."