Saturday, May 23, 2009

Andy Griffith / Dick Van Dyke : Same timeline

I had recently seen Andy Griffith in a marvelous performance in the indie film "Waitress." He did this film a couple of years ago playing a lovable but crusty cafe patron. Yesterday, I saw Dick Van Dyke make an appearance on "The Bonnie Hunt Show." It dawned on me that with all of the celebrities of yore that have passed on lately, these two guys are still going strong. And then I pondered on how their careers paralleled. I have lots of free time.

1960-1968: "The Andy Griffith Show" CBS. Major hit.
1961-1966: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" CBS. Major hit
Both produced by Sheldon Leonard with connections to Danny Thomas and Desilu studios.
Andy Griffith was a spinoff from the Danny Thomas Show and Dick Van Dyke had similar styling to the Danny Thomas Show.

Both guys left hit series in the late '60's. Then in the early 70's both came back. Both on CBS.
After Griffith failed in a comedy-drama "Headmaster", he immediately did "The New Andy Griffith Show" in 1971. He tried to rekindle the old magic with some of the same writers and similar small-town settings. It didn't work.
Van Dyke came back with "The New Dick Van Dyke Show." Also in 1971. But this show had many format changes over a three year run and never really found its legs. Also created by Carl Reiner with inside TV jokes.

Then in the early 70's, both made controversial made for TV movies for ABC.
In "Pray for the Wildcats," Griffith played a crazed businessman that takes three cohorts on a motorcycle trip through the desert. He was nuts.
In "The Morning After," Van Dyke (in a semibiographical performance) played an alcoholic. Very dour stuff.

In the eighties and nineties, both guys would come back playing in detective/lawyer shows.
Griffith: Matlock
Van Dyke: Diagnosis Murder

Both Griffith and Van Dyke are TV pioneers.

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