Monday, October 3, 2011

The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon: “The Life and Love of Joe Coogan"

Following along with the format of my previous review (of “Bupkis”), I’m going to highlight a few scenes and lines that I especially love from this episode. If you wish to watch this episode, you can do so free (and legally!) on Hulu.

This review might be a little shorter because I’m getting kind of tired. :)
"The Life and Love of Joe Coogan" is on Season 3, episode 17
Once again, Rob manages to evade the ottoman (fans of the show know that a few intros were filmed—some where Rob trips over the ottoman and some where he doesn’t.)

**This review does contain spoilers!**

Here is a summary of this episode to give you an idea of what it’s about:
Rob, Buddy and Mel have what they consider the most enjoyable round of golf they ever played, the enjoyment in large part to their stray fourth, a man they just met at the club named Joe Coogan. Good looking Joe mentions that he is single, has never been married and has only been in love once in his life while in college, coincidentally to a woman named Laura. As Rob and Joe discuss the issue further, Rob comes to the quick conclusion that Joe's Laura is also Rob's Laura, which he doesn't tell Joe. When Rob confronts Laura about why she's never mentioned Joe, Laura has to admit that she's kept some mementos of her relationship with Joe, namely love sonnets he wrote to her. Rob, on the other hand, is obviously hurt and jealous. His jealousy may increase when Laura, who has to come to the understanding why she kept the poems, decides to run into Joe ‘accidentally’ at the golf course...” (from IMDb)
Joe: "Some people can't play their regular game when they know who I am."

There are a lot of crazy jealousy plots in the series (something that Dick and Mary
commented on in an interview). It’s formulaic, but still fun.
Laura: "Rob, would it make you happy if I burned them? Is that what you want? You just say the word and I'll burn them."
Rob: "Burn them."
Laura: "No sir, not if you're going to take that attitude."

Laura shows Millie the shoe box of sonnets
Laura: "Men just aren't as sentimental as women."
Millie: "Well, I disagree. You never see a woman with a heart tattooed on her forearm saying 'mother', do ya?"

Laura: "What am I gonna do?"
Millie: "About what?"
Laura: "About the sonnets, Joe Coogan, my husband, my guilt."
Millie: "Well, I'd say: keep the sonnets, keep your husband, get rid of your guilt and see Joe Coogan again."

Later, at the golf course, Laura finds out Joe is a priest and invites him
over for dinner.

Mary Tyler Moore does such a great job playing baffled and nervous in this scene.

Laura calls up Rob at work to tell them that Joe is coming for dinner.

Rob, however, still doesn't know that Joe Coogan is a priest. (Laura "just happens" to leave that little detail out in her phone conversation with Rob.) Rob is upset about Laura inviting Joe to dinner so he asks Sally to come to flirt with Joe (neither of them knowing, of course, that he’s a priest).

Rob: "Sally, what are you doing tonight?"
Sally: "Nothing, but I think I can get out of it."
Sally: "What's he look like?"
Rob: "Oh, he's a cross between Gregory Peck and Stewart Granger."
Sally: "Eh, that ain't too bad. What's his name?"
Buddy: "Stewart Peck."

Sally: "You've got a vengeful streak in you've never noticed before."
Rob: "It's been in there for years I just keep it under control, that's all"

Look how pretty that table setting is. I always think the parties they have on
this show look like so much fun.
Rob comes home and finds out about Joe.
Rob and Laura nervously await Sally's arrival

Sally: "Where's this tall, good-looking…*sees roman collar*…PRIEST! you wanted me to meet?"

Rob's face here cracks me up.

My favorite scene is the last one, when Laura realizes the sonnets weren't written to her at all—they were written to God. In his poetry Joe was telling Laura that "he planned to dedicate his life to God." I love the closing line of this episode, where Rob tells Laura: "Look at it this way, you lost him to a better man." :)

One reason I chose to review this show is because I love how it handles the faith aspect. I find it notable for how respectfully it deals with Catholicism. The characters treat the priest with dignity, and religion and belief in God is not scorned at. This is an attitude that is rare to the point of extinction in today’s television sitcoms, so it’s refreshing to see how it’s handled in here.

This episode was written by the show’s creator Carl Reiner. Jerry Paris, who also played Jerry Helper on the show, directed (I’m sorry he’s not in any of the episodes I reviewed because I just love his character!). This is also one of the episodes that was shown at the recent 50th anniversary event held with Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke, which fellow blogger Laura (not Laura Petrie :)) was lucky enough to attend.

When I was looking up information about this post, I came across a site for an opera based on this episode. Yes, that's right--an opera! If you're really curious, you can find clips of the performance on YouTube. I'm not quite sure what to think of it, but it's definitely one of the more random things I've heard lately!

One thing I noticed when preparing this posts is how well this series holds up on closer examination. Often when I watch the shows, I'll have them on in the background while I'm doing something else. But when I sit down and really study them I notice how truly brilliant they are. The comedic acting is spot on, and so many of the little touches—right down to the bit parts—make this show stand out as a timeless classic.

I was going to prepare a third post for this blogathon but instead I will just put some links here.
  • Did you know The Dick Van Dyke Show theme song had lyrics? Written by Morey Amsterdam (Buddy on the show) you can listen to Dick Van Dyke sing the song here. (I saw a different video of this awhile ago but this is the best one I could find today.)
  • There is a great Tumblr for all things relating to TDVDS. You can find quotes, graphics, and pictures there. In case you ever wondered what the sets looked like in color, you can find some photos there! Also check out this site for more graphics.
  • Here are some fun sound clips from the show.
Thank you to Ivan for hosting this wonderful blogathon. I can't wait to read everyone else's submissions!


  1. Where's this tall, good-looking PRIEST! you wanted me to meet?

    Rose Marie's delivery of that floors me every time.  It is truly a thing of beauty.

    Which is one of the reasons why I love The Dick Van Dyke Show so much...I'd kill to meet a gal like Sally, who was no half-starved fashion model but a vibrant, funny, intelligent woman who you just know was probably a tigress in the sack (not trying to be crude, it's just something I believe).  I also enjoyed how you admitted you had a thing for Jerry Helper, because I revealed in the comments on the blog of another blogathon participant how Millie and I would carry on behind his back if they were my next-door neighbors.

    Audrey, I want to thank you gigantically for helping out with the blogathon -- your admiration and enthusiasm for the series really shows in your writing, and you performed above and beyond the call of duty with two entries (I was ready to call it a day after penning two myself!) so get a nap in and many thanks again.  Your contributions were a pleasure!

  2. I knew I'd forget something before I posted that comment -- I love your banner for my blogathon...I should have farmed them out to you in the first place!

  3. I have to admit, I've never seen an episode of The Dick van Dyke Show!  I'm not sure that it ever airs over here (like a lot of older American shows such as I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.) and, although I knew of Dick van Dyke from several films and Diagnosis Murder, I'd certainly never heard of the show until probably this time last year. I think I'll have to watch an episode! :D

  4. Interesting review, Audrey. Jealousy plots are a dime a dozen on sitcoms, but kudos to the show for turning in a rather sweet take on it. Don't look so sad, Laura, it worked out for the best!

  5. Thank you, Audrey, for a great post about a superb tv episode. I first watched this episode yesterday, and I believe that it's one of the best inspirational / God-based episodes of retro tv history. My other choice in that category is a 2-part episode of The Fugitive (1963, with David Janssen) titled "Angels Travel Lonely Roads". I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys good black and white entertainment. It, like this DVD episode, is subtly, yet very, inspirational.

  6. Thank you for the nice comment! (I miss writing on this blog and interacting with fellow old movie and TV enthusiasts.) I would love to see The Fugitive. It's been on my to-watch list for a while, and now I am even more eager to see it!Thank you for letting me know about that episode. I will be sure to look out for it!


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