Category Archives: Dick van Dyke

F is for Falling

Kilgore Falls, MD

My 81-year-old mother fell coming into her house last week. My sister who lives with her says she’s fine, and that’s good news, of course.

Even before hearing that news, I was thinking about the topic. On one hand, the fall is the lifeblood of physical comedy. Watch out for that banana peeeel! The role of the comedian, going back generations, perhaps millennia, was to take a tumble.

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was The Dick van Dyke Show. As you can see here, Dick would either trip over the ottoman, stumble over it, or neatly evade it.

And YouTube is chock full of people taking a tumble.

Conversely, One in three adults 65 and older falls each year in the United States. In 2005, 15,800 people 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls; about 1.8 million people 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized, again in the U.S. And that doesn’t even touch on falls from elevation.

This brings me to LifeCall. From the Wikipedia: The motivation behind the systems is that subscribers, mostly senior citizens, would receive a pendant which, when activated, would put them in immediate contact with a dispatch service, without the need to use a phone or other household device…

So far so good.

In 1989, LifeCall began running commercials which contained a scene wherein an elderly woman, identified by a dispatcher as “Mrs. Fletcher” uses the medical alert pendant after having fallen in the bathroom. After falling Mrs Fletcher speaks the phrase “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” after which the dispatcher informs her that he is sending help.

Taken at its face value, the commercial portrays a dangerous situation for a senior, with perhaps dire consequences…

The “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ad had the double misfortune of being unintentionally campy and appearing often on cable and daytime television. The fact that the commercial was a dramatization (as clearly stated in the beginning of the commercial) using rather mediocre acting also contributed to the humor. The combination made “I’ve fallen… and I can’t get up!” a recognized, universal punchline that applied to many comedic situations. All of these factors made the ad memorable, ensuring the line’s place in pop culture history.

The commercial’s punchline has also been appropriated by members of faith communities.

My final falling reference (briefly) will be falling in love. One could discuss ad nauseum what that really means. But I’ve had stuck in my head a song by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers called “Falling in Love with Love.”

“Falling in Love with Love is falling for make-believe!
Falling in Love with Love is playing the fool!” Here’s Julie Andrews singing Falling In Love With Love.
Falling Creek, GA

Note: I had a bunch of photos put aside for the post which I CANNOT FIND. Photos taken from government websites.
ROG

Perfect television


Friend Fred was telling me about rewatching the Dick van Dyke Show on DVD (DVD on DVD) when I came to the realization why it was the near perfect TV show. In addition to lasting five seasons (not too long, not too short, but JUST RIGHT – kinda like some fairy tale), and and a balance of home and work life, there was a balance of how many times the A story was the office and the B story was the home life, and vice versa. Because Rob Petrie was friends with his co-workers, they would sometimes come to his home. Because Laura Petrie was such a fine dancer, she’d occasionally show up in the work segment. Balance, I say. And did I mention that Richard Deacon, who played producer Mel Cooley, was from Binghamton, my hometown?

If I wasn’t so far behind on watching what I’ve recorded, I’d be coveting that DVD box set; I do have some individual episodes. As it is, Lydia’s sleeping pattern (taking FOREVER to get to bed, and then with her mother or me), and I’m so tired that the writer’s strike has had no effect on my viewing patterns yet. News programs are not affected. Aliens in America’s a repeat? GREAT! Pushing Daisies is pre-empted this week? SWELL! As it is, the DVR’s STILL hovering around 80% because I’m still recording a couple hours a day, with the news and JEOPARDY! And I’m watching about 40 minutes a day; even with the compression of the DVR, that’s about an hour’s worth of programming. (The Closer two-hour special this week is now in the queue.)

But the largest reason the DVR’s so full is that when I was packing to go to visit my mother in NC, I accidentally packed the remote control in my luggage! This means that over that nearly six day period, my wife couldn’t watch the two shows she watches that I don’t: ice skating and Dancing with the Stars. They’d get recorded, but could not be watched. I suggested that she might want to go to Time-Warner and get a new remote, but she declined. Practically the first thing I did when I got home from that trip was to check the DVR level – 97% full, zap the three shows I managed to see in Charlotte, which got it down to 92%, then whittle away at it subsequently.

So don’t tell my wife who won Dancing with the Stars; she doesn’t know yet. She picked Helio, Mel B., and Cameron in the final three, but was surprised to see Cameron leave. Now, *I* know who won; I read it in TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly, but I won’t spoil HER fun.
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Dorian’s Rules for Nerds. And other self-appointed critics.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Gordini

The blogger Scott, husband of Marcia and father of Nigel, one of those people who still cares about the NHL, was kind enough to ask:

1. What do you think are the chances of us seeing another “Subway Series” this October?

You must have me mistaken with someone who has any idea. I had the St. Louis Cardinals losing every round they played (and won) last year.

That said, highly unlikely. In fact, much to my surprise, I think the Yankees have a better chance of getting there than the Mets, much to my disappointment. I’m rooting for the wild card to come out of the NL West (and for the Mets to win their division) because I think THEY think they can’t beat the Phillies in a second round matchup, whereas the Yankees could beat Boston, if they get past the first round. Though the Yanks have had a difficult time with the Angels this season, so if the Angels beat the Red Sox, the Yankees may be in trouble. Incidentally, yesterday was the centennial of the birth of original Angels’ owner, Gene Autry.

(When you asked a few days ago, the Mets were up by 2 games. Now they’re tied with a game to go, with no guarantee that they’ll even get IN the playoffs.)

2. What do you consider your favorite TV Drama of all-time?

Quite possibly St. Elsewhere, although Hill Street Blues and Homicide are up there. My favorite show as a kid, though was the Defenders, a lawyer show with E.G. Marshall and a pre-Brady Bunch Robert Reed. I was also fond of East Side/West Side with George C. Scott. There was an anthology show called The Bold Ones, and The Senator segment with Hal Holbrook was great, got Emmy love, but it lasted but a season. Was Twilight Zone a drama? That gets its own special mention.

3. What do you consider your favorite TV sit-com of all-time?

The Dick van Dyke Show. The perfect balance of home life and work life. Great physical comedy by DVD. MTM’s capri pants. And Richard Deacon from Binghamton, NY. Lasted five years – not too short, not long enough to wear out its welcome, which I’m afraid M*A*S*H, arguably a better show in its prime, did for me.

Though I must give some consideration to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, with a magnificent evolving cast, also did home and work well, as did, now that I think of it, the Bob Newhart Show, the one where he plays the shrink.

A comedy that evolved into a good show was Barney Miller, which scrapped any real pretense of a home life after the first season (Barbara Barrie played Barney’s wife), and found its voice.

4. What scares you the most about Lydia growing up?

I suppose I’m dreading that inevitable teenage period when she thinks I’m an irrelevant, archaic druid. But I have to say that the great thing about having no idea what you’re doing as a parent – in that most of my preconceived notions about fatherhood could be tossed into the Dumpster – is that I don’t think too much about her Growing Up; I’m trying to take care of her Now.

I am reminded, again, about racism and racialism. I had never heard the latter term until I watched some Nelson Mandela speech right after he was released from prison. Some people use the terms interchangeably, but I feel a distinction. To me, racism is blatant inequity under the law or in society; e.g., the Jena 6 charged more harshly for their crimes than the white students who had assaulted black kids. Whereas, racialism is more the “damn fool” things people say and do, such as Bill O’Reilly.
I just started reading Anti-Racist Parent. By “just”, I mean yesterday; interesting stuff.

Back to TV: Lydia decided just this week that she wanted to put on her right sock, then her right shoe, left sock and left shoe. This reminded me of a conversation that Mike Stivic had with Archie Bunker (a sock, sock, shoe, shoe guy) on All in the Family; that was a good show, too.
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Meanwhile, blogger Gordon, newly re-minted Chicagoan, podcaster, and most importantly, March Piscean, writes: “OK, well, here’s a question that I think you can answer: do you ever have a moment where you think ‘I’m so full of hot gas?'”

Immediately, I started writing this rambling epic indicating how there are several areas where I have no opinions at all, that the opinions I do have are often based on reason and experience, and that I don’t love the sound of my own voice as much as many do. I noted how, in keeping with a conversation he and I had privately, that I read other viewpoints; in fact, I spent some time this week listening to some of the speeches on the White Nationalist News Network, which I found by clicking Next Blog.

I addressed how an old girlfriend accused me of Male Answer Syndrome, which I rejected, not because it wasn’t possibly true, but because the thing I was answering (about alpacas being more pleasant than llamas) I actually DID know from research in my job. (And not so incidentally, claims that I have MAS has dropped SIGNIFICANTLY since I appeared on that game show. And there was other stuff about my good listening and observing skills.

But, sure, OK, don’t we all feel like we’re fakin’ it sometimes? Don’t at least many of us feel as though we’re about 11 and are pretending to wear grown-up clothes periodically?

So, Gordon, I could have just said “Yes.” But somehow, I thought you wanted a little more than that.
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Oh, and another one of my favorite reads, Tom the Dog, who has been on one more game show than I have, says nice things about me. Right back at you.

ROG