The Dick Van Dyke Show, “The Night the Roof Fell In”

The Dick Van Dyke Present
Season 2, Episode 9: “The Evening the Roof Fell In”
Unique Airdate: Nov. 21, 1962

Sadly, John Whedon’s script for “The Evening the Roof Fell In” finds itself in a tough predicament. On one hand, it’s largely wonderful, using its Rashomon-like construction to ship frequent and remarkably efficient comedic moments.

Whereas it could not fairly attain the extent of brilliantly escalating humor present in “My Husband is Not a Drunk,” the joke writing on this episode stays among the wittiest and most amusing we’ve encountered within the sequence up thus far, which is not any small feat.

Nevertheless, right here lies the difficulty: the ending would at all times battle to stay as much as the previous content material and fall quick.

I’m not suggesting that it’s unimaginable to craft a satisfying conclusion for a half-hour comedy episode with this kind of narrative construction (there are possible episodes which have efficiently achieved this), however it’s an exceptionally difficult activity, and Whedon doesn’t fairly nail it.

Why does the ending fall quick? Basically, it boils all the way down to a scarcity of considerable stakes throughout the story Whedon selected to relate. Narratives using this construction typically necessitate some type of framing story.

This explains the unconventional narrative strategy and gives a way of decision to the assorted flashbacks.

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Evaluation: The Dick Van Dyke Present, “The Evening the Roof Fell In”

Within the case of “The Evening the Roof Fell In,” it doesn’t encounter any points with the primary facet. The episode presents three distinct variations of a major argument between Laura and Rob: an goal account relayed by one of many couple’s pet fish to its tank companion (or not less than, it’s assumed to be goal since a fish has no purpose to lie), and two variations recounted individually by every of the individuals to their buddies.

This setup is completely logical and successfully establishes the episode. Due to this fact, the issue lies elsewhere.

The Night the Roof Fell In
Episode “The Evening the Roof Fell In” stills

The episode encounters difficulties when it’s tasked with returning to the framing story and addressing the problems it has launched. On this regard, “Rashomon” faces no such issues.

Its stakes are nothing wanting probing questions on human nature and the capability for decency in folks.

With out gifting away any spoilers for Kurosawa’s cinematic masterpiece, I can say that his movie concludes on a deeply profound and impactful notice that elegantly addresses this thematic core.

Nevertheless, “The Evening the Roof Fell In” is a sitcom episode somewhat than a haunting cinematic drama.

Consequently, its ending is predicted to vary considerably in tone. However, contemplating an episode that showcases such delightfully refined and intelligent humor, is it unreasonable to anticipate one thing greater than only a sentimental and predictable reconciliation scene? I don’t imagine so, regardless that I’m unsure if a greater various exists.

Maybe injecting a couple of extra jokes into the conclusion may have made it really feel much less cloying. Because it stands, the ending merely falls quick compared to the intelligence and wit displayed all through the remainder of the episode.

Whereas in “Rashomon,” the conclusion is a second of serene grace which you could’t envision the movie with out, right here, the ending looks like an unsubtle, saccharine dose of sugar that overwhelms you with its sweetness in a somewhat inelegant method.

This predicament is an inherent problem throughout the format, primarily as a result of comedies, particularly these on community tv, sometimes goal to conclude with the established order largely intact.

Nevertheless, in an episode with an unusually intricate construction like this one, the easy decision crafted to reaffirm the established order can’t assist however really feel underwhelming.

This disappointment is magnified, in a way, as a result of it contrasts sharply with the episode’s total unconventional strategy, a distinction that may not have been as pronounced had the complete episode adopted a extra standard path.

It’s unlucky as a result of “The Evening the Roof Fell In” is an exceptionally humorous and intelligent episode main as much as that time. It cleverly flips the Rashomon narrative construction on its head by presenting the seemingly most goal account of the story first.

Episode "The Night the Roof Fell In" stills
Episode “The Evening the Roof Fell In” stills

This preliminary presentation serves to amplify the comedic impression of Rob and Laura’s subsequent exaggerations. In Rob’s recollection, he envisions himself behaving very similar to Fred Astaire, whereas Laura paints herself as a close to saint and Rob as “wild.”

All through all three retellings, varied incidents and contours of dialogue resurface however carry considerably completely different connotations relying on the storyteller.

For instance, in Rob’s model, he gracefully avoids tripping over an ottoman and lovingly expresses his fondness for it to Laura. Conversely, in Laura’s model, he stumbles over the ottoman and launches right into a tirade about how she prefers the ottoman over him.

Within the goal model, he journeys over the ottoman however refrains from ranting to the identical extent. This dynamic use of perspective provides depth and humor to the storytelling, making it a spotlight of the episode.

The Ending Did Not Justify The Present, Why?

The comedy in “The Evening the Roof Fell In” shouldn’t be as advanced as another reveals, however the connections between the three tales are intelligent and entertaining. The episode could get a bit messy in the direction of the tip, however it’s nonetheless a stable addition to the show’s second season.

The contradictions between the completely different variations of the story produce some laughs, as do the performances of Moore and Van Dyke, who play their characters in over-the-top style. This episode is an early and profitable try to use the influential construction of Rashomon to tv comedy.

It will not be the final, as many different sitcoms have since adopted swimsuit. All of those reveals owe a debt to The Dick Van Dyke Present, which has influenced so many facets of tv comedy.

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