Dick Van Dyke looking surprised
Movies - TV
The Risky Dick Van Dyke Show Episode That Transformed ‘60s TV
The third season of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" kicked off with Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) worrying that his wife had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital.
As there was another new mom named Mrs. Peters down the hospital hallway, Rob suspected that the baby Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) had was mixed up with the other woman's.
Only satisfied by talking to the Peters family, Rob invites the family over. His theory explodes in a moment when he discovers that the Peters are African Americans.
The 1963 episode aired at a time of severe civil unrest throughout the country, and people were on edge with the nightly news depicting a violent and terrifying racial divide.
Some cast members were anxious about how the studio audience would react when the Peters walked through the Petries' front door. Indeed, the reaction is utterly fascinating.
Had this been an "All in the Family" gag a decade later, the Peters' entrance would've immediately sent the audience into hysterics. Instead, there's an awkward silence.
Mr. Peters (Greg Morris) tries to defuse the tension by corpsing, but it isn't until Laura smiles and invites Mrs. Peters inside that the audience laughs and applauds.
According to the show's creator, Carl Reiner, the only people who objected to the episode were the network's standards-and-practices watchdogs.
"They were worried that it might be racist, that Black people would be upset," Reiner told the New York Times. "That was an unusual thing for them to be worried about."