This week marked the 50th anniversary of one of the two best sitcoms of the 1960s, "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
On my personal list, "The Andy Griffith Show," which hit its half-century mark last year, is the other one.
They couldn't be more different, Griffith's show was slow and leisurely, relying less on jokes than on character development and stories that unfolded over its half-hour weekly run.
Van Dyke's show was faster, suburban and urbane, powered by smarter, quicker one-liners, frequently from Morey Amsterdam's Buddy Sorrell, and traditional physical comedy from Van Dyke, himself.
Griffith's Mayberry was a throw-back to what was, even then, a nostalgic past. Van Dyke's setting was at the heart of the hopeful JFK '60s.
Both, of course, are clearly part of TV's past. But both still pack plenty of laughs. Both shows are respectful of the characters they've created.
Of the two, I have to rate "The Dick Van Dyke Show" a bit higher. It ended its run in 1966, after five seasons of success. "The Andy Griffith Show" stayed on after one of its two most important components, Don Knotts, left.
After that, the show is more a silly country comedy (a genre that filled CBS' lineup in those days). It made the transition to color at the time, so you can readily see when an episode comes on whether it's worth sticking with.
TV Land is airing multiple episodes of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" this week at 5 p.m. to mark the anniversary. You can also find it regularly at 7:30 p.m. weeknights on Me-TV (Channel 49.1 over the air and Channel 19 on Time Warner and Charter Cable, and Channel 49 on AT&T U-verse and the two main satellite services.)
Here's some bloopers and outtakes from the show:
A measure of Wisconsin's bit sports weekend: Nielsen Media Research overnight numbers show that nearly a quarter of a million southeast Wisconsin TV homes were tuned to Channel 12 for Saturday night's UW Badgers win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
That was the biggest audience for a University of Wisconsin game on Channel 12 since 2007, according to Channel 12.
The Packers win on Sunday pulled in more viewers – nearly 400,000 households – for Channel 58. That's a relatively normal crowd for a regular season game.
As for the Brewers, I don't have final numbers, but TBS doesn't have as large a potential audience as an over-the-air broadcast would.
On TV: There's talk, still unconfirmed, that Madonna's headlining the Super Bowl half-time show on Feb. 5.
- After he went on Fox News Channel and compared the president to Adolf Hitler, ESPN went and yanked Hank Williams Jr.'s "Monday Night Football" theme song. No word yet on whether it's a one-time penalty.
- Netflix has added the entire run of ABC's old "The Wonder Years." The show never made it to DVD, thanks to music rights issues.
- While continuing his "Up All Night" role, Will Arnett will return to NBC's "30 Rock," according to TVLine.com.
Lifetime offers repeats its Amanda Knox docudrama: In the wake of an Italian court freeing Amanda Knox from her murder conviction, Lifetime is repeating its docudrama outlining the story of the Seattle college student accused of being involved in the death of her roommate at 8 tonight.
It's followed by a documentary on the case at 10, and the whole deal repeats at midnight.
It will be updated with the details of the story's resolution.
In the meantime, here's a little of it:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.