Tuesday, June 8, 2021

This Day in TV History: Dick Van Dyke fights "Harry's Battles"

40 years ago tonight, ABC aired an unsold pilot starring Dick Van Dyke, Connie Stevens, Danny Wells, and guests Florence Halop and David Ruprecht. Great news: As of today, it's on YouTube!

A Gannett newspaper piece that ran on the day of the premiere explains the story behind unsold pilots and networks running them with branding like ABC Comedy Theatre before delving into the show itself. Bill Hayden writes that the reason for the lack of success of Battles isn't obvious: "Starring Dick Van Dyke--a veteran star of two sitcoms and one variety hour--and Connie Stevens, this is an Americanized version of the successful English series "A Sharp Intake of Breath," which focuses on family's war with frustrating red tape and bureaucracy." He adds that, "The comedy leans towards the broad and physical," and though the first episode "is well done and often funny," he speculates the network thought it would be repetitive.

So this writer is not just giving a quick take on the show but guessing why it didn't get picked up as a series. You can judge for yourself thanks to uploader Dan Reese!

As for me, I think this is funny! I laughed multiple times, and even if the show ended up being "only" Dick Van Dyke ranting about things, well, I think that's worth watching.  I am intrigued by the idea of Joe Regalbulto showing up in all different walks of life as a different person who annoys Harry each week.

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