The Dick Van Dyke Show
Season 1, Episode 24: “One Angry Man”
Original airdate: Mar. 7, 1962
While it begins with more strength than it concludes, One Angry Man is a notably funnier episode than I had previously thought. I had recollected it as being quite awful, essentially a lackluster parody of 12 Angry Men that shifted much of its action away from its typical two settings, yielding fairly disappointing outcomes.
Some of those initial impressions still hold true, especially the scene in the jury room, which remains quite underwhelming. However, the remainder of the episode frequently provides much entertainment, albeit not reaching the level of brilliance.
The characterization of Marla Hendrix as a complete fool is not necessarily troubling from a feminist perspective.
The show has proven itself to be fairly egalitarian regarding which characters it portrays as idiots from week to week. While Marla’s extreme stupidity is not very funny, it is not egregious either.
Rob also behaves like a complete idiot in this episode, becoming so struck by Marla’s beauty that he makes a complete fool of himself in the courtroom. The courtroom scene is a masterclass in cringe humor, with Dick Van Dyke giving a great performance.
The moment where he falls out of the jury box is the comedic high point of the episode, and it is a difficult scene to top.
The scene where Rob comes home and tries to explain himself to Laura is also very funny. We have seen this sort of scene before, but it is still funny to watch Rob dig himself into a deeper hole with every word he says.
The episode is capped off with some great contributions from Sally and Buddy.
Overall, “One Angry Man” is a very funny episode with some great performances. The characterization of Marla Hendrix is not necessarily troubling, and Rob’s stupidity is both relatable and hilarious.
The courtroom scene is a masterclass in cringe humor, and the episode is full of other great comedic moments.
The jury room scene, where Rob is the sole holdout on a jury ready to convict Marla, is notably less humorous. In essence, it’s rather disappointing, although I did appreciate the direct reference to 12 Angry Men made by one of my fellow jurors at one point.
Regrettably, it concludes quite abruptly without any form of comedic payoff, and neither Rob’s attempts to persuade the other jury members nor their attempts to convince him to yield particularly funny results.
Essentially, everyone just argues for a while, and then it suddenly ends. It’s a missed opportunity because the subject matter had significant potential for humor.
Putting aside this particular scene, I found “One Angry Man” to be a much more enjoyable episode than I had anticipated based on my prior recollections.
The courtroom scene stands out as a cringeworthy masterpiece, and there are numerous moments of laughter scattered throughout the episode. Consider me pleasantly surprised.