The Dick Van Dyke Show
Season 1, Episode 23: “The Twizzle”
Original airdate: Feb. 28, 1962
For most of “The Twizzle,” I wondered if it was one of the few Dick Van Dyke episodes that I had never seen before. I think there are a few of them over the course of the show’s five seasons, and this one seemed like it might be the first.
It’s possible that I had somehow only seen the ending (the only part of the episode that I vaguely remembered seeing before) without seeing the rest of the episode. Maybe it was on TV one day when I was a kid, and I switched to the channel just in time to see the last ten minutes or so.
But it’s more likely that it just didn’t make much of an impression on me. You would think that an episode with a long dance scene in a crowded bowling alley would at least be interesting, but it’s not for the most part.
The main problem with the big dance number is that it’s too long (or at least it feels like it is). It’s initially enjoyable to watch the characters get caught up in this potential new dance craze, but the novelty wears off quickly.
The title song is catchy but not particularly musically or lyrically interesting, which means that the scene relies almost entirely on the energy of the actors. They do their best, but they’re better when they’re performing for an audience (like Rob was in “Father of the Week“) rather than trying to look like they’re just having fun dancing.
I don’t think Dick Van Dyke ever tried another scene like this again, and I’m glad because it doesn’t work.
The actual plot of The Twizzle, which is about getting Randolph Eisenbower (also known as Randy Twizzle) to perform the song on The Alan Brady Show, doesn’t really work either. At first, everything seems fine, but then Randy refuses to sing the song unless he can also sing another song.
It turns out that Randy is a very gifted singer, so we’re treated to another musical sequence where he sings a ballad.
Also read: Review: The Dick Van Dyke Show, “The Night the Roof Fell In”
The song is decent enough, but it’s not good enough to justify another couple of minutes where the show’s funny characters don’t get a chance to be funny.
Another thing that hurts the episode is that Randy is a fairly boring and uninteresting character. We don’t learn much about him, which is strange given how much time we spend with him.
It’s not as if the show can’t create good one-off characters; it’s already done so on multiple occasions, with Jackie Brewster from Buddy, Can You Spare a Job? being perhaps the most memorable so far. Randy just isn’t.
He’s a nice guy, but aside from that, he doesn’t have a very interesting personality. Making him the main focus of an entire episode is a bad idea.
He does spend a lot of time singing, which solves one problem but leads to those two boring musical scenes, which are arguably the worst parts of the entire episode.
I did laugh a few times during “The Twizzle,” but mostly at things unrelated to the main plot, such as Sally quoting Aunt Agnes’s expressions. This is almost never a good sign.
The episode devotes about a quarter of its running time to fairly dull musical numbers, and when it’s not doing that, it’s often trying to get us interested in Randy’s story, largely at the expense of Laura and Rob (although Sally and Buddy still get some good material).
This is far from the worst episode of Dick Van Dyke so far, but it’s not a particularly good one either.