FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Recently, the producers of the CBS hit sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” made a cast change. Actress Erinn Hayes, who played the role of Donna Gable (TV wife of Kevin James), was dropped from the series moving forward this upcoming season and her character written off the series. In her place, the producers added Leah Remini as a series regular playing an undercover police woman who was Kevin’s former partner on the show. As you know, Remini played James’ wife Carrie Heffernan on the CBS hit series, “The King Of Queens” which aired on the network from 1998 to 2007 with 206 episodes (you can still see King Of Queens weeknights at 11pm on TXA 21).
When I heard this, all I could think of was two successful CBS sitcoms from its past: The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Want to know why?
As you know, Van Dyke and Moore were teamed up as Rob and Laura Petrie in 158 episodes from 1961-1966. Van Dyke was the head writer of The Alan Brady Show (Carl Reiner) and Laura was a stay at home wife and mother with that famous reaction to bad news, “Oh Rob!!”. Four years later in 1970, CBS picked up a sitcom from Moore and her husband Grant Tinker (later President of NBC Entertainment) about a single woman starting a new life as a TV producer for WJM-TV in Minneapolis. As the story goes, CBS wanted to convey that Mary Richards was just that: single, maybe a broken relationship, but not divorced. The network didn’t want to risk having viewers thinking that she had divorced Rob Petrie! In 1971, Van Dyke starred in “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” as Dick Preston, a talk show host on a local Phoenix AZ television station, with his wife (Hope Lange) raising kids that was the main focus of the show. 72 episodes were made and ran on CBS from 1971-1974.
So there you have it. Enjoy this clip from the Dick Van Dyke Show with Carl Reiner and Mary Tyler Moore from September 15, 1965 in “Coast To Coast Big Mouth.” One of the best episodes made from the series!