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TELEVISION & RADIO | TELEVISION REVIEW

Paging Rob, Sally and Buddy

Crusty 'Dick Van Dyke Show' boss Alan Brady returns in animated form with moldy jokes.

August 16, 2003|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Talk about a flat comeback.

Alan Brady, host of the show within the classic sitcom "The Dick Van Dyke Show," returns in TV Land's computer-animated special "The Alan Brady Show" (Sunday night at 10), plenty caustic but surprisingly lacking in wit.

Carl Reiner reprises his role, in voice-over form, as Brady, the cantankerous boss who could drive Van Dyke and his fictional writing team batty on the 1960s original. Reiner also wrote this special, which was directed by David Barosin.

The premise of the special sets us up for a biting look at the bizarre evolution of television, but instead the show mostly delivers soggy satire and stale one-liners.

A modern-day Brady is preparing for his 50th-anniversary special. When his new, ethnically diverse writing staff pitches a biographical retrospective, Brady counters with "Who Wants to Marry Alan Brady," an on-air wedding starring himself and his bombshell girlfriend, Trophy, "brought to you by the makers of Viagra."

The nuptials take a twist worthy of sweeps week when Trophy's equally hot mom shows up to give her away and emotions start to flare.

The gags come rapid-fire and occasionally hit the mildly amusing mark, as when one of Brady's staffers asks rhetorically, "Who says Alan Brady has no heart?" -- to which another replies, "Just about everybody."

But a half-hour from a comedy legend like Reiner that's harmless, at best, mainly serves to remind us of what a rare treat the original "Van Dyke" was, and how tricky it can be to recapture that kind of magic.

In the end, one of Brady's writers neatly sums up this whole affair when she remarks, of the special within the special, "What was that?"

*

'The Alan Brady Show'

Where: TV Land

When: 10 p.m. Sunday

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