One of CBS’s Most Beloved Sitcoms Was Almost Cancelled After 1 Season

CBS has a long history of producing television shows that are considered wildly successful. Their track record of hits stretches back decades, and one of its biggest hits in the 1960s was The Dick Van Dyke Show. The show, which ran for five seasons, could have easily produced more episodes based on its popularity, but it almost didn’t make it to its second season. An unlikely ally helped to ensure the series continued past season 1. 

What was The Dick Van Dyke Show about?

Created by Carl ReinerThe Dick Van Dyke Show followed the life of Rob Petrie as he worked as a writer on a comedy show. His personal life in New Rochelle, NY, and his professional life in Manhattan was deeply intertwined. 

The cast of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'
The cast of ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ | CBS via Getty Images

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Viewers watched as Rob and his wife, Laura Petrie, comically handled complex topics and issues. The show aired its first episode on Oct. 3, 1961, and signed off the air for good in 1966. The series has the distinction of being the last television show to be filmed completely in black and white. 

CBS considered canning The Dick Van Dyke Show after its first season 

The Dick Van Dyke Show is considered a classic show now, but it was almost lost in the annuls of failed sitcoms and series. The series was pretty controversial for its time and didn’t follow the traditional format for television. Not only did Mary Tyler Moore don capri pants instead of skirts, but audiences didn’t initially understand the show’s humor and intellect. 

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke in an episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'
Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie and Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

The show’s ratings were low, and the controversy it brought didn’t seem worth it to CBS. There was serious talk about ending the show after just one season. In fact, a second season was not on the table initially. An advertiser came to the show’s defense and helped it move forward. 

The show was saved by an unlikely ally 

While CBS was ready to pull the plug on the series, an advertiser helped ensure the show could continue and eventually thrive. Proctor & Gamble, a massive advertiser at the time, was angered by the cancellation of the series, According to Forbes

Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie and Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'
Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie and Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

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Proctor & Gamble executives were such fans of the series that they threatened to pull all of their advertisements from CBS if they canceled the show. CBS folded under pressure and ordered a second season of the series. They also moved it into a new timeslot, where it thrived for four more seasons. CBS never canceled the series. The actors were the ones to decide it was time to call it quits. The show aired its final episode on June 1, 1966.