This forbidden Dick Van Dyke episode was filmed but never aired
In the fifth season of The Dick Van Dyke Show, there’s an episode where the Petries confront that awkward parenting moment with Ritchie where they have to explain how human reproduction works.
It’s called "Go Tell the Birds and the Bees," and in it, we get to watch Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke squirm through this uncomfortable teaching moment.
What you may not have realized laughing through this episode is that The Dick Van Dyke Show wanted to go even further into awkward parenting territory with a similar episode concept that was filmed but ultimately forbidden to air because it was considered too risqué for Sixties audiences.
Van Dyke talked about the premise of this forbidden episode in a 1988 interview with The Sacramento Bee.
"We ran into a problem once on the old show with a story about our child having walked in and seeing us make love in the morning," Van Dyke said. "We didn’t show it or anything. It was a story about behavior. The kid is acting very strange, and we finally figured out that’s what must have happened."
Where in "Go Tell the Birds and the Bees," the issue Rob and Laura confront is overt, with Ritchie giving very misguided "lectures" on the birds and the bees to other kids at school and his parents needing to figure out where he got these wild ideas and how to best set him straight.
In the forbidden episode, how Ritchie felt about the birds and the bees would’ve manifested instead into physical behaviors his parents witnessed but didn’t understand. For a physical comedian like Dick Van Dyke, the hilarity of such a premise was clear, and he wished the episode had been allowed to air.
"It was a lovely little show, and we couldn’t put it on the air," Van Dyke bemoaned.
In the interview Van Dyke was promoting his short-lived 1988 series The Van Dyke Show, which was about a Broadway star who retired to live with his local theater-producing son in a small rural town.
At that moment, Van Dyke was a more mature actor, and the family dynamic he was portraying on the new show was definitely a much different look at how fathers and sons relate.
But by this point near the end of the Eighties, Van Dyke was seasoned enough to know audience tastes had proven mature enough, saying if it were written in the Eighties, no TV studio would’ve rejected the forbidden episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. The TV legend regretted the lost opportunity for physical comedy on his break-through sitcom which was so famous for just that.
"Today it wouldn’t even get anybody’s attention," he sighed.