This past Sunday, CBS aired two episodes of its 1960s B&W comedy classic The Dick Van Dyke Show IN COLOR.
Airing out of its venerable newsmagazine 60 Minutes, Dick Van Dyke generated an impressive 7.41 million L+SD viewers to come in #2 behind a highly-rated Sunday Night Football on NBC but ahead of a special airing of Frozen and an original episode of The Simpsons.
In comparison to the previous week’s I Love Lucy special — also colorized, this was an 11% increase in viewership and places it 3rd among all the Lucy specials (there was an Andy Griffith Show special last Christmas, but it has so far placed last among all of CBS’s colorized airings of its enduring classics).
But how do these colorized episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show — each over half a century old, rank among today’s TV shows?
Well, not too bad:
For the week of 12/5-12/11, these airings ranked #23 out of 93 shows in L+SD viewership (between CBS’s MacGyver and The Great Indoors). And season-to-date in that same metric, these airings rank #21 out of 90 shows (between CBS’s Criminal Minds and ABC’s Modern Family).
Note that this does not factor in L+7 as DVR lift is unlikely to be a factor for these colorized classics. But based on last year’s rankings minus encores and shows no longer on the air, The Dick Van Dyke Show would rank #45 out of about 127 shows between Elementary and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders — even without such a lift. And I Love Lucy would rank #51 out of 127 shows between Bones and The Bachelorette — also without such a lift.
So given the success of The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy airings, CBS has good reason to fall back on these shows as well as The Andy Griffith Show to cheaply fill programming holes — particularly during holiday breaks and in the summer. We would also suggest they consider colorized episodes of The Honeymooners as well — not that we necessarily support the practice of colorization “in order to appeal to younger viewers”, but we do support the exposure of TV classics to new generations.
And it would be a thrill for us TV people (okay, maybe just us as TV people) to see how these enduring classics would continue to fare opposite today’s programming — especially if the coveted younger viewers discover them in their updated form.