ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Best TV Shows Ever: Part 1--The Andy Griffith Show

Updated on January 12, 2012

Andy Griffith (Right) and Don Knots as Sheriff Taylor and Barney

The Andy Griffith Show

There are many shows which are described as "beloved" but only a few which truly deserve that description. The Andy Griffith Show is one of those precious few. The long running series, which inspired two spin-offs (Gomer Pyle USMC; Mayberry RFD), has been rerun consistently since its initial run (1960-1968), always on the air somewhere. The series celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2010. While it's true that many shows are still remembered decades after they aired but how many are remembered as fondly as the Andy Griffith Show?

The embryonic form of the classic show could be seen in "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", an episode of the popular 1950s series Make Room for Daddy (AKA the Danny Thomas Show) which served as the prototype for Griffith's own show.

Andy Griffith started out as a stand-up comic, who specialized in folksy southern humor, long before Jeff Foxworthy ever said "You might be a redneck". He was also a talented singer and guitar player and he appeared several times on The Ed Sullivan Show (The original American Idol) and the Steve Allen Show. He starred on Broadway in the service comedy "No Time for Sergeants" (1955) which was later adapted into a film, also starring Griffith. The character he played was a naïve but enthusiastic small-town hayseed who inadvertently causes chaos after being drafted. (The same premise would be used for Jim Neighbors several years later in the spinoff series Gomer Pyle USMC.) Griffith's performance so greatly impressed comedian Danny Thomas that he arranged for Griffith to appear in an episode of Make Room for Daddy, which introduced the world to the character of Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry. Also appearing in the episode as the sheriff's son was a tiny tot named Ron Howard, later to be cast as the star of Happy Days and then to become one of the top directors in Hollywood.

The Make Room for Daddy episode was a test-run for the Andy Griffith Show and the experiment went over so well that the network instantly rushed the show into production, produced by former actor Sheldon Leonard. The premise of the show follows the adventures of widower Andy Taylor as he juggles being a single father with his duties as sheriff of postage-stamp sized Mayberry North Carolina. Since crime is essentially non-existent in Mayberry, Andy's challenge comes from being the voice of sanity in a community full of hick-town oddballs and solving their problems with his homespun wisdom.

In the original blueprint for the series, Griffith was to play the same type of clueless philosopher as he did in his stand-up routine and in No Time for Sergeants. However, that plan changed with the inspired addition of Don Knots as the dedicated but inept Deputy Barney Fife. Knots, who'd appeared in No Time for Sergeants with Griffith and become good friends with him, was a last-minute addition to the show and it turned out to be the smartest move Sheldon Leonard and Griffith could have made. Knots was so brilliantly funny as the hapless but well-intentioned deputy that he stole every scene he was in. Leonard and Griffith decided to change the character of Andy Taylor to make him the sensible one who would have to clean up Barney Fife's messes. They worked together like a comedy team with Griffith as the straight man and Knots getting the laughs.

Along with Griffith, Knots and young Ron Howard (Who aged from 6-14 during his years on the show) the show had a large supporting cast. Most prominent among them was Francis Bavier as Andy's matronly Aunt Bea, who did Andy's cooking and cleaning for him, as well as baby-sitting Andy's son Opie while Andy was at work. Other significant cast members included wacky gas-station attendant Gomer Pyle (Played by Jim neighbors until he left the show for his spin-off series) ; Howard McNear as absent-minded barber Floyd Lawson, who can never seem to get sideburns quite even; and unrepentant town drunk Otis Campbell (Hal Smith) who obligingly surrenders himself to the sheriff on a weekly basis for public drunkenness and even locks himself in the cell. Later additions to the show were Gomer's mechanic cousin Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) who did the worst impersonations in history; Jack Dodson as humorless county clerk Howard Sprague. Aneta Corsaut as Andy's girlfriend and eventual wife Helen Crump; Betty Lynn as Barney's sweetheart Thelma Lou; the bizarre Darling clan, led by the stone-faced matriarch Briscoe Darling (Denver Pyle, also well know as Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard); and the insane Ernest T. Bass (Played by Howard Morris, who spent 10 years working with Sid Caser on Our Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour); When Don Knots left the show in the fifth season, he was replaced for a short time by new deputy Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns), an equally inept assistant for Andy. However, the character didn't go over too well with the audience because no one could replace Don Knots on that show, so he was quickly dropped from the cast by Leonard. Many others would come and go during the show's eight-year run.

Among the series most popular episodes are: The show's only Christmas episode, rather unoriginally titled "The Christmas Story"; "The Pickle story", where Andy and Barney try to avoid eating Aunt Bee's kerosene flavored pickles; "Mr. McBeevee", in which Andy unjustly accuses Opie of lying about an imaginary friend who turns out to be real; "Man in a Hurry" finds a big city businessman with a type-A personality stranded in the most laid back town in the country; "Class Reunion" reunites Andy with his High School sweetheart; "Barney's First Car" finds Barney buying the ultimate lemon; "Dogs, Dogs, Dogs" finds the sheriff's office overrun with four legged visitors; "The Sermon for Today" sees the town of Mayberry trying to follow a Preacher's advice to savor the moment and end up driving themselves into a frustrated frenzy attempting to create a perfect night; "Barney's Sidecar" follows Barney's adventures as Mayberry's first motorcycle cop when he buys a World War One cycle to police the town with and drives everyone crazy; "The Haunted House" has Barney in the position where he has to put his money where his mouth is, after teasing Opie for being afraid to go into a supposedly haunted house and then becoming terrified when he has to go in there himself. "Opie the Birdman" is arguably the most famous episode of the series, and one of the most touching, as Opie learns a lesson about responsibility after accidently killing a bird, after which he is charged by his dad to raise the orphaned baby birds. There are so many great ones it's hard to select the best.

Years later, in 1986, came the TV reunion film Return to Mayberry, which reunited most of the surviving cast members in a nostalgic tale about Andy's return to Mayberry after many years away (When Andy Griffith quit the show after eight years, the adventures of the citizens of Mayberry were continued in Mayberry RFD, minus Andy, Helen and Opie who had moved away). Barney has also come back to Mayberry, bungling the job of temporary acting sheriff and finding himself chasing a lake monster, which Andy later reveals to be a hoax. And Andy becomes a Grandfather when Opie becomes a dad. Andy ends up back where he belongs when he regains his old job as Sheriff with Barney once again his deputy.

The secret to the success of the Andy Griffith Show is the gentleness at its heart. Andy is the friend and advisor to everyone, protecting them from their own mistakes. The people of Mayberry may be a bit odd but no one means any harm. The touching father/son bond between Andy and Opie is warm and loving. There is a wholesome feel to the show, which embraces old fashioned values of friendship, family, community and good will to everyone.

I wish there were more shows like this today. It has a message we can all use these days.

 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi giocatore; I have, too. Glad you liked the hub,

      Thanks for the comments,

      Rob

    • giocatore profile image

      Jim Dorsch 

      6 years ago from Alexandria, VA

      Thanks for the nice story. I've watched countless hours of Andy. Cheers!

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi trusouldj; Yes we do.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Rob

    • trusouldj profile image

      LaZeric Freeman 

      6 years ago from Hammond

      Us Mayberry fans have to stick together. Good work Sir.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Shinkicker; I'm not sure how the show translates to a Scots audience, since it's about small-town America, but it has great values and a very wholesome feel to it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Rob

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 

      7 years ago from Scotland

      I've got be honest Rob, I've never heard of his show. I don't think it's ever been shown in the UK in my lifetime. I'll check out clips on Youtube.

      Thanks for the Hub mate

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      I feel the same way, nicomp. Thanks for reading.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Thanks for the memories. It's great to turn on the TV and find Andy reruns after so many years.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi CMerritt; I never get tired if it either. It's definitely the definition of a feel-good show. Don Knots was hysterical.

      Hi HH. It's too bad you've never seen the show because it's a wonderful example of family-friendly, harmless, feel-good television. I think you'd enjoy it.

      thank you both for reading.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      I can't comment on the actual show because I don't think they showed over here. Sccording to you hub it is the shows which were popular and I would have enjoyed. The media has a lot to answer for.

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      I NEVER, EVER, EVER tire of watching that show, especially the ones that was filmed in Black & White, that had Don Knotts in them. That show always makes me feel good.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      He's a good all around performer. I really enjoyed his powerful performance as Lonesome Rhoades in "A face in the crowd".

      Thanks for reading.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am a fan of Andy Griffith but have generally liked his other performances better. Maybe I saw too much of this one when my kids were growing up. I love Mattock and his early comedy records.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob 

      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Glad you liked it, Wayne. I appreciate the comment.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      And might I say that it was devoid of either politics or social commentary like the shows of today are even though Griffith was and is a rabid democrat! Thanks for a good stroll down memory lane. WB

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)