The Andy Griffith Show
Andy Griffith Show: Cyrano Andy Episode 22
The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968).
Barney, Andy, Aunt Bee, and Opie in “The Pickle Story” The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom first televised by CBS between October 3, 1960, and April 1, 1968. Andy Griffith portrays the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His life is complicated by an inept, but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), a spinster aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), and a precocious young son, Opie (Ron Howard). Local ne’er-do-wells, bumbling pals, and temperamental girlfriends further complicate his life. Andy Griffith stated in a Today Show interview, with respect to the time period of the show: “Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the ’60s, it had a feeling of the ’30s. It was when we were doing it, of a time gone by.” The series never placed lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings and ended its final season at number one. It has been ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best show in television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight-season run, series co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards. The show, a semi-spin-off from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show titled “Danny Meets Andy Griffith”, spawned its own spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964), a sequel series, Mayberry R.F.D. (1968), and a reunion telemovie, Return to Mayberry (1986). The show’s enduring popularity has generated a good deal of show-related merchandise. Reruns currently air across the United States, and the complete series is available on DVD. All eight seasons are also now available by streaming video services such as Netflix.
Plot and characters
The series’ plot revolves around Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and his life in sleepy, slow-paced fictional Mayberry, North Carolina. Sheriff Taylor’s level-headed approach to law enforcement makes him the scourge of local moonshiners and out-of-town criminals, while his abilities to settle community problems with common-sense advice, mediation and conciliation make him popular with his fellow citizens. His professional life, however, is complicated by the gaffes of his inept deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts). Barney is portrayed as Andy’s cousin in the first, second, and sixth episodes, but is never again referenced as such. Andy socializes with male friends in the Main Street barber shop and dates various ladies until a schoolteacher becomes his steady interest in season three. At home, Andy enjoys fishing trips with his son, Opie (Ronny Howard), and quiet evenings on the front porch with his maiden aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier). Opie tests his father’s parenting skills season after season, and Aunt Bee’s ill-considered romances and adventures cause her nephew concern. Andy’s friends and neighbors include barber Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear), service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle(Jim Nabors) and Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), and local drunkard Otis Campbell (Hal Smith). On the distaff side, townswoman Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Barney’s sweetheart Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) and Andy’s schoolteacher sweetheart Helen Crump(Aneta Corsaut) become semi-regulars. Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) is Andy’s first girlfriend in the series. In the color seasons, County Clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and handyman Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) appear regularly, while Barney’s replacement deputy Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns) appears in season six. Unseen characters such as telephone operator Sarah, and Barney’s love interest, local diner waitress Juanita Beasley, as mentioned in the first season, are often referenced. In the series’ last few episodes, farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) debuts, and later becomes the lead of the show’s sequel, Mayberry R.F.D.
Reruns, spinoffs, and reunions
Andy Griffith and Julie Adams in 1962
In 1964, daytime reruns began airing and the show was retitled Andy of Mayberry to distinguish the repeat episodes from the new episodes airing in prime time; this alternate title has continued to turn up in some syndication prints. As of 2011, the show has been seen in syndication for 48 years. Most off-network series, in comparison, do not last longer than ten years in syndication. At the end of season four (May 1964), the backdoor pilot “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” aired, and, the following September, the spin-off series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. debuted with Jim Nabors in the role of Gomer and Frank Sutton as drill instructor Sergeant Vince Carter. In the last episodes of the series, the character Sam Jones, played by Ken Berry, was introduced, and a sequel series, Mayberry R.F.D., was fashioned around him for the fall of 1968 (in essence replacing The Andy Griffith Show). Several performers reprised their original roles in the sequel, with Bavier becoming Sam’s housekeeper. To create a smooth transition from the original series to RFD, Andy and Helen were married in the first episode, remained for a few additional episodes, and then left the show, with a move to Raleigh effectively ending their appearances. After RFD’s cancellation in 1971, George Lindsey played a Goober-like character for a number of years on the popular variety show Hee Haw. In 1986, the reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry was broadcast with several cast members reprising their original roles. Absent, however, was Frances Bavier. She was living in Siler City, North Carolina in ill health, and declined to participate. In the TV movie, Aunt Bee is portrayed as deceased (and in fact Bavier did die three years later), with Andy visiting her grave. Two cast reunions of the show were subsequently filmed and aired on CBS in 1993 and 2003.