The Andy Griffith Show

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The Andy Griffith Show
Opening sequence including
"The Fishin' Hole"
Genre Sitcom
Created by Arthur Stander (uncredited)1
Starring Andy Griffith
Ronny Howard
Don Knotts
Frances Bavier
Theme music composer Earle Hagen and Herbert W. Spencer
Opening theme "The Fishin' Hole"
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 249 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Sheldon Leonard
Danny Thomas
Location(s) Desilu Culver (1960–67)
Paramount Studios (1967–68)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25–26 minutes
Production company(s) Danny Thomas Enterprises
Mayberry Enterprises
Distributor CBS Films (pre-1971)
Viacom Enterprises (1971–95)
Paramount Domestic Television (1995–2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006–07)
CBS Television Distribution (2007–)
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format Black-and-white (1960–65)
Color (1965–68)
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 3, 1960 (1960-10-03)  – April 1, 1968 (1968-04-01)
Chronology
Followed by Mayberry R.F.D.
Related shows The Danny Thomas Show
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom first televised on 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. Griffith said in a Today Show interview, about the time-period of the show: "Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the 1960s, it had a feeling of the 1930s. It was when we were doing it, of a time gone by.".1 Griffith was referring to the "nostalgic feel" the show often portrayed to the viewer, not that it was intended to take place in a previous era. This is evident by the Ford squad car his character drove in the show which was usually that current year's (1960-68) model. In the fourth episode of the second season, a distinct reference was made to the current year being 1961. In the episode, a municipal bond issued in 1861 was discovered and was payable for exactly 100 years of interest.

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 American television history.2 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, 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. Black and white reruns currently air on TV Land, and the complete series is available on DVD. All eight seasons are also now available by streaming video services such as Netflix.

Origin

Sheldon Leonard, producer of The Danny Thomas Show, and Danny Thomas, hired veteran comedy writer Arthur Stander (who had written many of the "Danny Thomas" episodes) to create a pilot show for Andy Griffith, featuring him as justice of the peace and newspaper editor in a small town.3 At the time, Broadway, film, and radio star Griffith was interested in attempting a television role, and the William Morris Agency told Leonard that Griffith's rural background and previous rustic characterizations were suited to the part.3 After conferences between Leonard and Griffith in New York, Griffith flew to Los Angeles and filmed the episode.3 On February 15, 1960, The Danny Thomas Show episode "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" aired.3 In the episode, Griffith played fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina, who arrests Danny Williams (Thomas's character) for running a stop sign. Future players in The Andy Griffith Show, Frances Bavier and Ron Howard, appeared in the episode as townspeople Henrietta Perkins and Opie Taylor (the sheriff's son).3 General Foods, sponsor of The Danny Thomas Show, had first access to the spinoff and committed to it immediately.3 On October 3, 1960 at 9:30 pm, The Andy Griffith Show made its debut.4

Production notes

The show's production team included producers Aaron Ruben (1960–1965) and Bob Ross (1965–1968).3 First-season writers (many of whom worked in pairs) included Jack Elinson, Charles Stewart, Arthur Stander and Frank Tarloff (as "David Adler"), Benedict Freedman and John Fenton Murray, Leo Solomon and Ben Gershman, and Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum.3 During season six, Greenbaum and Fritzell left the show and Ruben departed for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a show which he owned in part.3 Writer Harvey Bullock left after season six. Bob Sweeney directed the first three seasons save the premiere.

The show was filmed at Desilu Studios,3 with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, California.3 Woodsy locales were filmed north of Beverly Hills at Franklin Canyon.3

Don Knotts, who knew Griffith professionally and had seen The Danny Thomas Show episode, called Griffith during the developmental stages of the show and suggested the Sheriff character needed a deputy. Griffith agreed. Knotts auditioned for the show's creator and executive producer, Sheldon Leonard, and was offered a five-year contract playing Barney Fife.3

The show's theme music, "The Fishin' Hole", was composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer, with lyrics written by Everett Sloane, who also guest starred as Jubal Foster in the episode, "The Keeper of the Flame" (1962). Whistling in the opening sequence, as well as the closing credits sequence, was performed by Earle Hagen.3 One of the show's tunes, "The Mayberry March", was reworked a number of times in different tempo, styles and orchestrations as background music.

The show's sole sponsor was General Foods,3 with promotional consideration paid for (in the form of cars) by Ford Motor Company (mentioned in the credits).

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 - but played by another actor in early episode), service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) and Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), and local drunkard Otis Campbell (Hal Smith). There were two mayors: Mayor Pike, who was more relaxed, and Mayor Stoner, who had a more assertive personality. 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 girlfriend in the first season, while Peggy McMillan (Joanna Moore) is a nurse who becomes his girlfriend in season 3. Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris) made his first appearance in Episode #94 ("Mountain Wedding"). 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..3

Don Knotts, Aneta Corsaut, Jack Dodson, and Betty Lynn also appeared on Andy Griffith's later show Matlock

Griffith's development of Andy Taylor

Initially, Griffith played Taylor as a heavy-handed country bumpkin, grinning from ear to ear and speaking in a hesitant, frantic manner. The style recalled that used in the delivery of his popular monologues such as "What it Was, Was Football". He gradually abandoned the 'rustic Taylor' and developed a serious and thoughtful characterization. Producer Aaron Ruben recalled:

"He was being that marvelously funny character from No Time for Sergeants, Will Stockdale [a role Griffith played on stage and in film]...One day he said, 'My God, I just realized that I'm the straight man. I'm playing straight to all these kooks around me.' He didn't like himself [in first year reruns]...and in the next season he changed, becoming this Lincolnesque character."3

As Griffith stopped portraying some of the sheriff's more unsophisticated character traits and mannerisms, it was impossible for him to create his own problems and troubles in the manner of other central sitcom characters such as Lucy in I Love Lucy or Archie Bunker in All in the Family, whose problems were the result of their temperaments, philosophies and attitudes. Consequently, the characters around Taylor were employed to create the problems and troubles, with rock-solid Taylor stepping in as problem solver, mediator, advisor, disciplinarian and counselor.3

Episodes

Knotts and Griffith as their characters in a still taken from the October 7, 1965 one-hour variety special The Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors Show

The show comprises 8 full seasons and 249 episodes3—159 episodes in black and white (seasons 1–5) and 90 in color (seasons 6–8). Griffith appears in all 249 episodes with Howard coming in second at 209. Only Griffith, Howard, Bavier, Knotts, and Hope Summers appeared in all eight seasons.

Knotts left the show at the end of season five to pursue a career in films (on the show it is told that he takes a job as a detective in Raleigh) but returned to make five guest appearances as Barney in seasons six through eight. His last appearance in the final season in a story about a summit meeting with Russian dignitaries "ranked eleventh among single comedy programs most watched in television between 1960 to [1984], with an audience of thirty-three and a half million."3

The color episodes of the show in its later years are markedly different from the black-and-white episodes of the first five seasons. New writers took over the scriptwriting for the post-Knotts color seasons, and they generally abandoned the character-based sitcom format in favor of dry humor revolving around rather mundane aspects of life in a small town.

Reruns, spinoffs, and reunions

Sam Jones (Ken Berry) and his son Mike (Buddy Foster) were recurring characters in the final season of The Andy Griffith Show, setting up the sequel series Mayberry R.F.D..

In 1964, daytime reruns began airing3 and the show was retitled Andy of Mayberry to distinguish the repeat episodes from the new episodes airing in prime time;5 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 Goober for many years on the popular country-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.

Reception

Ratings

The Andy Griffith Show consistently placed in the top ten during its run.6

Note: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.

Season Rank Rating
1) 1960–61 4 27.8
2) 1961–62 7 27.0
3) 1962–63 6 29.7
4) 1963–64 5 29.4
5) 1964–65 4 28.3
6) 1965–66 6 26.9
7) 1966–67 3 27.4
8) 1967–68 1 27.6

A Nielsen study conducted during the show's final season (1967) indicated the show ranked No. 1 among blue collar workers followed by The Lucy Show and Gunsmoke. Among white collar workers, the show ranked No. 3 following Saturday Movies and The Dean Martin Show.3 The show is one of only three shows to have its final season be the number one ranked show on television, the other two being I Love Lucy and Seinfeld. In 1998, more than 5 million people a day watched the show's re-runs on 120 stations.7

Awards and nominations

Emmys

1961
  • Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series: Don Knotts – Won
  • Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor – Nominated (Winner: The Jack Benny Program)
1962
  • Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor: Don Knotts – Won
  • Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor – Nominated (Winner: The Bob Newhart Show)
1963
  • Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor: Don Knotts – Won
1966
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Don Knotts for "The Return of Barney Fife" – Won
1967
  • Outstanding Comedy Series – Nominated (Winner: The Monkees)
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Don Knotts for "Barney Comes to Mayberry" – Won
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Frances Bavier – Won

TV Land Awards

  • Favorite Second Banana: Don Knotts – Won (2003)
  • Single Dad of the Year: Andy Griffith – Won (2003)
  • Legend Award – Won (2004)

Merchandise and pop culture

Dell Comics published two The Andy Griffith Show comic books during the show's first run. In 2004, copies in near-mint condition were priced in excess of $500 each.8 The show's enduring popularity has spawned considerable merchandise since its first run, including board games, bobblehead dolls, kitchenware, books, and other items. In 2007, a line of canned foods inspired by the series was made available in grocery stores across America. Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina annually hosts a week-long "Mayberry Days" celebration featuring concerts, parades, and appearances by the show's players.

In 1997, the episode "Opie the Birdman" was ranked No. 24 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.9 In 2002, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show ninth on its list of the 50 Best Shows of All Time.2 Bravo ranked Andy Taylor 63rd on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.10

The cable television network TV Land erected bronze statues of Andy and Opie in Mount Airy and Raleigh, North Carolina (see: Pullen Park).11

The Taylor Home Inn in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, is a bed-and-breakfast modeled after the Taylor Home.12

The Mayberry Cafe in Danville, Indiana features Aunt Bee's Fried Chicken and a replica of Andy's Ford Galaxie police car.

In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show #15 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time.13

Video releases

In the late 1980s, Premier Promotions released various episodes on VHS. Most tapes had either two or four episodes. In the early to mid-1990s, United American Video released VHS tapes of various episodes. They either had two or three episodes. These compilations were culled from episodes early in the show's run that had lapsed into the public domain; these episodes continue to be circulated on unofficial video releases.

Between 2004 and 2006, Paramount Home Entertainment and later in 2006, CBS DVD released all eight seasons as single-season packages on Region 1 DVD. The complete series was released as a boxed set in 2007 (ISBN141573159) and includes the pilot from The Danny Thomas Show, the telemovie Return to Mayberry, and an episode from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. featuring Ron Howard. Sixteen episodes from the season three (believed to be in public domain) are available on discount DVDs. The public domain status of these 16 episodes has been challenged however by CBS Operations Inc v. Reel Funds International Inc. which restored the copyright status of these episodes.141516

DVD Name Ep# Release Date
The First Season 32 November 16, 2004
The Second Season 31 May 24, 2005
The Third Season 32 August 16, 2005
The Fourth Season 32 November 22, 2005
The Fifth Season 32 February 14, 2006
The Sixth Season 30 May 9, 2006
The Seventh Season 30 August 29, 2006
The Final Season 30 December 12, 2006
The Complete Series 249 May 29, 2007

Note: The Region 1 release of The Third Season contains two episodes edited for syndication: "The Darlings Are Coming", which had several scenes cut, and "Barney Mends a Broken Heart", which had its epilogue cut.

References

  1. ^ "Andy Griffith & Don Knotts on The Today Show". NBC Today Show. March 4, 1996. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". Associated Press. February 11, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Kelly, Richard. The Andy Griffith Show. Blair, 1981.
  4. ^ Beck, Ken, and Jim Clark. The Andy Griffith Show Book. St. Martin's Griffin, 1995.
  5. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 Through 2007. McFarland. p. 66. ISBN 0-7864-3305-1. 
  6. ^ "Classic TV Hits: TV Ratings". 
  7. ^ Ted Rueter (January 22, 1998). "What Andy, Opie, and Barney Fife Mean to Americans". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  8. ^ Overstreet, Robert M.. Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. 34th edition. House of Collectibles, Random House Information Group, May 2004.
  9. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997. 
  10. ^ "The 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved October 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Vandals toss paint on statue of Andy and Opie in N.C.(Front)". The Associated Press. February 25, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  12. ^ "A little touch of Mayberry: B&B recreates Andy Griffith's TV show home". Associated Press. July 27, 2006. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  13. ^ Fretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt. "The Greatest Shows on Earth". TV Guide Magazine 61 (3194-3195): 16–19. 
  14. ^ Winston.com
  15. ^ Gpo.gov
  16. ^ Belloni, Matthew (July 16, 2009). "Jonathan Zavin". The Hollywood Reporter. 

Notes

  1. ^1 Since Arthur Stander wrote the Danny Thomas Show episode "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" that introduces Andy Taylor, he's technically the creator of The Andy Griffith Show but was never billed.citation needed

Further reading

External links


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