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The Andy Griffith Show
Format Sitcom
Created by Arthur Stander
Starring Andy Griffith
Ronny Howard
Don Knotts
Elinor Donahue
Frances Bavier
Theme music composer Earle Hagen and Herbert 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 Studios (1960–1967)
Paramount Studios (1967–1968)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25–26 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format Black-and-white (1960-1965)
Color
(1965-1968)
Audio format Monaural
Original run Template:Start dateTemplate:End date
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 by CBS between October 3, 1960, and April 1, 1968. Andy Griffith portrays a widowed sheriff in 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 young son, Opie (Ron Howard, billed as Ronny). Local ne'er-do-wells, bumbling pals, and temperamental girlfriends further complicate his life.

The series was a major hit, never placing lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings and ending its final season at number one. 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.

OriginEdit

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.[1] 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.[1] After conferences between Leonard and Griffith in New York, Griffith flew to Los Angeles and filmed the episode.[1] On February 15, 1960, "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" was telecast on The Danny Thomas Show.[1] 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).[1] General Foods, sponsor of The Danny Thomas Show, had first access to the spinoff and committed to it immediately.[1] On October 3, 1960 at 9:30 pm, The Andy Griffith Show made its debut.[2]

Production notesEdit

CastingEdit

Frances Bavier was cast as Andy's housekeeper, Aunt Bee, and Ron Howard as Andy's son, Opie.[1] 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. He joined the cast as Barney Fife.[1] Griffith, Knotts, Bavier and Howard all made their series debut in the premiere, "The New Housekeeper."

Production teamEdit

The show's production team included producers Aaron Ruben (1960–1965) and Bob Ross (1965–1968).[1] 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.[1] In the sixth season, Greenbaum and Fritzell left the show and Ruben departed for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a show which he owned in part.[1] Writer Harvey Bullock left after season six. Bob Sweeney directed the first three seasons save the premiere.

Other detailsEdit

The show was filmed at Desilu Studios,[1] with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, CA.[1] Woodsy locales were filmed north of Beverly Hills at Franklin Canyon.[1]

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.[1] 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,[1] with promotional consideration paid for (in the form of cars) by Ford Motor Company (mentioned in the credits).

Plot and charactersEdit

Main article: List of The Andy Griffith Show cast members
Main article: List of The Andy Griffith Show guest stars
File:Cast 01.JPG

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 comically inept deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts). Barney is portrayed as Andy's cousin in the first, second, and sixth episodes, but is never referenced as such in the later episodes. Andy socializes with male friends in the Main Street barber shop and dates various ladies until a schoolteacher becomes his steady interest in the third season. 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. Elinor Donahue made twelve appearances as Andy's girlfriend, Ellie Walker, in the first season. In the color seasons, County Clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and handyman Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) appeared regularly, while Barney's replacement deputy Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns) appeared in the sixth season. Unseen characters such as telephone operator Sarah, and Barney's love interest, local diner waitress Juanita Beasley, as mentioned in first season episode "Andy Forecloses",[3] are often referenced. In the series' last few episodes, farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) debuts, and later becomes the star of the show's sequel series, Mayberry R.F.D..[1]

Griffith's development of Andy TaylorEdit

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."[1]

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.[1] Aunt Bee, for example, was given several wayward romances requiring Andy's intervention, Opie suffered childhood missteps that needed a father's counsel and discipline, and Barney engaged in ill-considered acts on the job that required Sheriff Taylor's professional oversight and reprimand.

Andy Griffith has also said that he realized during the earlier episodes of the program that it was much funnier for him to play the straight man to Knotts' "Barney," rather than his being the originator of the comedic scenes between them.

EpisodesEdit

Main article: List of The Andy Griffith Show episodes

The show comprises 8 full seasons and 249 episodes[1] — 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 the fifth season 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."[1]

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 reunion movieEdit

File:Andy Griffith Julie Adams Andy Griffith Show 1962.JPG

In 1964, daytime reruns began airing[1] and the show was retitled Andy of Mayberry to distinguish the repeat episodes from the then-new episodes airing in prime time;[4] this alternate title continued to turn up in syndication over the ensuing decades. Reruns continue to be seen on many local television stations to this day, and its 47 years (as of 2011) in syndication has proven to be exceptionally long; most off-network series, in comparison, rarely last more than ten years in syndication, if that.

At the end of the show's fourth season (May 1964), the backdoor pilot "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." aired, and, the following September, the spinoff series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. debuted with Jim Nabors in his Gomer role and Frank Sutton as drill instructor Sergeant Vince Carter.

In the last episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, 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 Andy Griffith — the '68 season would be his last). 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 Mayberry, 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 being the explanation given the audience. After the sequel series' cancellation in 1971, George Lindsey played a Goober-like character over several 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 telemovie, 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.

MerchandiseEdit

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.[5] 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 show 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.

DVD releasesEdit

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 show's third season (in public domain) are available on discount DVDs.

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 Season 3 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. The Region 1 release of Season 4 has the laugh tracks missing on discs 1 and 2. It remains to be seen if Paramount will provide complete restored episodes of The Andy Griffith Show on DVD.

Ratings and honorsEdit

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 last 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.[1] 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]

In 1997, the episode "Opie the Birdman" was ranked No. 24 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[8] In 2002, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show ninth on its list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Bravo ranked Andy Taylor 63rd on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.[9]

A bronze statue of Andy and Opie was erected in both Pullen Park in Raleigh, and at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy.

Primetime Emmy Awards and NominationsEdit

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

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 Kelly, Richard. The Andy Griffith Show. Blair, 1981.
  2. Beck, Ken, and Jim Clark. The Andy Griffith Show Book. St. Martin's Griffin, 1995.
  3. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0512401
  4. Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 Through 2007. McFarland. p. 66. ISBN 0-7864-3305-1. 
  5. Overstreet, Robert M.. Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. 34th edition. House of Collectibles, Random House Information Group, May 2004.
  6. "Classic TV Hits: TV Ratings". http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/index.htm. 
  7. Ted Rueter (1998-01-22). "What Andy, Opie, and Barney Fife Mean to Americans". The Christian Science Monitor. http://www.drpolitics.com/article-view.php?id=4. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  8. Template:Cite journal
  9. "The 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20071015070449/http://www.bravotv.com/The_100_Greatest_TV_Characters/index.shtml. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 

Further readingEdit

ViewingsEdit

External linksEdit

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