Tuesday, November 03, 2015

SitcomsOnline Book Club Review - Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show; NBC Schedules Mid-Season Comedies with America Ferrera and Eva Longoria

Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show

SitcomsOnline Book Club Review - Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show

by Skees

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts came from somewhat similar (but different) backgrounds, both from working-class and low-income families from the south, and both had dreams and aspirations to get to something bigger. Daniel de Visé's biography, Andy & Don, takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of how these two actors from the south came to know each other on the stage on Broadway, and proceeded to head their own direction in their careers shortly thereafter... only to find that a big part of their success came in working with each other.

The primary focus of the book, of course, is on the one place that almost every fan of the actors associate them with: The Andy Griffith Show. More than a third of the book is dedicated to this, carefully detailing everything from the moment that the show was born, the insistence of Griffith to cast Knotts in a role in the series. The book continues to follow through with all of the ups and downs of the series, including casting and some behind-the-scenes drama. As most fans know, Knotts left the series after the fifth season, but the book gets readers a bit more in-depth on the exact reasons why, and they're not quite as many believe. It also discusses how the series proceeded without Knotts, and later without Griffith, and it seems that neither of these shakeups were ones that Griffith enjoyed.

Despite all of the success that both of them had throughout their life, the book also exposes how both of them had some rather large dry spells in their careers, and how they spent their personal lives during those spells. Griffith, in particular, struggled following the completion of The Andy Griffith Show. A handful of short-lived series didn't quite give him the satisfaction in life that he was hoping for, and things got much worse for him after a paralyzing illness in 1983. Meanwhile, Knotts had a string of movies that weren't exactly blockbuster hits after leaving The Andy Griffith Show, though he did land the role of Mr. Furley on Three's Company, a role that was nearly as iconic as his role of Barney Fife.

It was that relationship between two men, though, that brought them one last big round of success together, with the series Matlock. The series finally brought Griffith back into the spotlight (and managed to keep him there) after over a decade and a half of struggling to find a role that actually worked for him. The series was a success for him when he was alone, but by the third season, at the insistence of Griffith once again, he was reunited with Knotts, as Knotts began a recurring role on the series that lasted for four seasons (he disappeared around the time that the series shifted from NBC to ABC).

The book concludes with "Death in Mayberry," a nice tribute to the final days of both Knotts and Griffith. There are also some acknowledgements of how the author came to know Don Knotts (they were in-laws) and Griffith (it came much later in life), and finally a synopsis of what the author considers to be the twenty great episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

As much as I've admired the work of both Andy Griffith and Don Knotts over the years, I've honestly never stopped to look into much of their lives beyond their TV success. This is a particularly well-written book that gives more insight into their personal lives and gives a lot more background into how their frequent appearances together over a span of five separate decades was not just mere coincidence, but had a lot to do with their own personal friendship. Even more importantly, with a few exceptions, both of them seemed to thrive most when they were on screen together.

This book is one that great read for fans of either of these actors, although given how much of their career has been together, it is highly unlikely one would be a fan of one and not the other. This isn't one of those books that just repackages information readily available online and adds more to it as filler, it is a well-written and heavily sourced book with details that may be new or even surprising to some fans.

(4/5 stars)

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NBC will ring in the New Year with the launch of two of its highest profile comedies on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, but viewers will get an early look at both Superstore and Telenovela with sneak previews for two consecutive Mondays in late November and early December behind live episodes of The Voice. On Monday, Nov. 30, two original episodes of the ensemble workplace comedy Superstore, starring Emmy winner America Ferrera, will air back-to-back from 10-11pm ET following the two-hour telecast of NBC's Emmy Award-winning musical competition The Voice. Back-to-back episodes of the behind-the-scenes comedy Telenovela, featuring Eva Longoria as the star of a hit Spanish soap opera, will air Dec. 7 from 10-11pm following the penultimate Monday telecast of The Voice. Both series will then make their official launches on Monday, Jan. 4 with Superstore" premiering at 8pm and Telenovela at 8:30pm.

Superstore

In Superstore, America Ferrara (Ugly Betty) and Ben Feldman (A to Z) star in a hilarious workplace comedy (from the producer of The Office) about a unique family of employees at a super-sized megastore. From the bright-eyed newbies and the seen-it-all veterans to the clueless summer hires and in-it-for-life managers, together they hilariously tackle the day-to-day grind of rabid bargain hunters, riot-causing sales and nap-worthy training sessions. The cast includes Mark McKinney, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nichole Bloom and Nico Santos.

Telenovela

In Telenovela, if you think the steamy sex, sensational scandals and wrenching heartbreak on Latino soap operas are a little extreme, just wait until you see what happens behind the scenes. Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) stars in this new comedy about Ana Sofia, a sizzling TV superstar and her lively family of cast and crew all competing to steal the spotlight. When the cameras turn off, the drama turns up as Ana battles pesky network execs, drunken script writers, narcissistic co-stars, and an unfortunately familiar new onscreen love interest. The cast includes Jencarlos Canela, Diana Maria Riva, Jose Moreno Brooks, Alex Meneses, Amaury Nolasco, Jadyn Maria and Izzy Diaz.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, February 21

The Big Bang Theory - "The D&D Vortex" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When the gang finds out Wil Wheaton hosts a celebrity Dungeons and Dragons game involving William Shatner, Joe Manganiello, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin Smith, deception and betrayal are the path to make it to the one open seat.

Young Sheldon - "A Loaf of Bread and a Grand Old Flag" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Things spiral out of control when Sheldon boycotts his favorite bread company. Also, Georgie offers Veronica a shoulder to cry on when she’s dumped by her boyfriend.

Mom - "Skippy and the Knowledge Hole" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy finds it challenging to quit smoking, while Bonnie helps Tammy prepare to take the GED test.

Fam - "Drunk in Love" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
During their engagement party, Clem and Nick are both shocked to learn that the other has been keeping an embarrassing secret about how they met.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Honeypot" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jake and Holt clash over the merits of a new hire in the 99th precinct. Terry, Amy, Rosa and Charles try to do something about the cluttered bullpen.

Will & Grace - "The Pursuit of Happiness" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Grace (Debra Messing) is enlisted by Malcolm (guest star Alec Baldwin) to help him win back Karen's (Megan Mullally) affections. Will's (Eric McCormack) flirtation with his co-worker, Paul (guest star Barrett Foa), takes a turn when details about Paul's home life put Will in an ethical dilemma. And Jack's (Sean Hayes) run-in with Zusanna (guest star Andrea Martin), the sister of his former acting teacher, reignites Jack's passion for performing.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 18

Thursday, February 21

  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Catch Ken on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • James Spader (The Office) - James stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kal Penn (Deadbeat/We Are Men) - Kal visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Chris O'Dowd (Family Tree) - Chris is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Mark Duplass (Togetherness/The Mindy Project/The League) - Mark appears on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Reba McEntire (Reba/Malibu Country) - Reba drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Finesse Mitchell (A.N.T. Farm) - Finesse is a panelist on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Bill Pullman (1600 Penn) - Bill appears on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place) - D'Arcy will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February)

Fuller House - The Complete Third Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season The Game - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season

01/08 - Family Guy - 20 Greatest Hits
01/22 - Fuller House - The Complete Third Season
01/22 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
01/29 - Ballers - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
01/29 - Crashing - The Complete Second Season
01/29 - The Game - The Complete Series
01/29 - Kidding - Season One
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest