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.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May)

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, May 26

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 22)

Friday, May 26

  • Pete Holmes (Crashing) - Watch Pete on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. He also appears on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Horatio Sanz (Great News) - Horatio appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Halston Sage (How to Rock) - Halston is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond), Peter Krause (Sports Night/Cybill), John Lithgow (Trial & Error/Twenty Good Years/3rd Rock from the Sun) - Harry has his biggest celebrity reveals, so check your local listings.
  • Christina Milian (Grandfathered) - Christina visits The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) - Miley performs on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) - Alan is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - NFL star Jon Dorenbos presents The Ellen DeGeneres Show's funniest moments from Season 14, featuring Jamie and Sofia, so check your local listings.