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 (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, August 16

Marlon - "Pilot" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Exes Marlon (Marlon Wayans) and Ashley (Essence Atkins) try a friendly divorce for their children's sake, but things get tricky when Ashley decides to date again. Marlon struggles to keep a sponsor for his online channel, The Marlon Way.

Marlon - "Cleaning Out the Closet" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Ashley (Essence Atkins) is shocked to learn that Marlon (Marlon Wayans) has a storage unit crammed full of things from when they were married and challenges him to have a yard sale to part with it all.

Swedish Dicks - (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Ingmar's daughter, Sarah, helps the guys get a case at an advertising agency to find out who is stealing secret data; the undercover job takes a turn when Ingmar and Axel's client makes a fatal decision; Sun works on the firm's marketing strategy.

Swedish Dicks - (Pop, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Haunted by the ghost of his former stunt buddy, an unstable Ingmar makes an embarrassing mistake; Axel takes it upon himself to infiltrate a cult.

Younger - "The Gelato and the Pube" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Liza receives a great opportunity at work, but there’s a catch. Josh meets someone new. Maggie ruffles some feathers.

Odd Mom Out - "Dadderall" (Bravo, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Faced with an impossible work deadline on the night of his Dad's Committee Night Out, Andy takes stimulants; Jill and Vanessa learn the cruel definition of Med Spa as they visit their college friend, Ollie, at his new venture.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 14)

Wednesday, August 16

  • Zach Galifianakis (Baskets) - Watch Zach on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Lake Bell (Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later/How to Make It in America/Childrens Hospital) - Lake appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Marc Maron (GLOW/Maron) - Marc is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Andrew Dice Clay (Dice/Hitz/Bless This House) - Andrew stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
  • Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Carl is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • James Van Der Beek (What Would Diplo Do?/Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin performs Smile off her new album, The Art of Elegance, and faces her fear of crawfish on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Tasha Smith (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse/The Tom Show/Boston Common) - Tasha will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET. She will also be on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:45am.
  • Ben Falcone (Joey/A to Z) - Ben talks about his new book, Being a Dad Is Weird, on a repeat of ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Brandy (Moesha/The Game/Thea) - Brandy talks about Chicago on Broadway on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Peter Serafinowicz, Griffin Newman and Brendan Hines (The Tick) - Peter, Griffin and Brendan talk about Amazon's The Tick on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.