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

Tuesday, December 11

The Conners - "O Sister, Where Art Thou?" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Becky helps Harris keep a secret from Darlene, it opens up a can of worms that causes a rift between the two sisters. Jackie supports Peter with his Nordic history project, and Dan reunites with an old friend.

The Kids Are Alright - "Christmas 1972" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Peggy’s successful brother, Tom, drops in for Christmas, Mike immediately oozes with jealousy. Thus begins Mike’s one-sided competition with Tom, using his kids as pawns to help. After Tom gives the Clearys an extravagant Christmas gift, pride prevents Mike from taking it – putting him at odds with the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Timmy mistakenly receives $100 from his great-aunt for Christmas and contemplates whether he should do “the right thing” or keep it. Elsewhere, Eddie forgets to get Wendi a Christmas present and panic sets in.

black-ish - "Christmas in Theater Eight" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The Johnsons have a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas and they can never agree on what to see. Dre wants to see an important film about Rosa Parks, but they all want to see the latest action-packed superhero blockbuster. Meanwhile, Junior becomes embarrassed about taking a gap year after he runs into his ex-girlfriend Megan at the theater.

Splitting Up Together - "Messy" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After Lena and Vlad’s unexpected kiss, things get more complicated as they begin their new work partnership while working with a new client. Elsewhere, Martin goes to Paige’s house for more privacy and gets a glimpse into what a more typical divorced home life is, causing him to become uneasy. Back at home, Mason and Mae go head-to-head after Mae finds out that Mason has a crush on a pretentious girl at school.

The Guest Book - "Everybody Loves Clark" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Tommy surprises Nikki with a spontaneous wedding ceremony; both are blithely oblivious to the fact that Vivian is kidnapping their child; some familiar faces from Mt. Trace return to sort things out.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 10)

Tuesday, December 11

  • Ron Livingston (Loudermilk/Search Party) - Catch Ron on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Adam Pally (Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Vanessa Hudgens (Powerless) - Vanessa stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nicole Byer (Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Nicole is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen/The Ellen Show) - Ellen drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men/Jenny) - Jenny appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Maura Tierney (NewsRadio) - Maura is a guest on E!'s Busy Tonight at 10pm.
  • Kathy Bates (Disjointed) - Kathy chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That 70s Show) - Ashton guest co-hosts The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek/Greg the Bunny/Hiller and Diller) and Catherine O'Hara (Schitt's Creek) - Eugene and Catherine are guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso and his wife Angela discuss holiday hacks on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah talks about Second Act on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela talks about The Good Place on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Dan Bucatinsky (Marry Me/Web Therapy/The Comeback) - Dan talks about Second Act on People Now at 12pm.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo discusses the season of giving thanks and the amazing efforts of St. Jude on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November)

The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection Alice - The Complete Eighth Season Step by Step - The Complete Third Season

10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 6th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 7th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 8th Season
10/02 - Ghosted - The Complete First Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Community - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/23 - Alice - The Complete Eighth Season
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Two
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Three
10/31 - The Bad News Bears - The Complete Series - All 26 Episodes
11/01 - Episodes - Season 5
11/05 - Robin Williams - Comic Genius (includes Mork & Mindy)
11/06 - American Dad! - Volume 13
11/16 - Man with a Plan - Season One
11/20 - Step by Step - The Complete Third Season
11/27 - What I Like About You - The Complete Third Season
12/04 - Family Guy - Season Sixteen
12/04 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Sixth Season
12/18 - Our Cartoon President - Season One
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