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 (January/February)

I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete First Season

01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One / Review
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two / Review
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
02/07 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - Sabrina Down Under
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 1 - School's Cool - Boy Crazy
02/07 - So Little Time - Volume 2 - About a Family - Hangin' Out
02/07 - 227 - The Complete First Season (Mill Creek)
02/07 - Vice Principals - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
02/14 - Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection
02/14 - Grace and Frankie - Season Two
02/28 - Fuller House - The Complete First Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, February 28

Fresh Off the Boat - "Living While Eddie" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After her precious morning papaya goes missing and the dishwasher was used for its actual purpose rather than just a drying rack, Jessica automatically accuses Eddie as the culprit. Yet when a record store manager accuses him of stealing a CD, she realizes he has other motives for his actions. Meanwhile, Louis and Emery are bursting with excitement when a TV crew comes to shoot an infomercial at Cattleman’s Ranch.

The Real O'Neals - "The Real Heartbreak" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Devastated by his break-up with Brett, Kenny tags along with Pat and Jimmy to a Lonely Hearts happy hour, but when they try to use Kenny’s sadness to get attention from single ladies, Kenny inadvertently steals the show. Meanwhile, Eileen shuns the usual Valentine’s Day traditions until a chance encounter changes her mind.

American Housewife - "Westport Zombies" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Katie, jealous of Taylor’s friendship with neighbor Viv (Leslie Bibb), reluctantly competes in the Westport Halloween “Zombie Run” after she finds out they’ll both be running. Meanwhile, Greg and Anna-Kat get a little too much in character for the “zombie” part of the run’s obstacle course.

New Girl - "Young Adult" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Jess worries that she may not be a cool enough principal, she recruits Nick and “The Pepperwood Chronicles” to help make her popular with the students. Meanwhile, Schmidt hires an eager and overly-aggressive new assistant and Winston realizes that Furguson may be two-timing him.

The Mick - "The New Girl" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Mickey believes Ben’s school is discriminating against him, she stands up for her nephew. Meanwhile, Sabrina and Chip spend time with Alba and learn some surprising things about her.

Kevin Can Wait - "The Power of Positive Drinking" (CBS, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Kevin takes a job as a bartender, he goes too far when he starts dispensing unsolicited advice to his customers.

The Detour - "The Tub" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
As Nate and Robin contemplate having another child, a neighbor's casual get together turns into a home birth; Delilah learns about being a third wheel.

Teachers - "Thirty-One and Done" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Ms. Snap struggles with the idea of turning thirty-one and tries to regain her youth. Ms. Bennigan offers to babysit Blake for Hot Dad. The Teachers deal with every teacher’s nightmare when the copier breaks down.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 27)

Tuesday, February 28

  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She also talks about Table 19 on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 9am hour.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Bradley Whitford (Trophy Wife) - Bradley stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Martin Short (Mulaney/The Martin Short Show) - Martin appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Natalie Zea (The Detour) - Natalie is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Dan Bucatinsky (Marry Me/The Comeback) - Dan drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Connie Britton (Spin City/The Fighting Fitzgeralds/Lost at Home) - Connie appears on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings. She also talks about the new season of Nashville on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David drops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Allison Williams (Girls) - Allison is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Katherine LaNasa (Three Sisters) - Katherine bakes a Mardi Gras king cake on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Craig Robinson (The Office/Mr. Robinson) - Craig talks about Table 19 on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Josh Henderson (One on One) - Josh talks about his The Arrangement on the AOL Build Show at 5pm. He will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Tiffani Thiessen (Saved by the Bell/Saved by the Bell: The College Years) - Tiffani is a guest on The Doctors, so check your local listings.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:50am.