Saturday, June 28, 2008

TV Rebels: The Andy Griffith Show

It's time for another edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and as we mentioned in April, we have now gotten rights to 6 additional essays, so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! Upcoming TV Rebel columns coming soon are about Rod Serling, Bill Cosby, and Desi Arnaz. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the seventh essay of TV Rebels:

The Andy Griffith Show: Mayberry's Sheriff without a Gun
by Oscar De Los Santos

In many respects, The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) was born out of the network womb of The Danny Thomas Show (1953-1964). A seventh season episode of Danny Thomas featured its star being stopped for speeding by Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith). Soon, the sheriff, his deputy cousin, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), and the town of Mayberry, North Carolina made their network TV series debut on October 3, 1960. Other regular characters included Andy's Aunt Bea (Frances Bavier), who lived with the widowed sheriff and his small son, Opie (Ron Howard); Ellie Walker (Eleanor Donahue), Andy's first girlfriend in the series; Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), the sheriff's later girlfriend; Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), Barney’s girlfriend; Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), who would eventually get his own spin-off show; Goober Pyle (George Lyndsey), who took his cousin's mechanic and gas-pumping job at Wally's Filling Station when Gomer enlisted in the Marines; Otis Campbell (Wallace Smith), the town drunk, Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear) the town barber, Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Aunt Bea's closest friend and friendly rival, and a host of other charming Mayberry citizens.
The show was a sitcom that seemed to defy much of the sharper edged network offerings of its period. It showcased no murders and featured few sarcastic jabs, but rather good-natured humor and thoughtful moral lessons, many of them delivered by Sheriff Taylor via his folksy ruminations. For instance, one episode revolved around Andy teaching Opie to care for orphan birds after the boy kills their mother with a slingshot. Another focused on Andy teaching Opie to defend himself against a bully without stepping in and fighting his son's battles. Other shows featured the highs and lows of Barney buying his first car and Aunt Bea's competition with Clara to make the best pickles for the county fair.
In spite of the show's name and the fact that "Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas designed The Andy Griffith Show to fit the image of its star" (The Andy Griffith Show, The Museum of Broadcast Communications), this was much more than a comedy about a small-town sheriff. Each of the ensemble characters had his and her major episodes and/or significant roles in other stories. Indeed, it's arguable that the program was as much about Barney Fife as about Andy Taylor, since so many of the show's plots were either directly or indirectly focused on Andy's bombastic and braggart deputy.
Another way to view the success of The Andy Griffith Show is to consider the town of Mayberry as the main star of the show. Audiences were willing to tune in for eight years and 249 episodes of the series because they loved the region the characters populated as much as the characters themselves. Mayberry was quintessential small-town America: a gorgeous, clean, peaceful town where a citizen could count on two lawmen to keep the peace and diffuse any problems that arose -- and these were usually no more threatening than finding a way to tell Barney that he was singing out of key and ruining the church choir's performances or making sure that Otis got his breakfast and had sobered up enough to release him from jail and send him home the next morning. Do such ideal locales really exist? Maybe not on the level of TV's Mayberry, but according to Ken Beck and Jim Clark, "The fictional town of Mayberry was partially influenced by the town of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's hometown. Much of the show's realism drws from Andy Griffith's use of Mt. Airy as a model for Mayberry. The names of many of Mayberry’s townspeople, businesses, and streets, and landmarks can be found in and around Mt. Airy" (xv).
The Andy Griffith Show can be compared to Gunsmoke (1955-1975), another immensely popular program with its own streak of TV rebellion (see Gunsmoke in this volume). Like The Andy Griffith Show, Gunsmoke was as much about its ensemble cast and setting as about its main star. Early episodes often centered on Marshall Matt Dillon but as the Western's tenure on the air stretched on, its stories focused on Chester, Miss Kitty, Doc, Festus, and other characters. Moreover, just as Andy Griffith Show audiences fixated on Sheriff Andy Taylor's Mayberry, they focused on Marshall Matt Dillon's Dodge City; but while many viewers would have loved to trade their own hometowns for Mayberry, few dreamed of jumping into the squared electronic box and actually taking up residence in Dodge. After all, crime in Mayberry was so low that the town sheriff didn't wear a gun and his deputy carried his six-shooter's only bullet in his shirt pocket, but Dodge City was all about crime -- a rough Old West location where life was tough, the bullets flew frequently, and shot bodies dropped to the gritty earth each week. Two shows spinning their own historical mythos? Perhaps, but The Andy Griffith Show provided a more gentle wishful thinking for an increasingly jaded American populace.

Works Cited
Andy Griffith Show, The. Museum of Broadcast Communications.
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/A/htmlA/andygriffith/andygriffith.htm. January 15, 2008.
Beck, Ken and Jim Clark. The Andy Griffith Show Book. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995. (Revised 35th Anniversary Edition.)

Works Consulted
The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. http://www.mayberry.com/. January 15, 2008.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 16

The Goldbergs - "Animal House" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Barry decides to rush a fraternity, but it doesn’t quite work out as he expects. Meanwhile, Beverly and Murray find themselves getting closer to being empty nesters, which means more hobbies and activities for Beverly and more TV for Murray.

Schooled - "Kick Like a Girl" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Hoping to improve the football team’s chances at winning the title, Coach Mellor and Principal Glascott recruit star soccer player Felicia to kick field goals. But soon, she is treated like one of the guys, which affects her relationship with fellow player Reza. Meanwhile, CB chaperones an overnight ski trip and hopes to get in some quality time with Lainey but is constantly thwarted by socially awkward Tom Scott.

Modern Family - "Pool Party" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mitch and Cam help Lily overcome her insecurities about wearing a bathing suit to a pool party but discover their own. Meanwhile, now that Gloria’s new internship is taking up so much of her time, Jay is feeling particularly neglected.

Single Parents - "Big Widow Wives" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After a house incident leaves Graham in fear of staying in his and Angie’s home, Angie enlists Will to help her get the house back together; however, there is a hiccup in the plan as Angie discovers a possum on the loose that she has to deal with. Meanwhile, Poppy discovers that Douglas is lying to her about a weekly poker game he must attend, as he participates in a weekly widow’s support group instead, causing Poppy to get a little jealous of his emotional vulnerability with the women in his support group.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Chokes" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Annoyed that the gang failed to react as he nearly choked to death on an appetizer, Frank decides the waiter, his savior, is the only person who has his back.

Family Time - "Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Devin starts dating an older woman, which has Tony and Lisa concerned; Ebony's school project inspires her to go vegan.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 14)

Wednesday, October 16

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Watch Jennifer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Dane Cook (Maybe This Time) - Dane appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi) - Whoopi is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Goodman (The Conners/Roseanne/Center of the Universe/Normal, Ohio) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie/Burning Love/Players) - June appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) and Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Thomas and Whitney are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa chats with the ladies of The View about her book Project Middle School (Alyssa Milano’s Hope #1) on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Rapaport (Awkward/The War at Home) - Michael stops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory/8 Simple Rules) - Kaley is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself/Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/Wild Oats) - Paul talks about Netflix's Living with Yourself on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ali Wong (American Housewife/Are You There, Chelsea?) - Ali talks about Dear Girls on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William talks about The Good Place on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Angela Kinsey (The Office/Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine) and Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) - Angela and Jenna talk about the Office Ladies Podcast on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the BUILD Series at 2pm.
  • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie talks about her book Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years on the BUILD Series at 5pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (August/September/October)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series

08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Fourth Season
08/13 - I Love Lucy - Colorized Collection
08/13 - Leave it to Beaver - Seasons One and Two
08/20 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six
08/27 - Baskets - The Complete Season Four
08/27 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Thirteenth Season
09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

10/15 - Sarah Silverman Returning to HBO with Late Night Series; Craig Ferguson to Host ABC Game Show
10/14 - ABC Gears Up for Halloween with Specials and Sitcom Episodes; truTV Comedy Returns for Season 5
10/13 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 14, 2019)
10/12 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Walker, Texas Ranger Reboot in the Works; South Park Banned in China
10/11 - Fri-Yay: Another Netflix Original to End as BoJack Horseman Announces Final Season; TNT Sets Halloween Supernatural Marathon
10/10 - Daily Show Correspondent Gets Comedy Special; Fox Gets Jenna Dewan for Dance Show
10/09 - Remembering TV Legend Diahann Carroll; Marvel and Hulu Bring New Series
10/08 - Search Party Moving to HBO Max for Seasons 3 and 4; Disney Gets More Gabby Duran & the Unsittables
10/07 - 2019 New York Comic Con Round Up
10/06 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 7, 2019)
10/05 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Cherie Johnson to Reprise Role in Punky Brewster Sequel; Pop TV Renews Florida Girls
10/04 - Fri-Yay: New Sitcoms: First Week Impressions; Pop Goes Back to Florida for Poverty Sitcom
10/03 - The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show Coming Soon to Netflix; Family Time Returns for Season Seven
10/02 - Visit Schitt's Creek Pop-Up; Viacom Networks Finish 2018-19 Strong
10/01 - HGTV Goes Behind the Brady Bunch Build; LMN Sets 25 All-New TV Movies This Fall
09/30 - Freeform Says Everything's Gonna Be Okay with New Comedy; HBO Max Teams Up with Ellen for 4 Projects
09/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 30, 2019)
09/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: thirtysomething Reboot in the Works; Decades Celebrates Brady Bunch 50th Anniversary
09/27 - Fri-Yay: Primetime Emmy Results for Comedy; AFV Gets 30th Anniversary Special
09/26 - Seinfeld Moving from TBS to Viacom Networks in 2021; Tell Me a Story Returns Dec. 5 with New Cast
09/25 - NBC Fall Pilot Review: Sunnyside - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26); CBS Fall Pilot Review: Carol's Second Act - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26)
09/24 - NBC Fall Pilot Review: Perfect Harmony - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26); CBS Fall Pilot Review: The Unicorn - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26)
09/23 - CBS Fall Pilot Review: Bob Hearts Abishola - Premieres Monday (Sept. 23); ABC Fall Pilot Review: mixed-ish - Premieres Tuesday (Sept. 24)
09/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 23, 2019)
09/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Reboots for The Office and Even Hogan's Heroes?; The Boondocks Returning for Two New Seasons on HBO Max
09/20 - Fri-Yay: Primetime Emmy Predictions for Comedy; Paramount Heads to Paris for New Comedy
09/19 - Pop TV Renews Schitt's Creek for Sixth and Final Season, Fifth Season Marathon to Air on Sept. 21; HBO Max Revives The Boondocks
09/18 - NBC Streaming Service Peacock Sets Reboots of Saved by the Bell & Punky Brewster; The Big Bang Theory Coming to HBO Max, While TBS Renews Through 2028
09/17 - ABC Sets Reunions of Cheers, The Drew Carey Show, Girlfriends, Charmed, Castle and More; NBC Renews Titan Games for Season 2
09/16 - Nick Slates Are You Afraid of the Dark? Premiere; Spectrum Originals Drama Goes Back Into Production for Season 2 in 2020
09/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 16, 2019)