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 / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Tuesday, April 23

Lopez vs Lopez - "Lopez vs Dreams" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When George's vivid dreams reveal he has feelings for Rosie, he avoids sleeping and gets distracted at work; when Chance tests at a genius-level IQ, Mayan and Quinten fear that they're a couple of dum-dums.

Lopez vs Lopez - "Lopez vs Lisa" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Mayan worries when George gets into a hairy situation dating a hot hairdresser; Josué gets locked into a competition with the other man in Rosie's life: her grandson, Chance.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 22)

Tuesday, April 23

  • Wanda Sykes (The Upshaws/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Catch Wanda on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Gabriel Iglesias (Mr. Iglesias/Cristela) - Gabriel appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Esther Povitsky (Dollface/Alone Together) - Esther appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Hannah Waddingham (Krapopolis/Ted Lasso) - Hannah is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Maya Rudolph (Loot/Bless the Harts/Forever/Up All Night) - Maya appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) and Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Drew and Thomas are guests on After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers/Frasier) - Bebe will be on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
  • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - NBC's Today catches up with John in the 9am hour.
  • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) - Zendaya will be on ABC's Good Morning America some time between 7-9am.
  • Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio/The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Gina Rodriguez (Not Dead Yet) - Gina talks about ABC's Dead to Me on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
  • Jennifer Tilly (Out of Practice) - Jennifer talks about the new season of Chucky on USA & SYFY Networks on Sherri, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray

Father Knows Best - The Complete Series Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series Check It Out! - The Complete Series

12/05 - Father Knows Best - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/12 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series
12/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 2 (Blu-ray)
12/12 - That Girl - The Complete Series
12/15 - Letterkenny - Season 11
12/19 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series
12/22 - Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection (includes The Ropers and Three's a Crowd)
01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One
03/12 - Ghosts (UK) - The Complete Series
03/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 3 (Blu-ray)
03/12 - Rick and Morty - Season 7 (Blu-ray Steelbook) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
04/03 - Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series (VEI)
04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)

The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) That Girl - The Complete Series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series

More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

04/22 - Hasan Minhaj: Off With His Head Comedy Tour Expands Into June & July, Including at NJPAC; Comedy Central Orders Golden Axe
04/21 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 22, 2024)
04/20 - SitcomsOnline Digest: CBS Cancels Two Series and Picks Up New Soap Opera; Potential New Buyer Interested in Paramount
04/19 - Nikki Glaser Gets HBO Special; Peacock and UK Channel 4's We Are Lady Parts Season 2
04/18 - Acapulco Returns May 1; Iliza Shlesinger Heads to Prime Video
04/17 - 31st SAG Awards Airs on Netflix Next February; Prime Video Orders Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Spinoff with Host Travis Kelce
04/16 - ABC Renews The Rookie for Season 7; CBS Orders New Soap Opera The Gates
04/15 - Paramount+ Announces Final Season of Animated Star Trek Comedy; Lifetime May 2024 Movies
04/14 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 15, 2024)
04/13 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Talk Coming to an End at CBS; CBS Renews The Neighborhood
04/12 - Netflix Orders Tom Segura Comedy Series; Surprise! S.W.A.T. Gets Uncanceled...Again
04/11 - Max's Velma Returns April 25; Eva Longoria Apple TV+ Series Premieres in June
04/10 - CBS Renews NCIS and The Neighborhood; Max's Pretty Little Liars Returns May 9
04/09 - CBS 2023-24 Season Finale Dates; Hacks Star Gets Max Comedy Special
04/08 - Letterman's My Next Guest Returns April 30; Jack McBrayer HGTV Series Premieres May 3
04/07 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 8, 2024)
04/06 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Cancels Quantum Leap; Airdate Set for Final Pat Sajak Wheel of Fortune Episode
04/05 - Hulu Spring and Summer 2024 Slate; Netflix Orders Tyler Perry Drama; Remembering Joe Flaherty
04/04 - Apple TV+ The Big Door Prize Returns April 24; ABC Renews Will Trent for Season 3
04/03 - Sony Pictures and Game Show Network Upfront; ABC Renews Grey's Anatomy and 9-1-1 for 2024-25
04/02 - Adult Swim's Smiling Friends Returns May 12; Stallone Drama Returning for Season 2
04/01 - Selena Gomez Gets New Food Network Series; Orphan Black Gets New Series
03/31 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 1, 2024)
03/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Patricia Richardson on Potential Home Improvement Reboot; Paramount+ Removes Several Nickelodeon Series
03/29 - Hulu Launches on Disney+; Under the Bridge Premieres April 17
03/28 - Netflix's Good Times Animated Comedy Trailer; Too Close for Comfort and Check It Out! Complete Series on DVD
03/27 - The Upshaws Part 5 This April; Max Orders Noah Wyle Medical Drama
03/26 - Apple TV+ Orders Star-Studded Comedy; Elizabeth Banks Joins New Peacock Series
03/25 - Disney Channel Orders Wizards of Waverly Place Revival; Paramount+ Animated Comedy Ark: The Animated Series
03/24 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of March 25, 2024)
03/23 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Good Times Animated Reboot; NBC Renews Several Popular Series
03/22 - NBC Renews Nearly All Chicago and Law & Order Series; Goosebumps Season 2 Cast Update