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

Wednesday, October 20

The Goldbergs - "An Itch Like No Other" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
With Beverly’s encouragement, Mr. Glascott moves in next door to the Goldbergs and slowly goes from friendly neighbor to cluelessly intrusive. Adam and Murray become increasingly disgruntled while Beverly comes up with a plan to occupy Mr. Glascott’s time with a new friend, Mr. Woodburn. Meanwhile, Barry lands in urgent care with a case of poison ivy in a compromising area – his rear end. Erica and Geoff are called to task to take care of Barry and his ridiculous demands – inadvertently testing their parenting skills and patience with one another.

The Wonder Years - "The Lock In" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Dean is reluctant to attend the annual church lock-in until Kim tells him it’s where she got her first kiss. He enlists his friends to help him pair up with Keisa, but his plans are thwarted when he instead gets paired up with the pastor’s daughter, Charlene.

The Conners - "Trucking Live in Front of a Fully Vaccinated Studio Audience -- East Coast" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Lights, Camera, Action: “The Conners” is going live for both the East and West Coast broadcasts of the season four premiere episode. This iconic TV family continues to deal with the current pandemic while navigating breakups and newfound sobriety, all while planning an upcoming wedding.

Home Economics - "Giant Jenga, $120" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Tom spirals when Connor dates a woman who broke his heart at summer camp. Then, family game night becomes an all-or-nothing competition between Marina and Denise.

Superstar - "Robin Williams" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The new episode recounts his life through Robin Williams’ own voice, describing “the spark of madness” which defined his life. From his early days in the San Francisco Bay Area comedy scene to his meteoric rise on “Mork & Mindy,” the one-hour special explores the experiences that made Williams into a one-of-a-kind talent and reveals what gave voice to the characters in his mind. It also chronicles the creative force driving critically acclaimed films like “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society,” as well as fan favorites such as “Aladdin.” The special explores his personal struggles, including substance abuse and depression, and his battle with Lewy Body Dementia before his tragic death in 2014. “Superstar: Robin Williams” features interviews with famous comedians and actors who knew and admired Williams, including Margaret Cho, Howie Mandel, Lewis Black, Jimmie Walker, Paula Poundstone, Gina Hecht and Pauly Shore, as well as Barry Levinson, director of multiple films starring Williams including “Good Morning, Vietnam.” The program also contains interviews with Williams from the ABC News archives, in which he opens up about his life and the highs and lows of his distinguished career.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 18)

Wednesday, October 20

  • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Watch Rami on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Issa Rae (Insecure) - Issa appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Billy Bob Thornton (Hearts Afire) - Billy Bob is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jamie Foxx (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Debra Messing (Will & Grace/Ned & Stacey) - Debra talks about her latest project: how self-care can change the world on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Ron Howard (Arrested Development/Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) and Clint Howard (Gung Ho) - Ron and Clint discuss their new book, The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Amy Sedaris (No Activity/BoJack Horseman/Strangers with Candy) - It's a TV exclusive with sister and brother duo Amy and David Sedaris appearing together for the first time on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) - Jeremy talks about FBI on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • David Eigenberg (Sex and the City) - David talks about NBC's Chicago Fire on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick talks about Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


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

Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)

06/08 - The Critic - The Complete Series
06/08 - Fuller House - The Fifth and Final Season
06/08 - Fuller House - The Complete Series
06/08 - Our Cartoon President - Season 3
06/15 - The Office - Season 1 (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
06/15 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/07 - No Activity - Season 2
07/13 - The Unicorn - Season 2
07/20 - Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season
07/27 - Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
07/27 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
07/27 - The Neighborhood - Season Three
08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Deluxe Edition (100 Episodes) (Time Life)
08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Standard Edition (50 Episodes) (Time Life)
08/24 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season 2
09/07 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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10/14 - Antenna TV's Bewitched 24-Hour Halloween Marathon; Rewind TV's Sabrina Witch-O-Ween Marathon
10/13 - Head of the Class Reboot Premieres Nov. 4, Guest Stars Robin Givens; The Bear Coming to FX
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10/05 - New Peanuts Holiday Special on Apple TV+, PBS to Air Classic Holiday Specials; COZI TV Acquires Heartland
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09/28 - Nick at Nite Acquires Mike & Molly; NBC Orders Night Court to Series
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09/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 27, 2021)
09/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court Reboot Gets Series Order; Season Premiere Date Set for The Orville
09/24 - Fri-Yay: Ted Lasso Wins Big at The Emmys; CBS Expands Ghosts Premiere to One-Hour; Remembering Willie Garson of Sex and the City, Director Jay Sandrich
09/23 - TBS, TNT and truTV Launch Fall-O-Ween, a Programming Block of Halloween Classics; HBO Max Comedy from Mindy Kaling Debuts November 18
09/22 - Paramount+ Renews Rugrats for 2nd Season; Eva Longoria Producing Disney Sci-Fi Comedy
09/21 - Family Guy, King of the Hill, The Cleveland Show and Futurama Joining FXX; HBO Max's Ten Year Old Tom Details
09/20 - 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards Winners; Turner Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month with George Lopez, Tacoma FD and More