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

Thursday, January 21

Young Sheldon - "Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
College orientation does not go as Sheldon planned. Also, Mary is invited to a party when she’s mistaken for a university student, and George Sr. helps Pastor Jeff set up a children’s nursery.

B Positive - "Open Heart Surgery" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Gina needs to keep herself together to pass a psych evaluation while dealing with the news of an ex’s engagement.

Mom - "Woo-Woo Lights and an Onside Kick" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bonnie and the ladies indulge Jill when she goes to extremes to get her relationship with Andy (Will Sasso) back on track.

The Unicorn - "The First Supper" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Wade decides to introduce Shannon to his friends, the get-together quickly takes an awkward turn. Also, Noah tries to fit in with the older kids since he’s tired of being one of the babies.

Call Me Kat - "Therapy" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Sheila comes to stay with Kat to avoid being home alone, Sheila's lack of boundaries leads them to try therapy; Phil and Randi make a road trip to buy Phil's mother medicinal marijuana.

Last Man Standing - "Jen Again" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Mike surprises Vanessa with a visit from Jen that might last longer than expected; Ryan asks Chuck for advice to impress his new corporate boss on the golf course.

Mr. Mayor - "The Sac" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
A special assignment forces Jayden and Arpi to get to know each other; Neil sets out on a mission to reconnect with Orly after she gets into a little trouble.

Superstore - "Biscuit" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After returning from quarantine, Glenn enlists Cheyenne and Bo's help to get Dina to relinquish control; Jonah and Mateo have second thoughts about helping Sandra with her cat's medical needs; Garrett struggles with customer returns.

grown-ish - "Public Service Announcement" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After dropping out of Cal U and diving into her dream job, Zoey balances the demands of her work life and her personal life.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 18)

Thursday, January 21

  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Catch Allison on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Alison Brie (GLOW/Parks and Recreation) - Alison appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Regina King (The Boondocks/227) - Regina is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/30 Rock) - Jane will be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Francia Raisa (grown-ish) - Francia appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Yara Shahidi (grown-ish/black-ish) - Yara talks about grown-ish on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris talks about The Resident on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Sara Gilbert (The Conners/Roseanne/Living Biblically/Bad Teacher/Twins) - Sara talks about The Conners on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September-January)

Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
09/15 - South Side - Season 1
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection
11/17 - Carol's Second Act - The Complete Series
11/17 - Robbie - Season 1
11/24 - Corporate - Season 1
11/26 - Man with a Plan - Season Four
12/01 - The Neighborhood - Season Two
12/15 - Avenue 5 - The Complete First Season

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