Monday, March 10, 2008

Nose-Talgia Visits The Andy Griffith Show

I was going to write about a new one hour program on broadcast TV tonight, but I barely made it through the first 30 minutes. Rarely have I seen such top notch actors talk-talk-talk about nothing while the camera circled the characters endlessly like a doomed spy satellite orbiting the earth. After 20 minutes of program and 10 minutes of commercials where all the action, drama and plot development was in the advertising, I threw in the towel. Life is far too short to watch new programming that is so dull I have to read Entertainment Weekly while I'm watching just to feel entertained.

Instead, I shall feature a few words about The Andy Griffith Show as my first passionate post for our Nose-Talgia sub-blog. Andy, Opie, Barney and the whole gang still cavort in Mayberry on TV Land, and you can watch whole shows on demand on their website by clicking on either of the links above.

The small town antics of the citizens of Mayberry aired from 1960 through 1968. It was television's first "dramedy", a dreamy tone poem about a sheriff in the deep south who was so kind and reasonable (Andy Griffith), he never had to fire his gun; a deputy so wired and hysterical (Don Knotts as Barney Fife) he wasn't allowed to keep a bullet in his gun; and an adorable freckle faced, red haired kid (Ron Howard as Opie) who grew up to be a very fine award winning Hollywood director.

The Andy Griffith show leaned more towards sweetness than knee slappers, and half the time it didn't even seem to have a laugh track, which was unheard of for a comedy in the early 60's. Even so, Don Knotts won the Emmy five times for his jittery but endearing portrayal as Barney the hapless deputy. Many episodes took on serious topics; the loneliness of Aunt Bee when she felt she had worn out her welcome. The confusion of Opie when he wanted to write a history report about a battle with native Americans, but discovered there were two sides to every story. Who among us, in these times where it seems like society has run amok, wouldn't long for a town where Floyd the barber trims hair and Otis the town drunk lets himself in and out of jail each time he goes on a bender. A few notes of the whistled theme song (The Fishin' Hole" :Music by Earle Hagen) is better than a time machine for transporting a frazzled 21st century soul back to small town America before Peyton Place reminded us that even that milieu had its dark secrets.

Take of your shoes and set a spell. (Yeah, I know that line is from another 1960's comedy, but it works well here). The embedded video above has snippets from several episodes for your viewing pleasure.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Great tribute to a great show! I've always felt that Barney is one of the great tragic figures on TV, ever -- he tries so hard, over-compensating for being skinny and overwrought, being abrupt where he should be kinder (like Andy), and nobody just tells him to chill out, Barn, you're great just as you are. We know he was a bit of a Romeo from when his hair would get all messed up after necking with Thelma Lou -- that was obviously the root of his problem. The boy needed to get laid, and frequently, but back in those days and in a small town and on a policeman's salary...well, even the fun girls from Mt. Pilot probably couldn't help him out too often. I'm certain I'm thinking about this too much, but what a show. Really, it had everything, and still does. Lovely piece, Jane!