A Short Riff by Rusty Aldridge
I have noticed several posts on Face Book in which fans of The Andy Griffith Show (TAGS) have noted that after Don Knotts left and the show was being produced in color, that Andy seemed different. I have noticed this as well. I believe this is one reason I am not a fan of the color episodes. I have nothing against them, I just don’t watch them. The ones with Barney get a pass.
There are a couple of things I know a few things about and one of those things is (TAGS). I also have a little inside info on why Andy’s demeanor took such a drastic change.
In 2002, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Knotts and during a lucid moment (I was a little star struck) I asked him about the change. Here is what he told me. When he (Don) signed the deal with Universal Studios to make those wonderful comedies (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken-The Shakiest Gun in the West, etc.) he had been told, by Andy, that the show would end it’s 5-year run. However, the studio had plans for another 3 seasons. Don, having already signed a contract, for the most part, was out of the picture.
159…that is the total number of black and white episodes. There are 90 color episodes bringing the total to 249. I have seen some of the color episodes but there aren’t any I would go out of my way to see. They don’t grab my heart the way the black and white ones do. I can name a few of the color episodes…the ones with Barney, Aunt Bee drives a car, and if you’re into television lore and legend, Aunt Bee flies a plane. That is the episode where the show jumped the shark*. I could more readily believe that a goat ate a bunch of dynamite and could blow up, than Aunt Bee in a Piper Cub at 5000 feet, banking to the left and calling the tower for permission to land.
I’ve read that Andy Griffith has said that although all the show’s characters were much beloved by the fans, Barney was the heart and soul of the show. Things just went downhill after Barney left. Andy lost his Southern accent, his country ways, and took on a bad attitude, Opie was growing up, Warren was deputy, and Floyd (due to a stroke) was not the same. Andy seemed bitter, impatient, and somewhat unfriendly. I think his head and heart were not in it.
Here’s a Face Book link to a fan page I belong to…https://www.facebook.com/groups/360405267887533 I would not belong to it if the people there were not nice and did not give the show and it’s characters the respect they deserve. Many members were very upset when TAGS was pulled off NETFLIX and quite a few aren’t fans of the color episodes.
Finally, if you’ll notice the color episodes in which Barney comes back from the big city or when Andy goes to visit him, it’s a different story. Andy seems more like Andy. In my opinion, Barney/Don does look good in color and he was the heart and soul of TAGS. Sorry Ernest T. Bass.
*Many people feel that when Fonzie (on Happy Days) jumped over the shark the show got really unbelievable and began a very rapid decline. Opie in two shows that faded? Weird!
Rusty Aldridge is a longtime radio personality and our Man About Wetumpka Town!