The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom first televised by CBS between October 3 1960 and April 1 1968. Andy Griffith portrays a sheriff in a fictional small community in North Carolina. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight season run, two of Griffith's co-stars won a total of six Emmy Awards. The series was a hit, never placing lower than seventh in the Nielsen Ratings and ending its run at number one. The show spawned a spin-off series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964), a sequel series Mayberry R.F.D. (1968), and a reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry (1986). Reruns currently air across the United States, and the complete series is available on DVD.
Plot and characters
The series' plot revolves around Sheriff Andy Taylor
) and his life in sleepy, slow-paced Mayberry
, North Carolina
. Sheriff Taylor's level-headed approach to law enforcement makes him the bane of local moonshiners
and out-of-town criminals, while his abilities to settle community problems with common sense advice, mediation and conciliation make him popular with his fellow citizens. His professional life, however, is complicated by the gaffes of his overzealous and comically inept cousin and deputy, Barney Fife
). Andy socializes with male friends in the main street barbershop and dates various ladies until a schoolteacher becomes his steady interest in the third season. At home, Andy enjoys fishing trips with his son, Opie
), and quiet evenings on the front porch with his maiden aunt and housekeeper Aunt Bee
). Opie tests his father's parenting skills season after season and Aunt Bee's ill-considered romances and adventures cause her nephew concern.
Andy's friends and neighbors include barber Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear), service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) and Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), and local drunkard Otis Campbell (Hal Smith). Aunt Bee's friend Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Barney's sweetheart Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) and Andy's schoolteacher sweetheart Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut) make appearances. Elinor Donahue made twelve appearances as Andy's girlfriend in the first season. In the color seasons, County Clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), handyman Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), and Barney's replacement deputy Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns) join the cast. Unseen characters such as telephone operator Sarah and Barney's passive love interest Juanita from the local diner are often referenced. In the series' last episodes, farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) debuts and becomes the star of the sequel series.
The genesis of The Andy Griffith Show
lies in a February 1960 episode of The Danny Thomas Show
. There, Griffith as Sheriff Taylor arrests Thomas
for running a Mayberry stop sign. Frances Bavier appears as widow Henrietta Perkins and Ron Howard is briefly seen as Opie. The following October, The Andy Griffith Show
made its debut.
The show's production team included creator and executive producer Sheldon Leonard
, producers Aaron Ruben
(1960-1965) and Bob Ross
(1965-1968), and writers Leo Solomon
, Ben Gershman
, Jim Fritzell
and Everett Greenbaum
among others. In the sixth season, Greenbaum and Fritzell left the show and Ruben departed for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
, a show he partly owned. Writer Harvey Bullock
left after season six, and, by season eight, the show had an entirely new team of writers. Bob Sweeney
directed the first three seasons save the premiere.
The show was filmed at Desilu Studios, with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres. Woodsy locales, including the opening sequence with its whistled theme, were filmed north of Beverly Hills at Franklin Canyon Lake.
The show's theme music, "The Fishin' Hole", was composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer, with lyrics written by Everett Sloane. Whistling in the opening sequence was performed by Earle Hagen. One of the show's tunes, "The Mayberry March", was reworked a number of times in different tempi, styles and orchestrations as background music.
The show's sole sponsor was General Foods, with promotional consideration paid for (in the form of cars) by Ford Motor Company.
The show was retitled Andy of Mayberry for its initial daytime rerun package in 1964, to distinguish the repeat episodes from the then-new episodes airing in prime time and continued to turn up in syndication over the ensuing decades.
The show comprises 8 full seasons and 249 episodes — 159 episodes in black and white (seasons 1-5) and 90 in color (seasons 6-8). Griffith appears in all 249 episodes with Bavier coming in second at 239. Only Griffith, Howard, Bavier, Knotts, and Hope Summers appeared in all eight seasons. Knotts left the show at the end of the fifth season to pursue a career in films but returned to make five guest appearances as Barney in seasons six through eight. His last appearance was the most watched episode of the series.
Spinoffs and reunion movie
At the end of the show's fourth season (May 1964), the backdoor pilot
"Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
" aired, and, the following September, spinoff series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
debuted with Jim Nabors in his Gomer role and Frank Sutton
as drill instructor
Sergeant Vince Carter. Ron Howard made a guest appearance as Opie during the show's run.
In the last episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, character Sam Jones was introduced and a sequel series Mayberry R.F.D. was fashioned around him. Several performers reprised their original roles in the sequel, with Bavier becoming Sam's housekeeper. Andy and Helen were married in the first episode, remained for a few episodes then left the show with a move to Raleigh being the explanation given the audience. After the sequel series' cancellation in 1971, George Lindsey reprised his Goober character over a ten year period on the popular variety show Hee Haw.
In 1986, the reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry was broadcast with several cast members appearing in their original roles. Absent, however, was Frances Bavier. She had retired from acting, was in poor health, living in Siler City, North Carolina, and declined to participate. In the telemovie, Aunt Bee is dead and Andy visits her grave.
published two The Andy Griffith Show comic books
during the show's first-run. In 2004, copies in Near Mint condition were priced in excess of $500 each. The show's enduring popularity has created considerable merchandise since its first-run including board games, bobblehead dolls, kitchenware, books, and other items. In 2007, a line of canned foods inspired by the show was made available in grocery stores across America. Griffith's hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina annually hosts a week-long "Mayberry Days" celebration featuring concerts, parades, and appearances by the show's players.
Between 2004 and 2006, CBS Home Entertainment
released all eight seasons as single-season packages on Region 1 DVD. The complete series was released as a boxed set in 2007 (ISBN141573159) and includes the pilot from The Danny Thomas Show
, the telemovie Return to Mayberry
, and an episode from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
featuring Ron Howard. Sixteen episodes from the show's third season are available on discount DVDs.
Ratings, honors, and awards
The Andy Griffith Show
consistently placed in the top ten during its run.
A Neilsen study conducted during the show's last season (1967) indicated the show ranked #1 among blue collar workers followed by The Lucy Show and Gunsmoke. Among white collar workers, the show ranked #3 following Saturday Movies and The Dean Martin Show.
Don Knotts won five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, in 1961-63, 1966 and 1967, the last two for guest appearances. Frances Bavier won one Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1967. The show received its only Emmy nomination in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series, losing to a new show, The Monkees. In 2002, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show ninth on its list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
- Beck, Ken, and Clark, Jim. The Andy Griffith Show Book. St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.
- Beck, Ken, and Clark, Jim. Mayberry Memories. Rutledge Hill Press, 2000.
- Fann, Joey. The Way Back to Mayberry. Broadman and Holman, 2001. (ISBN 0805424202).
- Kelly, Richard. The Andy Griffith Show. Blair, 1981.
- Rueter, Ted. What Andy, Opie, and Barney Fife Mean to Americans, Even in the 1990s.
- ScottC. The Andy Griffith Show: Complete First Season (1960) Needcoffee.com.
- Vaughn, Don Rodney. Why "The Andy Griffith Show" is Important to Popular Culture. Journal of Popular Culture, 2004.