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Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. is an American situation comedy that originally aired on CBS from September 25, 1964 to May 2, 1969.

The series was a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show, where the premise was introduced in an episode which aired on May 19, 1964. The show featured Jim Nabors reprising his role as the bumbling, but lovable, Gomer Pyle, who had left the town of Mayberry and joined the U.S. Marine Corps (Gomer's cousin, Goober Pyle, replaced him back home at Wally's filling station). The series mostly revolved around Pyle's misadventures in the Marines, usually ending with his good-naturedness winning over adversity, especially his hard-nosed Drill Instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter (played by Frank Sutton).

Andy Griffith himself had played a similar character in the 1958 motion picture version of No Time for Sergeants. Warner Brothers Television premiered their own No Time for Sergeants (TV series) in 1964 that was scheduled opposite The Andy Griffith Show.

Plot

After twelve weeks at Boot Camp, Gomer and the others graduated and were to go to South Carolina for advanced training. At this same time, drill instructor Vince Carter left to become an Infantry trainer at Camp Henderson in California. At Camp Henderson, Sgt. Carter discovered that the new Marines he had to train were his old Boot Camp platoon, including Gomer. They had been switched from S.C. to California at the last minute.

Ronnie Schell played Gomer's best friend Private Gilbert "Duke" Slater, who later returns to the series as a corporal (after starring in Good Morning, World for a year). Other semi-regular characters were Sergeant Hacker, Bunny Wilson (Carter's girlfriend) and Lu Ann Poovie (Gomer's girlfriend). Some of the actors who played Gomer's fellow marines included Larry Hovis (Hogan's Heroes), Joe E. Tata (Beverly Hills, 90210), William Christopher (M*A*S*H), Ted Bessell (That Girl) and Jack Larson (Superman).

To preserve ratings and retain the lightheartedness of the series, CBS ignored the growing Vietnam War/conflict. Due to Gomer's humility, he never sought promotion beyond the rank of Private First Class. In fact, he only became a PFC because Sgt. Carter wanted a 100% PFC platoon. Gomer, therefore, mostly remained at his California base. While Aunt Bee Taylor, Grandpa Pyle, and cousin Goober visited Gomer at his barracks, Gomer only returned to Mayberry once during the series run but the Taylors and Goober were away on a trip. Gomer was given the opportunity to sing in some episodes, as he had done in Mayberry, thus showcasing Nabors' rich baritone voice. The talent seemed at odds with the slow-witted, country boy persona. Producer Sheldon Leonard would later say, "Gomer and Crazy Guggenheim were America's favorite savants". Jim Nabors believes that Gomer was embraced because he was uncomplicated and innocent.

After 37 years as a private, on August 9, 2001 Gomer Pyle was finally "promoted" to Lance Corporal with Commandant Gen. James L. Jones pinning the insignia on Jim Nabors at a ceremony at Camp Smith.

Cast

List of The Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Characters

Notable guest stars

The program featured guest-starring roles and/or cameo appearances by:

  • Little Feat guitarist Lowell George appeared in the episode "Lost, the Colonel's Daughter" (Season 3, Episode 26) with his group (in 1967) The Factory
  • Miss USA 1958, Arlene Howell plays "Flora" in an unusually memorable 1966 episode ("Sergeant Carter Dates a Pyle" Season 2 Episode 20 (Episode 50)), in which Gomer paired her off with a dumbfounded Sergeant Carter (Frank Sutton).

DVD Releases

CBS Home Entertainment has released the first four seasons of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on DVD in Region 1. The fifth and final season is scheduled for release on November 25, 2008.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
The Complete First Season 30 December 12, 2006

  • All 30 Season One episodes, Digitally Remastered
  • Audio introductions by Jim Nabors on all 30 episodes
  • Pilot episode: Gomer Pyle, USMC from The Andy Griffith Show
  • Option to view pilot with sales presentation
  • Audio commentary by Jim Nabors on pilot episode and Gomer Overcomes the Obstacle Course
  • Audio commentary by Ronnie Schell on Gomer and the Dragon Lady
  • Clip from The Lucy Show: Lucy Gets Caught in the Draft
  • Clip of Jim Nabors on The David Frost Show
  • Clip of The Jim Nabors Hour

The Second Season 30 June 26, 2007
  • All 30 Season Two episodes, Digitally Remastered
  • Some music has been changed for this version
  • Some episodes may be edited from their original broadcast
  • No bonus features

The Third Season 30 December 11, 2007
  • All 30 Season Three episodes, Digitally Remastered
  • Some music has been changed for this version
  • Some episodes may be edited from their original broadcast
  • No bonus features

The Fourth Season 30 May 20, 2008

  • All 30 Season Four episodes, Digitally Remastered
  • Some music has been changed for this version
  • Some episodes may be edited from their original broadcast
  • No bonus features

The Final Season 30 November 25, 2008

  • All 30 Season Five episodes, Digitally Remastered
  • Some music has been changed for this version
  • Some episodes may be edited from their original broadcasts
  • No bonus features

Criticism

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. has often been criticized for repeated plot lifting directly from its parent show, The Andy Griffith Show. Below are just a few examples which illustrate the obvious similarities found in script details of both shows.

Show Episode Original Airdate Plot
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. "To Save A Life" January 31, 1969 Sgt. Carter saves Gomer's life. Gomer becomes an annoyance with his constant devotion to repay his debt to Sgt. Carter. Later, Gomer passes out from gas fumes while fixing a heater and Sgt. Carter rescues him again. But when Gomer wakes up, Sgt. Carter lies and tells Gomer how he saved the Sergeant's life and that they are now even.
The Andy Griffith Show "Andy Saves Gomer" March 16, 1964 Andy Taylor saves Gomer's life. Gomer becomes an annoyance with his constant devotion to repay his debt to Andy. Later, Gomer passes out from gas fumes while fixing a heater and Andy rescues him again. But when Gomer wakes up, Andy lies and tells Gomer how he saved Andy's life and that they are now even.
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. "Marry Me, Marry Me" November 16, 1966 Gomer goes on one date and discovers that he accidentally got engaged to the young woman. Gomer is then threatened with a Breach of Contract lawsuit and Sgt. Carter helps him out of the sticky situation.
The Andy Griffith Show "Barney on the Rebound" October 30, 1961 Barney Fife goes on one date and discovers that he accidentally got engaged to the young woman. Barney is then threatened with a Breach of Contract lawsuit and Sheriff Taylor helps him out of the sticky situation.
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. "Goodbye Dolly" February 23, 1968 Gomer accepts the responsibility of taking care of an old, retired, white horse named Dolly, finding the task harder than he anticipated.
The Andy Griffith Show "Goodbye Dolly" March 3, 1967

Opie Taylor accepts the responsibility of taking care of an old, retired, white horse named Dolly, finding the task harder than he anticipated.

Nielsen Ratings

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. stayed on the Top 10 of the Nielsen Ratings for each of its five seasons.

Season Ranking
1964-65 #3
1965-66 #2
1966-67 #10
1967-68 #3
1968-69 #2

Trivia

  • On The Simpsons, in the episode "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes", Homer flashes back to watching Gomer Pyle as he mourns the loss of his couch. In "Bart Gets an Elephant", Homer is cleaning out the basement, finds an old TV Guide, and imagines Pyle and Carter repeating their respective catch phrases "Shazam!" and "PYLE!".
  • The term "Gomer Pyle" is used by Marine Corps Drill Instructors as a personal epithet for recruits that are perceived as "goldbricking" (being lazy), or not responding/adjusting to training properly. This usage is shown in the Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket. It was also briefly a nickname for the X-Men character Cannonball (who was a rookie from the country at the time).
  • US pilots flying missions over Vietnam often called Soviet MiG-19 and MiG-21 pilots "Gomers" due to their large goggles.
  • EMS and hospital workers are known to refer to chronically ill or feeble elderly patients as "Gomers" (Matching up to the phrase "Get Out of MY ER.")
  • "Gomer" is a Biblical name, the name of a grandson of Noah [Genesis 10:2], as well as the name of the wife of Hosea [Hosea 1:3].
  • Andy Griffith, Frances Bavier, Ron Howard and George Lindsey made guest appearances on the spin-off series playing the same characters from The Andy Griffith Show. Denver Pyle played Briscoe Darling in six episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and played tomato farmer Titus Purcell in the Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C episode "The Price of Tomatoes" (Season 4, Episode 25 - Original Air Date: March 1, 1968). And Allan Melvin, who played a wide variety of characters in eight different episodes of The Andy Griffith Show was a regular on Gomer Pyle, playing Sergeant Carter's arch rival, Sergeant Hacker.
  • Hosts on Air America Radio The Majority Report Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder often play clips of Gomer saying his favorite phrase, which Gomer said when Sgt. Carter got caught in an embarrassing situation, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!, in Nabors' inimitable Southern accent.
  • An extract from the episode "Gomer Says 'Hey' to the President" (Season 4, Episode 7 - Original Air Date: October 20, 1967), including the catchphrase Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!, is used on the background/intro track on the Pink Floyd song "Nobody Home" from the concept album The Wall. The song may be critical of the series, as a line in the song goes, "Got thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from."
  • Jim Nabors guested in the role of Gomer Pyle at the end of an episode of The Lucy Show, "Lucy Gets Caught Up in the Draft", aired on November 14, 1966 - Lucy Carmichael had been drafted into the Marines, proven to be unable to handle the training, and discharged with the help of Mr. Mooney; her sergeant told her, "After you, I couldn't get a bigger knucklehead", whereupon Gomer showed up, newly transferred from Sgt. Carter's unit.

References

External links

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