Thursday, July 8, 2021

My Favorite Classic Sitcoms
- The Andy Griffith Show

As some of you may know, old movies and classic sitcoms are my first choice any time I want to watch a little TV. Even though some of the content is dated and in today's age even considered offensive at times,  there is something about rewatching the shows from my childhood that I find powerfully therapeutic. The familiar faces are like old friends, and the storylines are easy to just jump into at anytime and I'm assured that I'll leave feeling better for the experience. 

Lately I've become obsessed with The Andy Griffith Show. I've been watching one or two episodes a day, either in the late afternoon before I make dinner or in the evening. I'm currently on the fifth episode of the third season, and since there are eight seasons, I'm not even half way at this point!

The Andy Griffith Show first aired on October 3, 1960, one year, one month and eight days before I would make own debut into the world, and it ran for eight seasons, ending on April 1, 1968 when I was six years old, so it's more than likely that my memories are from re-runs than from the actual show itself. Though I do recall spending many nights in front of the tv with my family, at that age I doubt if I could actually recall what we watched. 

Something I discovered just last night is that it got it's start as a spin-off from  The Danny Thomas Show, another favorite I discovered in my twenties when Nick At Nite was in it's prime and included some other greats such as, The Patty Duke Show, The Donna Reed Show and Dobie Gillis, just to name a few.Back in the day I would turn it on around 7:00 p.m. and let it play into the early hours of the morning. It was the best! And while you can find all of those sitcoms sill in syndication today, they're scattered across several networks and harder to streamline. It was nice when it was all in one place. MeTV is about the closest thing I think you can find these days, if you have an antenna that will pick up local channels or cable. TV Land has some classic shows, but I find most of their line up unappealing, and it also requires cable. Anyway, I'm venturing off a bit here, but if you want to watch the episode that started it all, you'll find it here. Which reminds me, if you're not looking to watch every episode in order, You Tube is a great place to find classic tv shows, as well as The Internet Archives, but now back to Andy Griffith!

Like so many people, I'm sure, one of the things I like best about this series is the relationship between Andy and Opie. Was there ever a cuter red headed boy than Ronny Howard?, and of course he went on to make quite a name for himself! I love him, even today! Even though it was scripted, there was just something about Andy's manner and spirit in guiding and raising his son that has always moved me. And he carried that over into his job as Sheriff as well, extolling his small-town wisdom to friends and family alike. Andy Taylor was a healing balm in the quickly changing world of the 1960's, with the birth control pill sparking a sexual revolution, the battle over civil rights was escalating, and the war in Vietnam was tearing the country's political system into pieces. In some ways, it seems that in 2021, history is repeating itself, and in the midst of our current turmoil, a trip to Mayberry is still refreshing for the soul.

And of course, the show just wouldn't be the same without Barney, who is probably my favorite character.

I fell in love with the humor of Don Knotts all those years ago and he has remained one of my all time favorites any time I need a good laugh. I think I own every movie he ever made, my favorite's being The Ghost and Mr. Chicken *(featuring many of the cast members from the show), and The Reluctant Astronaut . We watch The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Private Eyes every year around Halloween, they are both timeless classics! But my favorite role Don every portrayed was as Deputy Barney Fife and it made him in star, so big in fact, that he left the series in 1965 to pursue his movie career, but still made guest appearances until it ended three years later.

While doing some research for this post I discovered that I am obviously not alone in my love for all things Mayberry, and if you love it, too, then you might enjoy perusing a few of these links.

- The Moral Lessons of Mayberry - article about a church that has turned watching The Andy Griffith Show into a bible study. There's also The Mayberry Bible Study Podcast, if you want to join in!
- Aunt Bea's Mayberry Cookbook or try out some recipes from this online cookbook.
- The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

A few years ago while were on a vacation my husband and I unexpectedly happened upon Mount Airy, North Carolina, the small town where Andy Griffith lived until he graduated from high school. Here you will find a replica of the sheriff's office and court house, Wally's Service Station, and the very home where Andy grew up is a bed and breakfast! There are many other sights, including The Andy Griffith Museum which boasts a bronze statue of Andy and Opie going fishing, and The Andy Griffith Playhouse. You can even tour the city in a replica squad car just like the ones Andy and Barney drove in the series. We had such a good time when we were there and it's on my list to visit again. We were actually on our way to another destination so we didn't get to see everything, but we made sure to hit the highlights, including the sheriff's office. You can learn more about Mount Airy (Mayberry), here. Or you can borrow this book from the Internet Archives;

If you're as big a fan as I am, you might also enjoy The Mayberry Trivia Challenge. I only got 11 out of 25 corret, so maybe I need to keep watching? If you take it, leave a message in the comments and tell me how you scored!

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