The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D.


The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
Mayberry R.F.D. (1968-1971)
Type: Spin Off
Group: 2

   What is with The Andy Griffith Show spinning off shows with tons of initials? First Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and then Mayberry R.F.D. At least I know U.S.M.C. is United States Marine Corp. I'm not sure what the hell R.F.D. stands for. Oh well.

   At the end of the 1967-1968 season, Andy Griffith decided to leave the still successful Andy Griffith Show. CBS decided to keep it going under the new title Mayberry R.F.D. On the new show, Andy had married his girlfriend Helen Crump and moved away from Mayberry. Sam Jones was the new guy in town. A farmer who, like Andy, was a widower with a young son. Sam soon found himself on the Town Council and instead of the show centering around the Sheriff's Office it now centered around Sam's office. Aunt Bee moved in to keep house for Sam initially but was later replaced by Aunt Alice.

   The show was nearly as popular as The Andy Griffith Show and was only cancelled when CBS made a major move to get rid of "rural" programs like Mayberry R.F.D. and Green Acres.

   In my opinion this was an okay show but cancellation was not a bad idea. Where The Andy Griffith Show had started as a show with an attitude, sharp characters and social observations, by its end and in its new incarnation as Mayberry R.F.D. it was very bland with characters who seemed to be drugged, and not in a good way like Floyd the Barber.

   I mean just compare the basic casts and setup. Inititially you had Sheriff Andy, an apparent hick who actually was smarter than he appeared. You had Deputy Barney Fife who was fairly incompetant but tried so hard and had such a fire in him that you had to like him even when he was bumbling. Andy's son Opie was smart and honest, often doing the right thing even when Andy thought he wasn't or telling the truth even though it made him look foolish or actually made him look like he was a liar. And of course Otis the town drunk who would lock himself into jail for the night and who knew every moonshiner in town. And how about the Hillybilly Darling family! Always funny and a bunch of trouble waiting to happen. Andy's initial girlfriend Ellie Walker was a feminist firebrand in comparison with the rest of Mayberry. And Aunt Bee was the foundation of down home slowness.

   By the end, you had either older Andy who seemd just baffled and confounded by anything close to craziness that arose or Sam who was... well he was played by Ken Berry who comes across as a nice guy but hardly as an attention grabbing, clever and tricky hero. And why would he need to be? He was on the town council. Yawn! The job of Sheriff in a small town asked for lots of community interaction and funny plots but Town Council? That's a meetings and paperwork gig. Forget Barney and Otis. Now we've got elderly Fixit Shop Owner Emmett Clark and Howard Sprague, the middle aged square momma's boy trying and failing to be "hip". These guys lead to plots more painful than funny (although when seen once in a blue moon early on Howard was at least a little endearing). And then there was Sam's son Mike who was so enthralling all I remember about him is him breaking a window with a baseball in the opening credits. And forget the Darlings. They're gone. As to the women of the show, Helen Crump's whole role seemed to be to get mad at Andy for one reason or another. Ellie might have gotten angry but only with good reason and even then she was exciting to watch. Helen would just get bitchy. And Sam's girlfriend... well she had a pulse. As for Aunt Bee... well she had a pulse too. But just to show how things had turned on their heads the show's former anchor of down home slowness Aunt Bea was by the end of her time on the show its most active character and involved in plots that made no sense. Aunt Bee learns to fly a plane? Early on she couldn't even handle driving a car! And her replacement Alice... well does it even matter at this point? They could have had Buffy The Vampire Slayer take Aunt Bee's place and it wouldn't have help wake up this group of living dead. Rant over. Thank you for listening.

Other Andy Griffith Show Crossover Links
The Andy Griffith Show and The Danny Thomas Show/Make Room For Daddy
The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
The Andy Griffith Show and It's Gary Shandling's Show
The Andy Griffith Show and The Joey Bishop Show

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