|The Andy Griffith Show|
Opening sequence including
"The Fishin' Hole"
|Created by||Sheldon Leonard|
|Narrated by||Colin Male (1960-64)|
|Theme music composer||Earle Hagen and Herbert W. Spencer|
|Opening theme||"The Fishin' Hole"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||249|
|Production location(s)||Desilu Culver (1960-67)|
Paramount Studios (1967-68)
|Running time||25-26 minutes|
|Production||Danny Thomas Enterprises|
Paramount Domestic Television
CBS Paramount Domestic Television
CBS Television Distribution
|Picture format||Black-and-white (1960-65) |
|Original release||October 3, 1960- April 1, 1968|
|Followed by||Mayberry R.F.D.|
|Related shows||The Danny Thomas Show|
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
The Andy Griffith Show is an American situation comedy which aired on CBS from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968, with a total of 249 half-hour episodes spanning over eight seasons--159 in black and white and 90 in color. The series partially originated from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show.
The show originally starred Andy Griffith in the role of Andy Taylor, the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. Other major characters include Andy's inept but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts); Andy's spinster aunt and housekeeper, Bee Taylor (Frances Bavier), and Andy's precocious young son, Opie (Ron Howard). Eccentric townspeople and temperamental girlfriends complete the cast.
Regarding the tone of the show, Griffith said that despite a contemporary setting, the show evoked nostalgia, saying in a Today Show interview: "Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the '60s, it had a feeling of the '30s. It was, when we were doing it, of a time gone by." The show also avoided unfavorable cultural aspects of this period, such as racism and segregation, by simply avoiding these topics with the all-white cast never encountering such situations. Black actors and actresses were only seen as background characters, and only one (Rockne Tarkington) ever had a speaking role on the show.
The series never placed lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings and ended its final season at number one. On separate occasions, it has been ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best and 13th-best show in American television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its 8-season run, co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards. The series spawned its own spin-off, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964) and a reunion telemovie, Return to Mayberry (1986). After the eighth season, when Andy Griffith became one of the original cast members to leave the show, it was retitled Mayberry, R.F.D., with Ken Berry and Buddy Foster replacing Andy Griffith and Ron Howard in new roles. In the new format, it ran an additional three seasons and 78 episodes, ending in 1971. Reruns of the show are often aired to TV Land, MeTV and SundanceTV, while the complete series is available on DVD. The sitcom has also been made available on streaming video services such as Netflix. An annual festival celebrating the sitcom, Mayberry Days, is held each year in Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina.
Sheldon Leonard, producer of The Danny Thomas Show, and Danny Thomas hired veteran comedy writer Arthur Stander (who had written many of the "Danny Thomas" episodes) to create a pilot show for Andy Griffith, featuring him as justice of the peace and newspaper editor in a small town. At the time, Broadway, film, and radio star Griffith was interested in attempting a television role, and the William Morris Agency told Leonard that Griffith's rural background and previous rustic characterizations were suited to the part. After conferences between Leonard and Griffith in New York, Griffith flew to Los Angeles and filmed the episode. On February 15, 1960, The Danny Thomas Show episode "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" aired. In the episode Griffith played fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina, who arrests Danny Williams (Thomas's character) for running a stop sign. Future players in The Andy Griffith Show, Frances Bavier and Ron Howard, appeared in the episode as townspeople Henrietta Perkins and Opie Taylor (the sheriff's son).General Foods, sponsor of The Danny Thomas Show, had first access to the spin-off and committed to it immediately. On October 3, 1960, at 9:30 pm, The Andy Griffith Show made its debut.
The sitcom's production team included producers Aaron Ruben (1960-65) and Bob Ross (1965-68). First-season writers (many of whom worked in pairs) included Jack Elinson, Charles Stewart, Arthur Stander and Frank Tarloff (as "David Adler"), Benedict Freedman and John Fenton Murray, Leo Solomon and Ben Gershman, and Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum. During season six, Greenbaum and Fritzell left the show and Ruben departed for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a show which he owned in part. Writer Harvey Bullock left after season six. Bob Sweeney directed the first three seasons save the premiere.
Don Knotts, who knew Griffith professionally and had seen The Danny Thomas Show episode, called Griffith during the developmental stages of the show and suggested the Sheriff character needed a deputy. Griffith agreed. Knotts auditioned for the show's creator and executive producer, Sheldon Leonard, and was offered a five-year contract playing Barney Fife.
The show's theme music, "The Fishin' Hole", was composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer, with lyrics written by Everett Sloane, who also guest starred as Jubal Foster in the episode "The Keeper of the Flame" (1962). Whistling in the opening sequence, as well as the closing credits sequence, was performed by Earle Hagen. One of the show's tunes, "The Mayberry March", was reworked a number of times in different tempo, styles and orchestrations as background music.
Initially, Griffith played Taylor as a heavy-handed country bumpkin, grinning from ear to ear and speaking in a hesitant, frantic manner. The style recalled that used in the delivery of his popular monologues such as "What It Was, Was Football". He gradually abandoned the "rustic Taylor" and developed a serious and thoughtful characterization. Producer Aaron Ruben recalled:
He was being that marvelously funny character from No Time for Sergeants, Will Stockdale [a role Griffith played on stage and in film] ... One day he said, "My God, I just realized that I'm the straight man. I'm playing straight to all these kooks around me." He didn't like himself [in first year reruns] ... and in the next season he changed, becoming this Lincolnesque character.
As Griffith stopped portraying some of the sheriff's more unsophisticated character traits and mannerisms, it was impossible for him to create his own problems and troubles in the manner of other central sitcom characters such as Lucy in I Love Lucy or Archie Bunker in All in the Family, whose problems were the result of their temperaments, philosophies and attitudes. Consequently, the characters around Taylor were employed to create the problems and troubles, with rock-solid Taylor stepping in as problem solver, mediator, advisor, disciplinarian and counselor.
The series plot revolves around Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and his life in sleepy, slow-paced fictional Mayberry, North Carolina. Sheriff Taylor's level-headed approach to law enforcement makes him the scourge 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 repeated gaffes of his inept deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts). Barney is Andy's cousin, but that is only mentioned in a few early episodes. Andy socializes with male friends in the Main Street barber shop and dates various ladies until a schoolteacher becomes his steady interest in season three. At home, Andy enjoys fishing trips with his son, Opie (Ronny Howard), and quiet evenings on the front porch with his maiden aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier). 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, at various times, barber Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear - but played by Walter Baldwin in the 1960 episode "Stranger in Town"), service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) and Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), and local drunkard Otis Campbell (Hal Smith). There were two mayors: Mayor Pike, who was more relaxed, and Mayor Stoner, who had a more assertive personality. On the distaff side, townswoman Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Barney's sweetheart Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) and Andy's schoolteacher sweetheart Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut) become semi-regulars. Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) is Andy's girlfriend in the first season, while Peggy McMillan (Joanna Moore) is a nurse who becomes his girlfriend in season 3. Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris) made his first appearance in Episode #94 ("Mountain Wedding"). In the color seasons, County Clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and handyman Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) appear regularly, while Barney's replacement deputy Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns) appears in about half of season six. Unseen characters such as telephone operator Sarah, and Barney's love interest, local diner waitress Juanita Beasley, as mentioned in the first season, are often referenced. The show's announcer for the first five seasons, Colin Male, portrayed a game warden in Episode #140 ("Andy and Helen Have Their Day"). In the series' last few episodes, farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) debuts, and later becomes the lead of the retitled show, Mayberry R.F.D..
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating|
|Intro||1||February 15, 1960||N/A||N/A|
|1||32||October 3, 1960||May 22, 1961||4||27.8|
|2||31||October 2, 1961||May 7, 1962||7||27.0|
|3||32||October 1, 1962||May 6, 1963||6||29.7|
|4||32||September 30, 1963||May 18, 1964||5||29.4|
|5||32||September 21, 1964||May 3, 1965||4||28.3|
|6||30||September 13, 1965||April 11, 1966||6||26.9|
|7||30||September 12, 1966||April 10, 1967||3||27.4|
|8||30||September 11, 1967||April 1, 1968||1||27.6|
The show comprises eight 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 Howard appearing in 209. Only Griffith, Howard, Bavier, Knotts, and Hope Summers appeared in all eight seasons.
Knotts left the show at the end of season five to pursue a career in films (on the show it is told that he takes a job as a detective with the State Police in Raleigh) but returned to make five guest appearances as Barney in seasons six through eight. His last appearance in the final season in a story about a summit meeting with Russian dignitaries "ranked eleventh among single comedy programs most watched in television between 1960 and 1984, with an audience of thirty-three and a half million."
In 1964, daytime reruns began airing. The show was retitled Andy of Mayberry to distinguish the repeat episodes from the new episodes airing in prime time. As of 2018, the show has been seen in syndication for 54 years.
At the end of season four (May 1964), the backdoor pilot "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." aired, and the following September, the spinoff series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. debuted with Jim Nabors in the role of Gomer and Frank Sutton as drill instructor Sergeant Vince Carter.
In the last episodes of the eighth season, as Andy Griffith was preparing to leave, the character Sam Jones, played by Ken Berry, was introduced as the new star, and the series was retitled Mayberry R.F.D.. Most of the cast members continued their original roles, with Bavier becoming Sam's housekeeper. To create a smooth transition, Andy and Helen were married in the first episode with the new title and remained for a few additional episodes before leaving with a move to Raleigh, effectively ending their appearances. After RFD's cancellation in 1971, George Lindsey played Goober for many years on the popular country-variety show Hee Haw.
Goober, Barney and Emmett all made appearances in the series premiere of The New Andy Griffith Show, which starred Griffith as a similar but canonically different character, Mayor Andy Sawyer. All three characters treated Sawyer as if he were Andy Taylor. The series as a whole only lasted ten episodes.
In 1986, the reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry was broadcast with several cast members reprising their original roles. Absent, however, was Frances Bavier. She was living in Siler City, North Carolina, in ill health, and declined to participate. In the TV movie, Aunt Bee is portrayed as deceased (and in fact Bavier did die three years later), with Andy visiting her grave. Also absent were Howard McNear, Paul Hartman, Jack Burns, and the cast members who were featured only in the Mayberry RFD seasons.
In 1993, The Andy Griffith Show had a Reunion Special which featured Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, Jim Nabors, George Lindsey and Jack Dodson.
The Andy Griffith Show consistently placed in the top ten during its run.
A Nielsen study conducted during the show's final season (1967-68) indicated the show ranked number one among blue collar workers followed by The Lucy Show and Gunsmoke. Among white collar workers, the show ranked number three following Saturday Movies and The Dean Martin Show.The Andy Griffith Show is one of only three shows to have its final season be the number one ranked show on television, the other two being I Love Lucy and Seinfeld. In 1998, more than five million people a day watched the show's reruns on 120 stations.
Dell Comics published two The Andy Griffith Show comic books during the show's first run, with art work by Henry Scarpelli. In 2004, copies in near-mint condition were priced in excess of $500 each. The show's enduring popularity has spawned 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 series was made available in grocery stores across America. Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina annually hosts a week-long "Mayberry Days" celebration featuring concerts, parades, and appearances by the show's players.
In 1997, the episode "Opie the Birdman" was ranked No. 24 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. In 2002, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show ninth on its list of the 50 Best Shows of All Time.Bravo ranked Andy Taylor 63rd on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.
The Taylor Home Inn in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, is a bed-and-breakfast modeled after the Taylor Home.
The Mayberry Cafe in Danville, Indiana, features Aunt Bee's Fried Chicken and a replica of Andy's Ford Galaxie police car.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show #15 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time.
In the late 1980s, Premier Promotions released various episodes on VHS. Most tapes had either two or four episodes. In the early to mid-1990s, United American Video released VHS tapes of various episodes. They either had two or three episodes. These compilations were culled from episodes early in the show's run that had lapsed into the public domain; these episodes continue to be circulated on unofficial video releases.
Between 2004 and 2006, Paramount Home Entertainment and later in 2006, CBS Home Entertainment released all eight seasons as single-season packages on Region 1 DVD. The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series was first released as a 40-disc boxed set in 2007. In addition to all 249 episodes of the series, its bonus features included the episode "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" from The Danny Thomas Show which served as the pilot, the episode "Opie Joins the Marines" from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. which featured Ron Howard and the 95-minute, made-for-television comedy film Return to Mayberry. In 2016, The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series was repackaged and released again as a 39-disc set that featured all 249 episodes of the series but did not include the bonus feature disc.
Sixteen episodes from the season three, which lapsed into the public domain after CBS neglected to file copyright renewals on the episodes in 1989, are available on discount DVDs. The 2007 lawsuit CBS Operations Inc v. Reel Funds International Inc. ruled that the episodes in question were derivative works based on the copyrighted episodes even though the episodes themselves were not under copyright and granted CBS indirect copyright over the public domain episodes; the ruling enjoined Reel Funds International, a public domain distributor, from selling DVDs with those episodes within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Date|
|The First Season||32||November 16, 2004|
|The Second Season||31||May 24, 2005|
|The Third Season||32||August 16, 2005|
|The Fourth Season||32||November 22, 2005|
|The Fifth Season||32||February 14, 2006|
|The Sixth Season||30||May 9, 2006|
|The Seventh Season||30||August 29, 2006|
|The Final Season||30||December 12, 2006|
|The Complete Series||249||May 29, 2007|
|The Complete Series||249||February 16, 2016|
Note: The Region 1 release of The Third Season contains two episodes edited for syndication: "The Darlings Are Coming", which had several scenes cut, and "Barney Mends a Broken Heart", which had its epilogue cut.