Paramount // 1964 // 811 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 15th, 2006
(insert genial, fishing hole whistling theme here)
Welcome to the little town of Mayberry where Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) keeps the peace while negotiating his day-to-day run-ins with the town's friendly, often amusing local residents. Andy balances his authoritative duties while raising his young, sometimes mischievous redheaded son, Opie (Ron Howard, director of such films as Backdraft and A Beautiful Mind) with the help of the kindly Aunt Bee (Francis Bavier). Andy's deputy, Barney Fife (the irreplaceable Don Knotts, The Private Eyes), messes up more often than not while gas-station attendant Gomer (Jim Nabors) and his dim-bulb cousin Goober (George Lindsey) goof off around the town. It isn't complicated, it isn't controversial...it's Mayberry U.S.A.
Included on this disc are the following episodes:
* Opie The Birdman
* The Haunted House
* Ernest T. Bass Joins The Army
* The sermon For Today
* Brisco Declares For Aunt Bee
* Gomer The House Guest
* A Black Day For Mayberry
* Opie's Ill-Gotten Gain
* A Date For Gomer
* Up In Barney's Room
* Citizen's Arrest
* Opie And His Merry Men
* Barney And The Cave Rescue
* Andy And Opie's Pal
* Aunt Bee The Crusader
* Barney's Sidecar
* My Fair Ernest T. Bass
* Prisoner Of Love
* Hot Rod Otis
* The Song Festers
* The Shoplifters
* Andy's Vacation
* Andy Saves Gomer
* Divorce -- Mountain Style
* A Deal Is A Deal
* Fun Girls
* The Return Of Malcolm Merriweather
* The Rumor
* Barney and Thelma Low Phfftt
* Back To Nature
* Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
There is such a richly down home, warm as apple pie feeling to The Andy Griffith Show that it's almost impossible to say anything bad about it. The show is beloved by millions of fans (albeit most of them collecting social security) and still plays around the clock on cable television. The show and its stars -- including the show's namesake, Don Knotts, and Ron Howard -- are nearly American institutions.
It's funny; as I watched episodes from this fourth season of The Andy Griffith Show I was shocked at how innocent it was. In one scene Barney becomes drunk on "cider that has turned hard," and Andy's reaction is equivalent to my grandmother being raped by the Hell's Angels biker gang. When this is the worst moment of your day, life is pretty leisurely. When you compare something like The Andy Griffith Show to present comedies (e.g., Friends and Will & Grace), it's like seeing a before and after picture of Kirstie Alley -- you can't believe they exist in the same century.
When I was a kid I used to head to southern Indiana to visit my grandparents. They lived in a town (Pekin, population 53 including cats and dogs) that was very much like Mayberry in its heyday; the people were simple folk with what seemed to be simple problems living in simple houses with simple jobs and simple social lives. Did I mention that it all seemed very...simple? I got that exact same feeling as I watched this show -- it was just very darned easy to sit through.
I won't pretend to be an The Andy Griffith Show aficionado. The fact is that I'd seen a few episodes years (maybe decades) ago, but never had a stake in the show. It is something that always played better in my mind than on the small screen. My summation after watching this fourth season is that while the show is good, it's a bit bland. Then again, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that is part of its charm -- there is nothing here to offend, only small town humor with likable characters caught in light, fluffy situations. The episodes are never overly complex and usually involve things like Opie telling a little fib (and getting caught in it), Barney misunderstanding someone's good intentions, or an argument over a traffic ticket by two of the secondary characters. There are no deep, probing issues -- Mayberry is a world where concerns over homosexuality, abortion, drugs, or major criminal offenses are blatantly absent.
By now the characters in the show are as familiar as your family and friends. Andy Griffith does a noble job as the town's straight-as-an-arrow sheriff, and Don Knotts takes his shtick further and better than it ought to be as Barney Fife. Francis Bavier as the doting Aunt Bee, Jim Nabors as the nerdy Gomer, and even Gomer's left-of-center cousin Goober (George Lindsey) all show up and do their jobs accordingly, which is to cause only minor headaches for Andy Taylor. Sadly, Floyd the Barber sat this season out due to actor Howard McNear's near fatal stroke during the third season (a year later he would return to the show, shown usually in close-ups or sitting on a bench to hide his medical condition, and passed on a year after the show ended).
There is a richness to The Andy Griffith Show that shines through in each episode. The series success was based on a simple formula: relatable characters, simplistic problems, and easy solutions. It may seem clichéd and even sentimental by today's standards, yet The Andy Griffith Show truly was family entertainment that never pandered to the audience, and always left with a smile on its (and the audience's) face.
Each episode of The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Fourth Season is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame in black and white. The images on this set are good, but not great -- age dictates that while Paramount has done a good job of cleaning up the show, it still retains a very worn feel. Then again, maybe that lends itself to the nostalgic feel of the show.
The soundtrack on each episode is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. There isn't a whole lot to say about these sound mixes -- they are very front heavy and feature canned voices, sound effects, and music. Hiss and distortion is generally kept to a minimum. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this set.
As with most TV shows, by the time the studio is releasing the fourth season it's slim pickings when it comes to extra features. The Andy Griffith Show is no different -- in fact, when it comes to supplements "nada" is the word of the day.
Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 811 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated