Judge Cynthia Boris once left a pie on her window sill. It was on that day that she learned rats like pie.
Our reviews of The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete First Season (published December 1st, 2004), The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Second Season (published June 8th, 2005), The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Fourth Season (published February 15th, 2006), The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Fifth Season (published May 17th, 2006), The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Sixth Season (published November 17th, 2006), and The Andy Griffith Show 50th Anniversary: The Best Of Mayberry (published December 21st, 2010) are also available.
"I wouldn't lie to you about Jello Chocolate Puddin'. Try Jello Puddin' and Pie Fillin', the creamy, easy answer to what's for dessert. Goooooood. I appreciate it, and goodnight."
-- Andy Griffith hawking the sponsor's product
Mayberry. Over the years, it has become a symbol of America. A place where apple pies are always cooling on the windowsill. Where a date means skipping stones across Old Man Johnson's Lake and the purchase of a new car is wildly celebrated by everyone in town. And though I've never lived in a place like this, I'm told that Mayberry (in the symbolic sense) exists or did exist at one time. I wouldn't know. I live in Orange County, California, where none of the above applies. Sometimes I wish it did; maybe that's why I really enjoyed watching The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Third Season. [Editor's note: Mayberry did, and still does, exist, though its actual name is Mount Airy, North Carolina. I lived there as a child, just before I moved southwest a piece to Mount Pilot. The Andy Griffith Show doesn't exaggerate, at least not much.]
Facts of the Case
It's the third time out for this charming sixties sitcom about a widower sheriff named Andy (Andy Griffith) raising his son, Opie (Ronny Howard, Happy Days) in a community of slightly eccentric characters. Andy and Opie live with Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), a capable woman who does the cooking, the cleaning, and the fretting for the family. Meanwhile, Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts, Three's Company) is played for straight-out comedic relief. Set in the semi-fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, Andy Griffith is the original show about nothing—and boy, is nothing ever funny!
The third season of this award-winning comedy introduces several new characters that were to become staples of the series: love interest Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut, The Blob), The Darling Family (headed up by Denver Pyle, The Dukes of Hazzard), the nutty Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris), and breakout star Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle. (No relation to Denver Pyle!)
This boxed set includes all 32 uncut, half-hour episodes:
Is there anyone out there who doesn't know The Andy Griffith Show? Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, Barney? Floyd, Gomer, Thelma Lou, Goober, Ernest T. and Otis the drunk? (Come on, just the fact that the town drunk is a leading character rules!) People can identify this show by just the mention of any three characters. It always makes those lists of top ten characters on TV, and that's because The Andy Griffith Show is all about character. It is about people and the little things that make up an ordinary life. It's not about being stranded on a desert island or being chased by ghosts. No one is having sex and you won't see a dead body or handsome CSI tech anywhere around. Instead, The Andy Griffith Show is about blue-ribbon-winning pickles and dynamite-eating goats. It's about friends and neighbors, respect and morals—and as lame as that may seem on the surface, it's actually a breath of fresh mountain air.
If you've never seen The Andy Griffith Show, this third season DVD set is a good place to start. The actors have settled comfortably into their roles, the guest stars are plentiful, and the writing is top notch. Though you will find plenty of broad, near-slapstick comedy (due mostly to the hysterically funny antics of Don Knotts), you'll also find a subtle sense of humor lying underneath. This comes from what I call "Andy as the ringmaster." Though Andy Griffith is the star of the show, his role is actually quite passive. He's the audience point of view; the one grounded human in a world that's slightly off kilter. He's the straight man to six different comedians—and he's the reason they all look good.
When you watch Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show you forget that he's acting; that is the most amazing thing in the world to me. He's so natural and so genuine that it's hard to imagine him as anything but Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie's father and Barney's friend. His seamless performance makes the show a timeless classic.
Paramount gets kudos for its lovely presentation. The episodes look sharp and clean. There's a little grain and dust here and there, but overall the presentation is very nice. The packaging befits the show: a cardboard slipcase with three plastic snapcases inside, with great use of photography and a fun "Wally's Garage" theme that carries through on to the discs themselves
Best of all is the inclusion of the original sponsor spots. You'll see Andy and the gang hawking pudding, cereal, and gooooood coffee. Completely in character and set up like mini-episodes, these sponsor spots make me wonder why this practice was abandoned. Come on, can't you see C.S.I's Gil Grissom pushing Corn Flakes? Tony Soprano hawking Shout (for those tough to remove blood stains). And wouldn't you love to see the cast of Lost discussing the merits of Travelocity? Might even keep people from leaving the room when the commercials come on!
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There's not much to complain about here, just nitpicks. One—the episode descriptions are under the discs, which is slightly annoying, but at least they're good descriptions and not just one-liners. Second—the previews!! Ack! Okay, I enjoy seeing the trailers for all the other great Paramount TV shows, just not so many, and not every time I put a disc in. Come on Paramount. One of the reasons I buy a show on DVD is so that I can avoid commercials. Help me out here and let me decide if I want to watch your previews or not. Don't force-feed me.
The Andy Griffith Show has a timeless innocence that just isn't seen anywhere on television today. Its wholesome humor is as funny now as it was then, and the down-home flavor (and accents) mark it as pure Americana. All of the actors are underrated in their field; many of them created roles that defined their careers (Aunt Bee, Floyd the Barber, Gomer Pyle). And even with a huge list of credits under his belt, Don Knotts will always be known as Barney Fife. There aren't many shows out there that can boast so many memorable characters, nor many shows that "raised" an Oscar winning director (Ron Howard). And we're right back where we began—with characters. The plots are ordinary. The setting is mundane. But spend a little time in Mayberry and you won't soon forget the people that you met there.
This court declares The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Third Season about as innocent as you can get.
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Scales of Justice
• Original sponsor spots
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