Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 20th, 2010
Who doesn’t have a soft spot in their heart, if not their DVD collection, for The Andy Griffith Show? The denizens of Mayberry have been with many of us our entire lives. For most of America, The Andy Griffith Show has become the template for any small rural town. The characters stand as prerequisite citizens in any said town. The town drunk, the local barber, the motherly little old lady, and the corner mechanic all look like Otis, Floyd, Aunt Bee, and Goober to most of us now. Griffith himself brought fine qualities to his role of Sheriff Andy Taylor, but it was Don Knotts as the incompetent but lovable deputy Barney Fife who stole the show. And who was that sweet little boy? He grew up to be a first class filmmaker with plenty of Oscars on the shelf. No question that The Andy Griffith Show started something back in 1960.
Sheriff Taylor (Griffith) is a widower with a young son, Opie (Howard). His extended family includes lovable doting Aunt Bee (Bavier). His deputy, Barney (Knotts) appears to be a few trout short of a stocked creek. They live in the small southern town of Mayberry.
Again, the age of the piece is undeniable in this full-frame presentation. We’re also talking black and white. Contrast is remarkable when you consider the age of the episodes and the equipment originally used to film them. There’s plenty of film speck to complain about if you’re picky. Some episodes show a great more wear than others. A couple seem to have blur spots that I can’t account for. Again, I venture to guess the show never looked better.
The 17 All Time Favorite Episodes on the set:
The Christmas Story: Andy is faced with a dilemma when he’s forced to lock up old Jim Muggins for moonshining. It’s Christmas Eve, and Jim’s got the party spirits.
The Pickle Story: Aunt Bee makes the worst pickles known to man, so when she sets to making a ton of them for Andy, he finds a way to get out of eating them … only the plan goes horribly wrong somehow.
Barney And The Choir: No one wants to tell Barney that he just can’t sing a lick. So they trick him into believing it’s his voice coming out of his dead microphone while it’s actually another singer.
Mr. McBeevee: It appears that Opie has a new imaginary friend that he blames for everything. But is this really his imagination?
Convicts At Large: Barney and Floyd aren’t catching anything on their fishing trip. They do, however, get caught by three female escaped prisoners.
Man In A Hurry: A broken fuel line sticks Malcolm Tucker in Mayberry for a spell. It’s Gomer Pyle’s first episode as the new mechanic at Wally’s. He’s got to fix up Tucker’s car so he can make an important business meeting the next day. Of course, getting anyone to work in Mayberry on a Sunday is going to take a miracle.
Class Reunion: Andy goes to his high school reunion and meets up with his old sweetheart.
The Darlings Are Coming: The Darlings are a real mountain family who cause a bit of a stir when they decide to pay a visit on Mayberry.
Barney’s First Car: Barney is taken for a ride when he pays $300 for a clunker. Unfortunately, it’s the crook who takes him for that ride, because this car ain’t going anywhere.
Dogs Dogs Dogs: In this episode the courthouse literally goes to the dogs.
Mountain Wedding: Ernest Bass has decided he wants to marry the Darlings’ daughter and won’t take no for an answer. It’s up to Andy to set him straight.
Opie The Birdsman: Opie learns a valuable lesson when he kills a mother bird with his slingshot. He has to raise the babies and eventually set them free.
The Sermon For The Day: When a traveling preacher gives Mayberry a sermon on relaxation, it’s going to just tucker everyone out trying to live up to the standard.
Citizen’s Arrest: To get out of a ticket, Gomer calls out Barney for an illegal act. Of course, Barney takes the whole thing too seriously and incarcerates himself, resigning his position in shame.
Fun Girls: Barney and Andy offer a lift to a couple of party girls, only their own girls witness them driving away with them.
Barney’s Sidecar: Barney buys a motorcycle at a police auction and soon becomes the terror of Mayberry
Goober And The Art Of Love: The boys are trying to get a date for Goober.
You just can’t expect anything more from a 1960’s sit-com than the decent Dolby Digital mono track provided. Great care and effort is evident in this modest presentation. There’s some hiss. Some of the higher ranges are distorted at times. Still … for its age this is a pretty clear and enjoyable soundtrack. Dialog is always audible. I was too young to catch this stuff when it originally aired, but I’ll bet it never sounded this good over rabbit ears and 2-inch TV speakers.
Return To Mayberry Reunion Film: When the Taylor’s return to Mayberry after 20 years, the folks want Andy back as Sheriff. But it’s Barney he’d have to run against.
Danny Meets Andy Griffith: Danny Thomas has a run in with Sheriff Taylor while on a trip with the family in this Make Room For Daddy episode that launched The Andy Griffith Show.
As much as I believe we all have that soft spot for the show, these DVD’s are certainly not for everyone. We’re used to a higher standard of video and audio today from even the lowest budgets. While I certainly love the technological advances in the media, a part of me is sad that many will pass such classics by because of the quality of the presentation. This set is not for you if a faded black and white image distracts from your enjoyment. This set is not for you if you require constant action and swift pace from your entertainment. This set is not for you if a sit-com’s quality is measured by the amount of sexual innuendo or potty humor. This set is not for you if you get angry when a show ends on a moral. If you’re just happy to have great entertainment from a simpler time, then you should pick up this set and just “sit a spell”.