The Colorful Friends of Mayberry

When I was a kid, I didn’t much care for the color episodes that made up the last three seasons of The Andy Griffith Show. These shows just never seemed as good to me to me as the earlier black and white episodes. As I got into my teens, I realized that what really bothered about these episodes is that the supporting characters that had been introduced during the show’s initial seasons, like Floyd, Gomer and especially Barney, were absent.

Those characters had been Andy Taylor’s best friends, the ones around whom many hilarious plots had revolved, and Mayberry didn’t seem the same without them. Also, at the time, the supporting characters that were meant to replace them, like Howard, Goober and Emmett, just didn’t seem to measure up.

I’m now in my early forties, and while I still prefer the black and white episodes, I have learned to love the color episodes and judge them on their own merits.  I now even like the supporting characters who were introduced during the final seasons.

In learning to appreciate the color episodes, there is a lesson to be learned. As we go through life, we should expect new opportunities and challenges to bring all sorts of people in and out of our lives. When this happens, we should be open to the chance to make new friends. Indeed, we owe it to ourselves to be ready to extend a hand or a smile to a stranger and say, “Welcome! Nice to have you with us!” You never know. The new person you encounter today might just end up being one of your most cherished friends years from now.

When we first meet new people, we can never tell how they will come to affect our lives. There was something else about the later shows that was initially off-putting to me, but which I have since come to understand and accept. In the final seasons of the show, the tone and feel of the character of Andy Taylor wasn’t as easy-going as it had been in the earlier on. Having read about Griffith’s friendships with some of his original supporting cast, and recognizing the fact that they started out on the show together, I realize that his approach to playing Andy Taylor, and how he related to the new supporting characters, had to be different. It was only logical. After all, how we act around friends we have known since childhood can differ greatly from the way we act around friends we have known for a relatively short amount of time. Just as the introduction of new supporting cast members allowed viewers to see a different side of Andy Taylor, new friends can help us discover new things about ourselves.

The last great thing about the color episodes is that they remind us that even when fate takes people out of our lives, like it did when Barney left after the fifth season, it doesn’t mean they are out of our minds or our hearts. I always thought the friendship that Andy Griffith and Don Knotts shared was a great one, both on screen and off, and it really shined when Barney came back for his guest appearances. We should always be open to meeting new people, but ever ready to greet old friends and make new memories with them as we recall our old times together.

As Grandma Pyle said, “Make new friends and keep the old. One’s silver and one’s gold!”

Comments

  1. Linda says:

    I was not overly fond of the color episodes either until I tricked my mind by turning off color on my TV when watching them. It is a psychological miracle and I have been able to fool myself and therefore I love them the same because they are indeed black & white in my mind’s eye.

  2. Chuck says:

    At least Barney graced us with his presence in five color episodes. “The Return Of Barney Fife” is, has been, and always will be one of my favorite TAGS episodes.

    The talking dog (color) episode? IMO, it’s the series’ worst.

    • Greg says:

      that was bad–right up there with Helen Crump fighting the principal over the kids’ rock and roll musical and any episode featuring Howard’s mother. simply awful in any hue!

      • Delphine says:

        I agree, an overbearing hateful old bitter woman who never let her “old” son have a life, even when he tried, was not funny it was sad, and frustrating to watch, plus he was a boring character, as was Emmit. Floyd was not funny anymore, Goober was more annoying than funny.

  3. Just an awesome post. I agree that the color episodes weren’t as good as the black and white. I really like the way you’ve conveyed so much emotion about this show in such a short space. Kudos to you. Make it an awesome day!

  4. I like the earlier episodes, better, too. It seems that most series are better in earlier seasons than later ones (with some exceptions — I liked it on Dallas in the later seasons when it seems that JR got his turn at getting his comeuppance. TV series are like real life, though, people die, move away, and changes in our lives cause us to not be around them like we were before– on the same note– new people come into our lives– we make new friends, get new neighbors and co-workers, and new babies are born into our families. Time doesn’t stand still in our real lives, just like it doesn’t in TV series.

  5. Tom says:

    There are very few colored episodes that are good

  6. Scott says:

    Great article! I enjoyed it very much. But I’d like to clarify the comment about Floyd being absent in the color episodes.

    Floyd appeared prominently in the first two color seasons (Seasons 6 & 7). However, Howard McNear, who played Floyd, left after the end of Season 7, as he was too sick to continue, ultimately passing away soon after.

    And I will say one good thing about the color episodes: they fleshed out Goober’s character, making him a little more intelligent (except for the talking dog episode), and better woven into the cast. George Lindsey made that character more lovable and empathetic with each episode.

    And as far as bad episodes go, yes, there are a few clunkers, which would take too long to get into. But I’ll take those over anything on TV these days!

    • Dan Johnson says:

      Hey Scott. You are right about Floyd being in the color episodes. Should have expanded on that more, but I was reaching my word limit. I’m hoping to do some salutes to the residents of Mayberry and Howard McNear is one of the actors who deserves to have his career spotlighted. He was such a talented actor.

  7. David Moore says:

    I’m 53 years old and have watched the show my entire life.
    And I still hate the color episodes.

  8. scott B says:

    The reason ( at least to me) that the color episodes were not as good was due to the writing , the writers atthat time were not the same as from 61-64. And it showed. Womens lib was rearing its head, ( thus Helen was more “forthcoming”) Floyd was getting sicker. Gooberhad moved on to his own show. Opie wasn’t a little boy anymore. Things change. But the show did stay at the top of its ratings regardless.

    • ramblin_rex says:

      I agree. Helen was always angry at Andy for something and Aunt Bee wanted to fly an airplane, own a restaurant, drive a car, run for office, etc. Andy Griffith was clearly tired of doing the show. The show was trying to teach life lessons and adress social issues instead of just being funny.

  9. Teresa says:

    I liked Goober better than Gomer. I think it lost something when Barney left. But it is still good and clean entertainment.

  10. Gloria K. says:

    You say that the color episodes didn’t have Gomer, Floyd or Barney. You are wrong on one count: Floyd absolutely DID appear in several of the color episodes.

  11. Gloria K. says:

    I like your comment about different people coming into our lives and leaving our lives. I don’t think Andy Taylor/Griffith ever got over Barney leaving Mayberry. Unfortunately, he took it out on Warren. In the very first episode that Warren appears you can see that Andy Taylor/Griffith doesn’t like him at all. That was unfair to Jack Burns. The writers didn’t know how to write for Warren. Most of the episodes that Warren was in were not very good. I skip most of them when I’m watching. Jack Burns, to me, was too urban for Mayberry. He didn’t fit into the community. For the life of me I don’t know why they didn’t choose Jerry Van Dyke to play the new deputy. He was an original and extremely funny. He also had something that Andy loved: Jerry Van Dyke could play an instrument. Andy loved to have music in the episodes and Jerry would have been a wonderful addition. Especially when the Darlings came to town. A real opportunity missed. They had Jerry in the palm of their hands and they let him go. Too bad.

    • billy k says:

      jerry van dyke would have been a great replacement for don knotts! great thought, gloria! i am 42 & watch it all the time but don’t care for most of the color episodes either. there are a few good ones but i don’t think there was ever a bad black & white episode!

  12. the Rifleman says:

    The color (later) episodes are not as classic as the earlier ones, but I have grown to love them. The other characters on the show got to have their lives expanded on. The writers did a good job in allowing us to see them in more detail. Howard’s romance with Milly, his trip to the island, Aunt Bea’s romances, her trip (with friends) to Mexico, Goober’s romance with his girlfriend, his buying the filling station, going to Raleigh to meet with an old (and lying friend), as well as Opie’s adventures. His broken date with his would-be sweetheart (that he later meets with at the dance), his getting a black eye from Helen’s niece, Emmitt buying his wife a fur (but not before some troubling doubts from his wife), and his attempt at selling life insurance. The expansion of each character was good, although some episodes were painful (like Howard & Goober not getting dates for Howard’s new “pad”). But all-in-all the color shows were funny and added to the shows legacy…

  13. Delphine says:

    I agree with some of what you say, I am a big MASH fan and even when favorites would leave the new ones became favorites, and the show was always great, but with this show it seemed different. I have watched Andy almost all my life, I know every word every line of every episode, B&W that is, but in the color ones Andy seemed like a completely different person, and not a very likeable one at that, and in the b&w episodes he was always my favorite character. The few color episodes Barney was in, he was more of a sad character than funny, after his stroke Floyd was more annoying than funny, then nearly every episode with opie as a teenager was never funny, Howard and Emmitt had to be two of the most boring people in the world, to me Howards old Mother interfering with his attempts to do anything, thats more sad and frustrating than funny. I know kids have to grow up and people move in and out of our lives and I understand what you are saying but for me it just doesn’t work out that way, I loved Barney, but Andy was always my favorite so it wasn’t just his not being there, it was mainly I think the personality change in Andy and just not really any funny stories left, the only color one I even like just a little is where Andy had to eat three spaghetti dinners in one night. But..of the older shows I am a diehard fan, I have an autistic 16 year old grandson that has just discovered the show and he watches it almost constantly on netflix at night, and I am right there with him, never tire of them.

  14. William Lasley says:

    Great appreciation of the later seasons, Dan! I’ve always liked the color episodes just as much as the black & whites. As you point out, the later shows weren’t really worse, just different. Two of my favorite episodes feature Howard: the one when he has the party in his bachelor pad; and the story of his move to a Caribbean isle. I even like “Mayberry R.F.D.” And I think “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” is a very underrated series.

  15. Don Smith says:

    The simple reason that the color episodes sucked was due to the fact that the writing team changed. The writers who wrote for the show originally left to take over duties on “Gomer Pyle USMC” and the team brought in to replace them were the same two that wrote for such shows as “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Munsters”. They never captured the feel of the show, and couldn’t write for the established characters.

  16. KC says:

    @GloriaK — Jerry Van Dyke was, in fact, originally supposed to fill the void left by the departing Don Knotts. That’s why his character was introduced at the end of Season 5. However, he was offered a chance to star in his own show, “My Mother the Car”, and chose that opportunity instead, and Jack Burns was added as Warren.

    Coincidentally, Burns’ comedy partner, Avery Schriber, went on to co-star in MMtC with Jerry Van Dyke.

    Personally, I like some of the color episodes, others I don’t. In particular, I didn’t care for the way Andy’s character changed to being constantly irritated or angry about one thing or another, as well as the relationship issues between Andy and Helen, points which I believe others alluded to earlier.

  17. KC says:

    My favorite line in the entire series spoken by Andy was, yes, in a color episode. This is in the dining car of the train Andy, Helen, Howard and Millie were taking to the latter two’s wedding:

    Howard: You know what I like about fish is it combines a high nutritional value with flavor at a modest price.

    Andy: Can’t ask much more out of a fish than that, can you?

  18. Gloria K. says:

    I thought Emmett and Howard were very funny. I especially liked the episode where Emmett and Helen danced at Howard’s refurnished house. I never cared for the character of Goober. He was just TOO stupid. Gomer, I liked. The episodes that I can’t even watch are: the one where the young couple want to get married but their parents are feuding, the one where Helen’s students put on a variety show and the haunted mansion one. The dumbest episodes for me were: Helen writing a book, Helen going out with a mob guy so she could write her thesis, Aunt Bee flying a plane. Personally, I find the character of Helen very grating. The writers didn’t know how to write for her. Same with Warren. He was probably the worst character in the series. They should have made Jerry Van Dyke the new deputy. That was a real opportunity lost.

  19. Dean & Sheilagh says:

    The reason we think the earlier episodes are better is because of the writers. They created dialog that is so funny and memorable that we want to watch them and quote them over & over. There were also many more cute scenes and dialog when Opie was younger. (Poor Horatio.) The later (in color) episodes are OK, just not up to the same caliber of writing as the earlier ones. Have a hard time with the Warren character. Barny was funny, but Warren was just annoying. The writers tried to give him “Barny” lines & it just didn’t work.

  20. Cindy says:

    I, too was never quite a fan of the color series, but after reading YOUR reasons, finally made me realize why. It’s because of the newer characters that were introduced, and the fact that, for the most part, Barney was gone. BUT… it still was ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, and despite the loss of some of the original characters, Andy was still with us! I admit, Howard was my biggest annoyance, he was a structured, numbers nerd, with an annoying, pushy mama, who was a mama’s boy. I really wanted to see his character evolve into the man he should have been, showing all of us fans that you can crawl out of your mother’s tight hold to live your own life at 40+ years old!! But the storyline was set in the 60′s, and those things were not challenged much. But there will NEVER be another Andy Griffith Show, unfortunately. :(
    That series had a lot of life lessons to be told. It was a family oriented, comedic/serious forum to show us what life was like in a simpler era of time. This is what draws us fans to that show. Reruns on TV are constantly being shown. That’s speaks volumes for a single TV show that captured our hearts from 47+ years ago!! If Hollywood could just get it right all over again and bring us more ‘Mayberry’ TV, we’d all be in a happier place!

  21. Mitch says:

    A nice, feel-good article, which is in itself, sort of mayberryesque. But it couldn’t convert me. I still maintain that the best show in the history of TV was the first five years of AGS; and the worst show was the last 3 seasons of AGS, morphing then into Mayberry RFD.

    My favorite line from the show, btw, came from Barney. “Boy, giraffes are selfish.”

  22. Dennis says:

    I liked some of the color episodes even though the story lines were a bit lame. I didn’t mind Warren or Howard but Emmett was not very entertaining and Floyd should’ve retired after his stroke. Some of the Warren episodes were actually written for Barney but they had to rewrite them after Knotts left the show. I loved Jerry Van Dyke on Coach and his two guest appearances on the DVD show, but not sure if he would’ve fit in Mayberry. Howard was better used as the series went on but was not developed as much as he should have been. Also, the writing became too predictable in the last few years.

    Four of the color episodes are unwatchable for me: Warren’s sleepwalking, the talking dog, Aunt Bee’s blonde wig and Opie Finds a baby. Also, I think the writer’s overdid it when they made Thelma Lou act like it was nothing to bring here new husband to the reunion.

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