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!”