This Sunday, October 3, marks the 50th anniversary of an American classic: The Andy Griffith Show. To celebrate, we asked Blair author Dr. Richard Kelly to share his thoughts on this occasion. He wrote the book on Andy Griffith (literally), so if you like what he has to say, check out his book The Andy Griffith Show. Chock full of interviews, episode summaries, and even an unfilmed script, this book is filled with more Andy Griffith trivia than you’ll ever need to know.
It is hard to believe that half a century has passed since Aunt Bee moved in as the new housekeeper for Andy Taylor and his son Opie. It took several years for the town of Mayberry to develop its wealth of other characters: Barney Fife, Thelma Lou, Helen Crump, Ellie the druggist, Floyd the barber, Gomer and Goober, the Darlings, Ernest T. Bass, mayors Stoner and Pike, and many other memorable folk. It is enjoyable now just to recite the litany of their names, for each one calls up sweet memories of that undying town. Even the swindlers, con men, and thieves who occasionally entered Mayberry enhanced its comic dimension through Barney’s fumbling attempts to restore order and justice. It was always Sheriff Taylor, however, who remained the rock-solid center of that town, a small world that constantly seemed to edge into chaos until Andy restored calm and good sense. Yes, Mayberry was becoming the nation’s favorite small town and it has held its ranking to this day.
One would be hard pressed to name another television series that has held up for so many years, which is a testimony to the actors, producers, and directors that came up with 249 episodes. Writers like Harvey Bullock, Everett Greenbaum, and several others deserve special mention: These faceless authors wrote out the words that largely created and shaped the town of Mayberry and its immortal characters.
So now, in 2010, Mayberry retains its crystal-clear image of small-town America, one that holds a reality in our imaginations as powerful and illusory as any great magician could possibly conjure.