Brian lent me his complete set of The Andy Griffith Show and I watched the 1st season. The season started Oct 3 1960 and ran through May 22 1961. There were 32 episodes which I'm betting we watched as a family when they were first broadcast. I would have watched them again in syndication. Sadly I don't remember anything specific about the episodes, at least not so far. Since The Andy Griffith Show has been on tv continuously since it first aired I can't imagine hardly anyone hasn't at least heard of it. I got to thinking about the show after Andy Griffith died last year but the complete set is about a hundred bucks on Amazon. That's a hesitatin' price point, that is. Brian lucked out and got his for just over $30 on one of Amazon's super discounts. He showed them to his 6 year old daughter and now I'm chain-watching them.
The show got it's start as a back door pilot on The Danny Thomas Show. Danny gets caught going through a stop sign and Andy brings him to the court house to pay the fine. Danny shoots his mouth off, acting the big city slick, laughing at the hillbilly hicks. Andy jacks the fine up for Danny's attitude. Danny won't pay the fine. He goes to jail and we spend a while in Mayberry. Eventually Andy wins Danny over with his good nature. Ron Howard appears in the pilot at Andy's son. Francis Bavier appears as another character. Don Knotts wouldn't appear until the first episode of the series. Luckily for me the pilot from The Danny Thomas Show is included with the first season. I remember watching a lot of The Danny Thomas Show, especially when it was in reruns, but I'm not very interested in watching those now. I'm just not a big Danny Thomas fan.
The first show of the season introduces us to Andy and his son Opie, deputy Barney and the newly arrived Aunt Bee. Andy's housekeeper got married and moved out. Elinor Donahue arrives in town to take over the drug store. She's Andy's first girlfriend. She leaves at the end of the season. We meet Otis the town drunk. Him and Andy have an understanding. When he's drunk Otis arrests himself and locks himself in his cell for the night. The Mayberry jail cells are real nice. Nearly as nice as the cells in the jail in the Freddy The Pig books. When Otis sobers up he goes on home. He cleans up pretty well when his relative turns out to be a war hero. There's moon shining old ladies who make the hooch in the back room of their flower shop. They rat out the competition on moral gorunds. Them are some fucked up old ladies. Some criminals come by but they get caught as soon as they get into Andy's town. He's pretty popular there, everyone likes him, even some of the criminals. Andy and Barney even get cards and letters from some of the men they sent to prison.
There are plenty of jokes and fun stories. I laughed a lot, more than I thought I might. I even liked the sentimental bits and the moral tales and life lessons are good ones. I didn't find it preachy. Occasionally it was cute. The show was popular. It was the 4th most popular show during it's first season. Everyone I knew watched it. Not that there was much else to watch anyway. I think we only had three channels in 1960 Winnipeg. At least in English, there was a French channel which I didn't watch. One of the three was a US station that broadcast out of Pembina North Dakota. They sold advertising to Winnipeg firms until the government put a stop to that. They started about the time The Andy Griffith Show started and lasted nearly twice as long.
I'm going to check out some more of the series which ended after the 8th season. There was a made for tv movie in 1986 called Return To Mayberry. Andy returns to his hometown after leaving 15 years earlier. That would have been at the start of the short lived Mayberry RFD with Ken Barry. It only lasted a year and then it was cancelled. In Return To Mayberry Barney is running for sheriff and Opie is the newspaper editor. The movie is included in the 1st season set but sadly it's just not very good. Andy was going to run for sheriff but finds Barney is running. He doesn't want to take the job from his old pal. He should, Barney is even more bumbling than he used to be. That was my big complaint with the Barney Fife character as the series progressed. He got more and more crazy and bumbling. The movie has a pretty dumb subplot about a crooked developer, and a monster in a lake, that wouldn't have fooled the Scooby gang for a minute. Things work out in the end but it doesn't capture the feeling of the old show.