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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Andy Griffith Show - Complete First Season

The Andy Griffith Show – Season One


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: D     Show: B-



Sometimes a hit TV show is so far past being a classic that it is easy to forget why it was a hit in the first place.  The Andy Griffith Show debuted in 1960, coming from The Danny Thomas show, became a big hit, would be one of the first big hit shows to have a huge spin-off (Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) and be continued in a later incarnation without its lead star (Mayberry, R.F.D.) when Griffith felt the show went on long enough.  No one had seen that kind of longetivity before in a show, but the reason the show was such a hit is because it took a step forward into a relative direction of naturalism the situation comedy never had happen to it before.


If you think about it, it is an innovation that a sitcom would be out in a small town without the restrictions of the city or only a few rooms.  Only Westerns had that going for it, but then the show was the modern, soft side of that genre to some extent, while still being a show with family appeal more like the sitcoms of the 1950s.  At the same time, it felt like the natural progression of the sitcom and Andy Griffith was natural in front of the camera.  Adding Don Knotts, one of the best comic actors of his generation, and Ron Howard as young Ronny Howard brought on excellent chemistry.  Howard was breaking the mold of past child stars without knowing it, not seeming like he was talking his likes at the actors.  No wonder this became a legendary hit.


Of course, we cannot forget Frances Bavier as mother figure Aunt Bee, complete with superior cooking skills.  Andy Taylor (Griffith) is an unexpected widower who is suddenly a single parent to son Opie (Howard).  That this was not a regular family to begin with shows that television had already begun to play out the “regular family” formula, though this would hardly be anything shocking or subversive.  The episodes here over 4 DVDs include:


1)     The New Housekeeper

2)     The Manhunt

3)     Guitar Player (James Best stars in the title role)

4)     Ellie Comes To Town (with Elinor Donahue)

5)     Irresistible Lady

6)     Runaway Kid

7)     Andy The Matchmaker

8)     Opie’s Charity

9)     A Feud Is A Feud

10)  Ellie For Council

11)  Christmas Story

12)  Stranger In Town

13)  Mayberry Goes Hollywood

14)  The Horse Trader

15)  Those Gossipin’ Men

16)  The Beauty Contest

17)  Alcohol & Old Lace

18)  Andy, the Marriage Counselor

19)  Mayberry On Record

20)  Andy Saves Barney’s Morale

21)  Andy & The Gentleman Crook

22)  Cyrano Andy

23)  Andy & Opie, Housekeepers

24)  The New Doctor

25)  A Plaque For Mayberry

26)  The Inspector

27)  Ellie Saves A Female

28)  Andy Forecloses

29)  Quiet Sam

30)  Barney Gets His Man

31)  The Guitar Player Returns

32)  Bringing Up Opie


The full frame monochrome image is somewhat varied throughout, with the earliest shows looking a bit softer than the later shows.  It looks like the show was generally shot on 35mm film, but some of it looks almost like 16mm in the early episodes, yet that could just be the age of the materials used.  The stocks involved could also be a factor.  This is not as crisp and clear as The Honeymooners set Paramount issued of the 39 original filmed shows, which were shot five years prior to this, while some shows have artifacts on end credits or out of nowhere.  Sid Hickox, A.S.C., was this season’s main cinematographer.  Otherwise, there are still plenty of moments of fidelity and sharpness that are impressive.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono feels small throughout and though the series had simple soundtracks, this is still too low sounding for its own good.  There are no extras, but fans will enjoy having the whole season in a nice box with slender cases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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