Arts & Entertainment

Andy, Opie, Barney, and Me

Above photo: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Ronny Howard ~ 

I have been in a unique relationship for the past eighteen months: A fivesome — well, no; actually, a sixsome!

Saturday morning starts slowly at my house. Virgil, my big tuxedo cat, meows for breakfast while my smaller cat, Aeschylus, follows in tow to get his portion.

I open the computer to work. My husband comes into the room to begin our once-a-week lazy ritual: Watching The Andy Griffith Show, the 1960s sitcom about life in the small town of Mayberry, NC.

When my husband first introduced this ritual, I balked. I didn’t want to watch something so silly and old-fashioned. I didn’t even watch the show when I was a little girl. But now,  as an adult, I have succumbed to its quaint charm.

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Andy Griffith, Ronny Howard, Francis Bavier

I find the characters quirky and fun. Sheriff Andy Taylor — played by Andy Griffith, with his country sensibility — is old-fashioned, yes, but that’s OK. Barney — portrayed with comic genius by Don Knotts — is hilarious with his bulging eyes and rubber body. Opie — little Ronny Howard — is so adorable. And Aunt Bea, played by Francis Bavier — I love her quiet wisdom and patience!

The show explores innocent situations with humor and grace. There’s the episode wherein Aunt Bea wants to play the lead in the town play, but realizes she doesn’t have the experience to

play the complicated character and offers it to a more qualified actress. I love the episode wherein Danny Thomas gets a speeding ticket. He refuses to pay and gets thrown in jail. Thomas’s comedic timing is brilliant and always makes me laugh.

Not all episodes are fun. In one memorable episode, Opie joins a secret club with kids playing with matches, forcing Andy to question his son’s honesty. Not an easy thing to do for any parent. But Andy figures out how to solve the case and preserve their relationship.

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Andy Griffith supporting cast members

The supporting cast members are top-notch. The Dillard’s, a professional bluegrass band, play members of the Darlings family and make wonderful music.

As Otis, the town drunk, Hal Smith makes the decorated jail cell his home each night he is hungover. He is the most lovable drunk on TV. And Jim Nabors got his start on the show, which led to the spinoff of Gomer Pyle, USMC.

The lack of diversity bugs me, as does the absence of any authentic romantic scenes. I mean, come on — Barney and Thelma Lou were always together, and they didn’t even do much kissing!

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Don Knotts and Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou

It was truly a different time on television back then. But despite the simplicity of the plots, each episode contained messages of treating people with kindness, compassion, understanding, honesty, and humor. So, my hesitancy has turned into a habit — a respite from the news and the outside world. I must admit, I have become an Andy Griffith Show groupie.


Heidi Frankel

Heidi Frankel began her career in sales and marketing in Los Angeles. Upon moving to Dallas, she has worked in both television and radio as a creator, producer, writer, reporter, and co-host. Throughout the course of her career, she has interviewed such celebrities as former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman, pop-culture icon Stan Lee, astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Hayes, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and former President George W. Bush when he was Texas Governor. Heidi lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband. They have one son. She enjoys gardening, exercise, spending time with her sweet cats, Virgil and Aeschylus.

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