Friday, February 15, 2008

Television: The Andy Griffith Show

One year after “The Twilight Zone” hit the airwaves, an entirely different program appeared on the same network. “The Andy Griffith Show” was a comedy, and not interested in asking the same metaphysical questions. It mostly just wanted to make people laugh. However, it did stake its claim in the area of ethics.
The Andy Griffith Show does not really reflect a “simpler time” but rather a simple outlook on things. Most shows involve ethical dilemmas. Some go the sentimental route with Opie or Aunt Bee; others take a more slapstick look at Barney or Gomer. It is easy to loose sight of the fact that this show aired and was set in the 60’s. By comparison, think about Ron Howard’s other series: “Happy Days.” It was supposed to address the 50’s, even if it did have a more seventies take on things.
The list of masterpieces in the black and white period of the show alone is too long to list here, but perhaps the best episode ever, “The Pickle Story” manages to be tear-inducing hilarious, and still manage to explore serious ethical questions that have plagued people since society began. When is it alright to lie to the people you love? What are the consequences of cheating?
That is not to say they never took a look into the supernatural side of things. In Don Knott’s last season his character had two episodes that were almost “zone-ish.” In “Three Wishes for Opie” Barney obtains a Gypsy box that really does seem to have magical powers. And “The Lucky Letter” is still as relevant today as ever, what with all the chain-emails going around.
In its first five years at least, before the show went color and lost Barney, it is arguably one of the best television shows ever aired.

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