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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Second Season
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Second Season
Paramount // Unrated // May 24, 2005
List Price: $38.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted May 22, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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Movie: Since the beginning of television, one of the most enduring genres has been the so-called "cop show". Let's face it, whatever our grievances about the methods and tactics society's protectors sometimes use, they are our everyday heroes; the ones we call on to do the jobs no one else wants to do. In any given television season, there are usually a number of such shows, be their focus dramatic or comedic, and one of the best was the The Andy Griffith Show. With all the other shows being released on DVD in the past couple of years, it should come as no surprise that this show eventually came to the popular format and today's review is on The Andy Griffith Show: Complete Second Season.

The Andy Griffith Show is one of those down home comedies to spring forth in 1960 when television was in Black & White and the country was looking for a simpler time having emerged relatively unscathed from the worrisome 1950's. American's were seeing urban sprawl overtake many areas of the country and the country had not yet lost its innocence to Vietnam, Watergate, or the growing civil rights movement. In short, the time was perfect for a show that focused on the small town exploits of a sheriff in Mayberry, NC and his extended family of friends and neighbors as they went about their everyday lives. Andy Griffith played a widower raising a small son, Opie (Ron Howard), with the help of his aunt, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), while handling the minimal disturbances in the town with the help of his deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts). It's difficult to understand how pervasive the show is in our culture since each of these main characters has become something of an archetype over the years, spawning numerous copycats and setting the stage for so many other shows that came after it (I'd be surprised if I ran into any adult in this country that hadn't watched this show in syndication or when it first came out given how frequently it's on cable these days).

Andy's philosophy was simple; the people he polices are his friends and neighbors so he always attempted to do right by them as he kept law and order in Mayberry. As an elected official (both sheriff and Justice of the Peace), he had to be responsive to their needs while maintaining the function of his sworn offices which he managed to do so with the kind of common sense so often missing in these modern times. He balanced his life out by raising Opie as best he can, a difficult task considering the way young boys have a way of getting into trouble (even good boys like Opie seem to find their way into trouble it seemed), and attending the usual social events like church, dances and the rest of American circa "the good old days". The second season differed from the First Season in numerous ways but one of the most notable was the loss Sheriff Taylor's sweetie, Ellie Walker (played by Elinor Donahue). The two had no chemistry together and even though the producers gave her a lot of time in the spotlight, that fact never changed. Instead, they had Andy play the field a bit and didn't settle into a steady girlfriend until a later season, allowing him to mature in other ways.

The second season showed Andy as less of a goofball driven by unfortunate circumstance as something of everyone's friend; a decidedly welcome change in my book. There were numerous episodes that focused on outsiders coming to the (even then) quaint town of Mayberry and how they interacted with Andy and the townsfolk. Some of the best that come to mind would be The Merchant of Mayberry, where a traveling salesman gets a lesson in small town life; The Manicurist, where a sexy Barbara Eden (pre-I dream of Jeannie) makes all the men fall for her like love sick school children; and even Opie's Hobo Friend, where a pre-Beverly Hillbillies Buddy Ebsen manages to show that small town America was less than tolerant towards those unwilling to carry their fair share of the load.

Barney has an increasing share of the spotlight too with episodes geared to showing his inflexible method of policing and pride as problematic in Sheriff Barney, where Barney finds out the top spot isn't all glamour and glitz; Barney's Replacement, where Barney found out his pride could be his biggest problem; and Jailbreak, where he has to make things right after a major screwup allows an escapee to break free yet again, as a few of the better episodes.

Other characters had their moments too but the best episodes were almost always the ones that had both Andy and Barney trying to fix something (regardless of whether or not it was broken in the first place). Some of the all time fan favorites include The Pickle Story, where the boys find themselves in a bit of a pickle (sorry for the pun) when they convince Aunt Bee that her homegrown pickles are far better than they really are; The Jinx, where they have to set things straight after making something of a self-fulfilling prophecy about a resident; Andy and Barney in the Big City, where the boys show the big city police that rural America has some worthy ideas too; and The Clubmen, where they appear ready to move upward in social status but the inevitable happens and they stick with what makes them truly happy.

My own favorite episodes were those that had characters that essentially attempted to discredit Andy in some way, especially since we all know he was as well meaning a man as ever lived, caring as deeply for his fellow man as he possibly could. A trio of shows from each part of the season were very much related in their attempt to show the superiority of "big city" people over the commoners found in rural towns. From Andy and the Woman Speeder, a show that proved how manipulation can outweigh integrity; to Bailey's Bad Boy, where guest star Bill Bixby used his wealth and power to attempt to circumvent justice; to Andy on Trial, where a newspaper publisher goes all out to retaliate when he feels slighted by Andy's devotion to duty; the three shows manage to show a distain for small town living by those in urban America that still carries on today.

The Andy Griffith Show: Complete Second Season was a pleasant look at a time and place that may have never existed outside the minds of some creative writers but provided quite a contrast to the redneck bias so many have foisted upon the general public over the years. Without debating the likelihood of characters that were nice to almost everyone they met, never locked their doors at night, and generally lived with their neighbors and community in mind (like much of small town America still is today believe it or not), I thought this season was a breath of fresh air. I've rated it as Highly Recommended for the quality of the material as much as the improvements in the technical aspects and extras included this time but one should remember that at it's heart, the show was about a cop that cared and his community that supported his efforts to do right by them. Isn't that the kind of law enforcement we all want, even today?

Here's a breakdown of the episodes of the second season in order on the DVD with their original air dates from CBS:

Episode 1: Opie and the Bully: (October 2, 1961):
Episode 2: Barney's Replacement: (October 9, 1961):
Episode 3: Andy and the Woman Speeder: (October 16, 1961):
Episode 4: Mayberry Goes Bankrupt: (October 23, 1961):
Episode 5: Barney on the Rebound: (October 30, 1961):
Episode 6: Opie's Hobo Friend: (November 13, 1961):
Episode 7: Crime-Free Mayberry: (November 20, 1961):
Episode 8: The Perfect Female: (November 27, 1961):
Episode 9: Aunt Bee's Brief Encounter: (December 4, 1961):
Episode 10: The Clubmen: (December 11, 1961):
Episode 11: The Pickle Story: (December 18, 1961):
Episode 12: Sheriff Barney: (December 25, 1961):
Episode 13: The Farmer Takes a Wife: (January 1, 1962):
Episode 14: Keeper of the Flame: (January 8, 1962):
Episode 15: Bailey's Bad Boy: (January 15, 1962):
Episode 16: The Manicurist: (January 22, 1962):
Episode 17: The Jinx: (January 29, 1962):
Episode 18: Jailbreak: (February 5, 1962):
Episode 19: A Medal For Opie: (February 12, 1962):
Episode 20: Barney and the Choir: (February 19, 1962):
Episode 21: Guest of Honor: (February 26, 1962):
Episode 22: The Merchant of Mayberry: (March 5, 1962):
Episode 23: Aunt Bee The Warden: (March 12, 1962):
Episode 24: The County Nurse: (March 19, 1962):
Episode 25: Andy and Barney in the Big City: (March 26, 1962):
Episode 26: Wedding Bells For Aunt Bee: (April 2, 1962):
Episode 27: Three's A Crowd: (April 9, 1962):
Episode 28: The Bookie Barber: (April 16, 1962):
Episode 29: Andy On Trial: (April 23, 1962):
Episode 30: Cousin Virgil: (April 30, 1962):
Episode 31: Deputy Otis: (May 7, 1962):

Picture: The picture was presented in its original 1.33:1 ratio full frame Black & White. The content being from a network television show airing well over forty years ago, you have to expect the limitations of the visuals on the DVDs. Compared to the first season DVD set, this one looked substantially better, using five discs to spread out the 31 episodes nicely. I saw no compression artifacts this time, nor did I see the rainbows some of the earlier season displayed, although I'd be misleading you to say the show looked like it was filmed recently. It looked superior to any airing I've seen on cable syndicated television and there wasn't any obvious editing (I believe the shows were all uncut as advertised).

Sound: The audio was presented with the original monaural track. It wasn't perfect but I've never heard the show sounding that way and venture a guess that it never did (the limitations of network television recording back when this was made were numerous), yet the Dolby Digital used to help clean up the various noises managed to improve the material a fair amount. For those who care, there was a Closed Caption symbol on the box so I presume it has the usual closed captioning (I don't have the equipment to test that out but Paramount is pretty good about such things if listed).

Extras: There were two extras worth noting in the DVD set. The first was the inclusion of the original sponsor spots that used to air when the show was on broadcast television. You'd see some of the cast, usually Andy, Barney and Aunt Bee (if not Opie for comic relief), hawking various goods like Sanka coffee or Post Toasties all in a short bit related to the theme of the individual episodes. Fans have long wanted to see these since they haven't aired in decades and I only wish the First Season had them too. The other extra was the inclusion of some limited liner notes about each episode, including their original air date. While I'd still like more extras, the fact that the five disc set appeared somewhat cleaner was good enough for me.

Final Thoughts: The Andy Griffith Show: Season Two was even better than the First Season both thematically as well as in the technical presentation of this DVD set. Much like The Waltons, the values that shaped our country were put on open display to serve as an example of what people should be like rather than the more gritty crime dramas of the day. I'm going to rate this one as Highly Recommended since the material was stronger than the first season in so many ways, the DVDs looked so much better, and the simple fact that the show was among the best look at rural life ever to come out of Hollywood.

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