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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Third Season
The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Third Season
Paramount // Unrated // August 16, 2005
List Price: $38.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted August 22, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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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 Third 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 the third season, allowing him to mature in other ways. The third season was where the show really hit its stride though in many other ways too.

Gone was the clumsy manner in which Andy addressed some of the more charged characters of the series, in favor of his calming manner and reasonable nature. His love life was the center of a great many episodes this season too with the gorgeous Joanna Moore playing a nurse (Peggy McMillan) from a wealthy background in the first half of the season (in such excellent episodes as Andy's Rich Girlfriend, Andy and Opie, Bachelors, Barney Mends A Broken Heart, and Opie's Rival utilizing her talents the most. For whatever reason though, she was replaced mid-season with teacher Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut) starting with Andy Discovers America and playing increasingly larger roles as time went on in later seasons. While she worked well with the role, I always wondered why the Peggy McMillan character left the show since she had greater chemistry (and looked far prettier) with Andy than Helen.

The season was also notable for the more frequent appearances by musical quest stars, my favorite of which were the "Darling Clan" in The Darlings Are Coming and Mountain Wedding but also Jack Prince in Rafe Hollister Sings, the group in The Mayberry Band, and a couple of others. One of the major changes though (and one that should have stayed beyond the season but didn't) was the introduction of Mayor Roy Stoner (well played by Parley Baer), a no nonsense mayor who held Andy and Barney accountable for the manner in which they performed their official duties. Having a regular as a foil would've made the show that much better in my opinion, and later characters picking up the role weren't nearly as effective in this regard. The last notable change was the introduction of Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), the lovable goofus that later earned a spin off series as a marine.

If there are television shows as timeless as The Andy Griffith Show: Complete Third Season, they are few and far between as the sheer volume of home run episodes during this season was enough to win it a place in the hearts of many but the entire run of the series always managed to take the high road rather than go for the cheap laugh. It provided some moral guidance to the nation too as doing the neighborly thing was always preferable to the expedient course of action, something I only wish more people would've learned over the years. In any case, regardless of the handful of limitations the DVD set had in regard to a few missing minutes of material and commercials, I still think this was worth a rating of Highly Recommended for the great level of quality it consistently had to offer.

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

Episode 1: Mr. McBeevee: (October 1, 1962):
Episode 2: Andy's Rich Girlfriend: (October 8, 1962):
Episode 3: Andy and the New Mayor: (October 15, 1962):
Episode 4: Andy and Opie, Bachelors: (October 22, 1962):
Episode 5: The Cow Thief: (October 29, 1962):
Episode 6: Barney Mends A Broken Heart: (November 5, 1962):
Episode 7: Lawman Barney: (November 12, 1962):
Episode 8: The Mayberry Band: (November 19, 1962):
Episode 9: Floyd, The Gay Deceiver: (November 26, 1962):
Episode 10: Opie's Rival: (December 3, 1962):
Episode 11: Convicts At Large: (December 10, 1962):
Episode 12: The Bed Jacket: (December 17, 1962):
Episode 13: The Bank Job: (December 24, 1962):
Episode 14: One Punch Opie: (December 31, 1962):
Episode 15: Barney and the Governor: (January 7, 1963):
Episode 16: Man In A Hurry: (January 14, 1963):
Episode 17: High Noon In Mayberry: (January 21, 1963):
Episode 18: The Loaded Goat: (January 28, 1963):
Episode 19: Class Reunion: (February 4, 1963):
Episode 20: Rafe Hollister Sings: (February 11, 1963):
Episode 21: Opie and the Spoiled Kid: (February 18, 1963):
Episode 22: The Great Filling Station Robbery: (February 25, 1963):
Episode 23: Andy Discovers America: (March 4, 1963):
Episode 24: Aunt Bee's Medicine Man: (March 11, 1963):
Episode 25: The Darlings Are Coming: (March 18, 1963):
Episode 26: Andy's English Valet: (March 25, 1963):
Episode 27: Barney's First Car: (April 1, 1963):
Episode 28: The Rivals: (April 8, 1963):
Episode 29: A Wife For Andy: (April 15, 1963):
Episode 30: Dogs, Dogs, Dogs: (April 22, 1963):
Episode 31: Mountain Wedding: (April 29, 1963):
Episode 32: The Big House: (May 6, 1963):

Picture: The Andy Griffith Show Season 3 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 second season DVD set, this one looked about the same, using five discs to spread out the 32 episodes nicely. I saw no compression artifacts this time, nor did I see the rainbows some of the first 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 although a couple of episodes looked flawed, particularly The Darlings Are Coming, and to a lesser extent, Barney Mends A Broken Heart and one other I lost track of (sorry). I'm led to believe that the original prints of these episodes were all lost, with each having some missing (albeit minor) footage too but older shows will sometimes have this problem. In any case, the majority of episodes were so improved over the syndicated versions routinely shown (I've timed a few from a local channel, finding a lot of material cut from each episode to make room for commercials) that the issues with a few of them shouldn't be overstated.

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, Jello Pudding 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. I think some of the commercials might've been missing though since a handful of episodes didn't have them but the intent to showcase most of them was still a nice extra in lieu of the kind of extras the series deserves.

Final Thoughts: The Andy Griffith Show Season 3 proved the magic of an ensemble cast, combined with solid writing and a pleasant premise could maintain the type of enjoyable antics so many of us have relived for decades via the wonder of syndication. Perhaps better copies of the few slightly defective episodes can be found in the future in order to offer them as bonus extras in future sets and perhaps some of the surviving cast can be used to provide interviews or commentaries before it's too late but in general, the amount of down home warmth and humor was still in full swing here, easily earning the Highly Recommended rating I've given it.

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