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Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Seventh Season, The

Paramount // Unrated // August 29, 2006
List Price: $38.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted September 12, 2006 | E-mail the Author
A show that marked its debut in 1960 and enjoyed an incredible run on prime-time television, it is perhaps matched only by it's ability to continue to draw fans old and new in syndication, year after year, decade after decade- does anyone think Friends will be shown in reruns 45 years from now? Showing up during the tumultuous 60's, it and a few other sitcoms that are truly worthy of classic status became that way because they did a number of things very, very well. Even during that era many sitcoms came and went rather quickly, in spite of the scant variety of programming available for the average viewer. The comedy shows which tended to have a span of several seasons were the ones which that centered on a main character who was engaging and endearing in his/her role, and then built a strong supporting cast around the star. Looking back, the 60's were an innovative and incredible period for sitcom television, and The Andy Griffith Show is about as good an example of this as can be found.

Affable, humble, humorous, fair and a myriad of other commendable qualities, Andy Taylor quietly ruled rural Mayberry-Anytown, USA- with an unassuming wisdom even Buddha might envy. It can be legitimately argued that this was an ensemble show, but Griffith was the tower of strength at it's center. His portrayal of a simple man who in truth wasn't simple of mind at all wears the badge of sheriff as comfortably as one would their favorite slippers. In Andy we see caring father and forgiving friend, fair mediator, moral example, a peaceful soul that could also be perceived as one you'd probably not want to cross. One look at Andy Taylor and you just know this man sleeps peacefully each night. He's doing a job that he truly loves and it shows.

Here is a synopsis of the 30 season seven episodes-

"Opie's Girlfriend"- Opie hangs out with Helen's niece and winds up getting a black eye.
"The Lodge"- Howard wants to join the lodge but, thanks to his mother, one member blackballs him.
"The Barbershop Quartet"- Mayberry is the reigning barbershop quartet champions but their title is in jeopardy when their fourth man can't make it. There is a voice in Mayberry that would make the perfect replacement- in jail.
"The Ball Game"- Andy is the umpire of a championship baseball game between Mayberry and Mt. Pilot and must make a tough call when Opie slides into home plate.
"Aunt Bee's Crowning Glory"- Aunt Bee starts wearing a wig and is afraid to admit to it when she starts seeing a visiting pastor.
"The Darling Fortune"- The Darlings arrive in Mayberry to find wives for his boys. At first they don't like their prospects until a mountain superstition sets their sites on Helen.
"Mind Over Matter"- Goober is involved in a minor car accident and Floyd and Aunt Bee tell him stories that convince him he has whiplash.
"Politics Begin at Home"- There is an opening for town council and Aunt Bee is convinced to run- but Andy, is committed to support Howard Sprague.
"The Senior Play"- Helen is head of the school play but, when the principal sees the go-go dancing that they're planning, he tries to force Helen to conduct a more traditional play.
"Opie Finds a Baby"- Opie and Arnold attempt to raise an infant they find on the courthouse steps. Jack Nicholson guest stars.
"Big Fish in a Small Town"- Howard wants to try his hand at fishing and snags the legendary silver carp that the Mayberry fishermen have been trying to catch for years. Howard has the fish sent to an aquarium but has second thoughts when he discovers how much the fish means to his friends.
"Only a Rose"- Aunt Bee tries to grow a hybrid rose to beat out Clara at a garden competition. Unfortunately, the rose gets too close to a football thrown by Opie.
"Otis the Deputy"- Andy sets out after bank robbers and is captured and held captive. When Howard and Otis suspect something is amiss, they take off to rescue Andy. Unfortunately, Otis takes a little nip of encouragement before leaving. Otis's last episode.
"Goober Makes History"- Goober grows a beard and thinks it automatically makes him an intellectual.
"A New Doctor in Town"- A young doctor arrives (played by William Christopher of M*A*S*H) and Andy sticks up for him, until Opie needs his tonsils removed.
"Don't Miss a Good Bet"- Andy's friends are swayed by a crooked investor who claims he can uncover a legendary treasure. Andy warns them that they are risking their money but ends up investing himself.
"Dinner at Eight"- Goober confuses messages and Andy ends up having three spaghetti dinners in one night.
"A Visit to Barney Fife"- In season 6, Barney came to Mayberry for a visit. In season 7, Andy goes to Raleigh and is suspicious of the family with whom Barney lives, especially when there is a string of unsolved grocery store burglaries going on. Classic Barney Fife here.
"Barney Comes to Mayberry"- Barney arrives just when Teena Andrews, a Mayberry native who is now a big movie star returns for a publicity visit. Barney used to date Teena in high school and thinks the spark is still there.
"Andy's Old Girlfriend"- Andy, Helen, Howard, and Andy's high school sweetheart go to a cabin for a weekend getaway. Helen gets jealous when Andy and his old flame get lost in the woods.
"Aunt Bee's Restaurant"- Aunt Bee goes into partnership on a Chinese restaurant and then starts fretting over the financial risk and a cookie of misfortune.
"Floyd's Barbershop"- Howard buys the barbershop to the ire of Floyd.
"The Statue"- Mayberry commissions a monument for Seth Taylor, but find out he was a crook.
"Helen, The Authoress"- Helen is hired by a publishing company to put out a book on children; Andy becomes jealous.
"Goodbye Dolly"- A milkman's horse is replaced by a truck; Opie is concerned that the horse no longer wants to eat.
"Opie's Piano Lesson"- Opie is torn between piano lessons and football practice.
"Howard, the Comedian"- Howard is so funny he goes on television; unfortunately his jokes prove a little too close to home for some of the folks of Mayberry.
"Big Brother"- Howard helps a student with his studies but becomes more interested in the student's older sister.
"Opie's Most Unforgettable Character"- Opie wants to write a paper on his father but finds it is more challenging than he had anticipated.
"Goober's Contest"- Goober holds a contest at the filling station but a printing error has Floyd believing he's won more money than the station can afford. This episode marked the last appearance of Floyd.

While the show had no chance of recapturing the glory of the Andy/Barney years, season seven was something of a renaissance year after season six which was the viewers first look at a Mayberry with so many significant character losses; Jim Nabors had taken his Gomer Pyle character off to a spinoff series of his own after season four. Funny as Nabors' goofy down-home grease monkey character was, Barney was the true slapstick comedic relief, with Don Knotts taking physical comedy to a level all his own. Gomer was somewhat replaceable with almost equally goofy and likable cousin Goober, but there was no replacing Barney Fife. If Griffith was king, Knotts was the clown prince that allowed the show to effortlessly shift gears between amusing and hilarious year after year. To lose both Knotts and Nabors in the course of two seasons was alot to ask of a sitcom that made superb use of several cast members. While season six certainly has its moments, the show was still trying to find its way, using the cast of characters they had left. More than anything else, that is what probably makes season seven a better one; the writers as well as the cast knew going in what they had available to work with, and had learned some solid lessons in the prior season. First and foremost, there is no replacing Barney Fife with some other goofy character as they had tried in season six to what must have been a deluge of negative response from fans. Accentuate what you have and build in other areas, but forget replacing Don Knotts.

In season seven, accentuate they did. The core characters from season six were still here; Andy, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier, who won an Emmy for her role for this season) and Opie(Ron Howard), and the three get plenty of plotlines devoted to them over the course of the season. Supporting characters Goober (George Lindsey) and Andy's girlfriend Helen (Aneta Corsaut) are made proliferate use of as well, but the character that is really built upon in season seven is county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), a pretty good move on the producers' part. Town drunk Otis (Hal Smith) is still here for laughs, and of note this is the final season one would see wonderful, lovable (Howard McNear) as barber Floyd Lawson; he had suffered a serious stroke and was unable to walk or make use of his left arm. Still wanting to work even in this compromised capacity, scenes were written around his ailment; this would be his final season. While we don't see Ernest T. Bass in season seven, the backhills family the Darlings are still around and made use of for an episode- this is the last season the viewer would see Floyd, Otis or the Darlings.

What also worked in season six was bringing in Don Knotts to guest star as Barney for two episodes, a move that won Knotts an Emmy award; for the season seven episode "Barney Comes To Mayberry", Knotts repeats this success, taking home his fifth Emmy for playing Barney Fife- proof that sometimes the voters do get it right after all. Other significant points at this stage in the show's history come as a result of audience familiarity with so many characters year after year. Opie is now-gasp!- a teenager, and while not little boy cute anymore, has turned into a pretty fine young actor, loved in his role regardless of age. Helen is utilized much more this season, and its obvious that Andy and Helen are going to go the distance. Its a bit like watching your family and their neighborhood change over the years; the changes are there, but they come in a subtle fashion, nuances added to personalities while leaving the core intact, neighbors coming and going. Andy Griffith is a curious show, when one analyzes its long lasting popularity; its a sitcom that was immediately a hit with viewers, and for good reason. Even after it started losing supporting characters, its popularity didn't plummet- in fact,the series closed out season seven as America's third highest-rated program. In part this was because audiences at the time had made the show a part of their weekly routine, and it was a time when television choices were a fraction of the fare available today. Still, with so many character departures (and even more come when season eight rolled around) as well as Griffith seemingly tiring of the role, the writing was on the wall; Andy Griffith fans are fortunate that season seven gelled as well as it did.

The DVD-

Andy Griffith- The Complete Seventh Season is presented as a five disc single-sided set, in slimcases housed with a cardboard sleeve.


Aspect ratio here is 1.33:1 fullscreen. As was the case with Season Six, colors seem accurate and for the most part the shows look very good. While a bit on the soft side, the viewer is likely going to see these shows looking better than they ever have on TV.


The audio track here is Dolby Digital mono. Nothing special but its clear and easy to understand, fine for its purpose.



Final Thoughts-

When you don't have enough apples, make applesauce. In the case of Andy Griffith- The Complete Seventh Season the crew did a fine job taking advantage of the talent still available after the cast losses they had suffered; significant points regarding season seven are the losses of yet more characters, making their final appearances here. Losses and all, this is still 30 episodes and 780 minutes of Mayberry goodness. With an Emmy each for guest star Don Knotts and Frances Bavier as well as a place at or near the top of the ratings in 1966-67, this is something of a swan song for the series, though there was still more Andy/Mayberry to come. Recommended.
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