They don’t make sitcoms the way they used to. Currently, streaming series dominate the television landscape. The comedies that do come out are often short-lived. The Andy Griffith Show harkened back to an earlier time. It was also a different style of sitcom, one that isn’t seen much today.
In many ways, it changed television. So what was the story behind The Andy Griffith Show? Let’s take a look back at what it was about, the once-in-a-lifetime cast it pulled together, and when it aired.
What was ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ about?
Set in the fictional town of Mayberry, The Andy Griffith Show followed the exploits of Sheriff Andy Taylor. The show had one of the most memorable theme songs in TV history — it simply consisted of whistling and guitar. The opening theme featured the sheriff walking his son down to the watering hole to go fishing.
According to Britannica.com, Sheriff Taylor had a “prudent and common-sense approach to life and law enforcement.” Most of the criminals he dealt with were of the small-town variety, such as the town drunk Otis who jailed himself when he got inebriated and let himself out when he sobered up. The show also featured Taylor’s son, Opie. The parenting lessons on display were a major element of the show.
Other characters on the show included Taylor’s goofy cousin and deputy, Barney Fife. It also featured a gas station attendant named Gomer Pyle. The show was immensely popular during its run.
The show boasted a star-studded cast
To really judge how great the cast of The Andy Griffith Show really was, it helps to look at what they achieved outside the show. Taking a closer look reveals an extremely talented group of performers who were able to excel outside the show as well.
The show’s star, Andy Griffith, starred in numerous movies and TV shows throughout the years. During his later career, he was very popular playing an attorney in the legal drama Matlock.
Don Knotts played Barney Fife. Knotts was another one of the show’s breakout stars. He had a long career in both film and television. Along with starring in many Disney comedies, he also later starred in the sitcom Three’s Company.
Jim Nabors played Gomer Pyle and later got his own spinoff sitcom, Gomer Pyle USMC.
Ron Howard played Opie. In the ’70s and ’80s, he played another iconic sitcom role as Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. Later in his career, he’d become an influential director in Hollywood, directing hits like A Beautiful Mind, Rush, and Frost/Nixon.
The show’s strong cast is part of what made it so enduring. They also ensured it had a very long run on the air. So how long was it on, exactly?
When did ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ air?
The show aired from 1960-1968 for eight years. Throughout its entire run, the show never finished less than seventh in the Nielsen ratings.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Griffith left the show in 1968 at which time it became known as Mayberry RFD. The cast reunited for a TV movie in 1986 called Return to Mayberry. It ended up being the highest-rated TV movie of that year, and even Howard returned as Opie for the major TV event.
It speaks to the show’s popularity that it could be off the air for nearly 20 years and see such a strong return. Despite almost two decades without Sheriff Andy Taylor, fans took the opportunity to return in droves for the continuing adventures of the Mayberry crew, excited as ever to follow their exploits.
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