The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 1- The New Housekeeper. October 3, 1960. Grade: 2 Stars out of 5 Stars.
The first episode of The Andy Griffith Show- sets up the core four main characters for the series. Andy Taylor-the Sheriff and Justice of the Peace in Mayberry, North Carolina, his young son Opie, Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife and Andy’s Aunt Bee.
The show opens with Andy marrying Andy and Opie’s housekeeper Rose- marrying Wilbur Pine in the courthouse- with Opie and Deputy Barney Fife in attendance. Opie is dead set against the marriage because it will mean losing Rose as their housekeeper. Rose by the way never appears in another episode and she is never mentioned again. Where did she go off to?
Andy’s Aunt Bee is going to move to Mayberry and take over Rose’s role in the household. Opie is dead set against this even though he’s never even met Aunt Bee up until now. Bee shows up and most of the episode is Aunt Bee trying to win Opie over. Rose was apparently good at baseball and fishing- Bee gives both a try but is hopeless. She also forgets to close the door to the bird cage when cleaning it and Opie’s bird Dicky flies away. Before going to bed Bee overhears Opie saying his prayers and at the point where she things she is the ‘special person’ Opie is about to mention- is hurt when its Rose instead. Aunt Bee sees its not going to work out and in the morning packs up her belongings and gets ready to leave. Opie sees Aunt Bee about to leave and rushes down and tells her he doesn’t want her to leave-because who would look after her- she can’t do anything.
- The only main character in the first episode who seems to hit the ground running- and is already the character we will remember is Barney. He is only in a couple scenes- but the scene in which he arrests an elderly woman- Emma Brand for jaywalking- is pure Barney. Barney is mainly a back ground character in the episode- but we get a glimpse of what is to come.
- At the start of the series Andy is not that Andy we will come to know. Early in season 1- the Andy character is kind of a homespun- cornpone character- and is overacted by Griffith. The over exaggerated southern accent Andy and others use- will also be dropped by the end of Season 1. Early on Andy was the comic figure- and I don’t think it was working well. It didn’t take long before they saw that Andy playing the straight man to Barney was the way to go. Without that change of character in Andy- I don’t know if this show really takes off? The actor Andy Griffith- seems overacting in this episode.
- In this episode Andy and Barney refer to each other as cousins. That is only brought up a couple other times in the series. Also another thing that will change is- you get the impression that Barney is new to the job- and wants to prove to everyone that he was the one best qualified for the job and didn’t get it because of the family relationship. During the series the length of Barney’s service as Deputy Sheriff will vary.
- Opie Taylor was six years old when the show starts. During the run of the entire series I’ve always thought Ronny Howard played the role perfectly. In this first episode he seems out of character with the Opie we would get to know. Again, it was just the first episode but Opie is rather annoying in this episode.
- The show ends with Andy and Aunt Bee on the front porch with Andy playing the guitar and singing ‘The Crawdad Song’- music would play a big part in the series. Andy Griffith did record an album an album of country and gospel songs during the run of The Andy Griffith Show. I really enjoyed the music that was featured on the show- especially from The Darlings when they came to town.
- Andy is a widower. Andy’s wife is mentioned in only one episode. None of her family was ever mentioned in the entire run of the series. Did Opie have grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins from his mother’s side? Who knows.
- Aunt Bee was invited to move in by Andy- in this episode Bee mentions how she raised Andy. What happened to Andy’s family? Also- Bee moves to Mayberry from Morgantown, WV.- Don Knotts- [Barney] was from Morgantown in real life.
- The laugh track is very annoying and loud in this episode.
- Overall I will give this episode a break and give it 2 1/2 stars out of 5. It was the premier episode. As mentioned the Core Four- of Andy, Barney, Opie and Aunt Bee were introduced. I will also give them credit that they would recognize that this Andy- wasn’t working and it wouldn’t be long before the character changed. Also have to give Griffith credit. Instead of being the clown in the show- he was willing to play the role of the more mature character instead of the simpleton we see in this episode.
ANDY GRIFFITH- ANDY TAYLOR
RON HOWARD- OPIE TAYLOR
DON KNOTTS- BARNEY FIFE
FRANCES BAVIER- AUNT BEE TAYLOR
MARY TREEN- ROSE
FRANK FERGUSON- WILBUR PINE
CHEERIO MEREDITH- EMMA BRAND
Directed by Sheldon Leonard
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart