The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 4: Ellie Comes To Town: October 24, 1960. 3 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
Episode 4 is about the new girl in town-a young pharmacist named Ellie Walker- right out of college- who has come to town to help out her ailing uncle at his pharmacy across from the courthouse/ jail. What a town Mayberry must be- Andy and Aunt Bee go to the pharmacy- and its not open yet and Andy reaches up and gets the key above the door and they go in to help themselves. Can you imagine that anywhere today? A few years ago we were out in North Dakota and in a small town there was a gas station that closed at dark. There was a sign near the pumps- we close at 7pm- and the sign said something about if you get gas after we are closed put the money you owe in the box. I had to read that a couple times to make sure I didn’t misunderstand what I had read…. anyway- I am rambling away. Back to Mayberry- Ellie sees someone in the store and grabs Deputy Fife who is parked nearby and tells him the pharmacy has been broken into. In typical Barney style- he is parked near a mail box and has a hard time getting out of the police car. Anyway- Andy and Ellie meet. Ellie is kind of a by the book person-and understandably so. Andy seems to see no problem about coming in- helping himself and leaving the money behind. While they are talking in walks Emma Brand who needs her pills- without a prescription Ellie isn’t going to give her the pills. Andy doesn’t go along with this and backs Emma. The episode revolves around Emma and her pills. Emma is a hypochondriac and all that she had been given by Mr. Walker over the years had been sugar pills which he charged Emma only 10 cents for. Eventually Ellie comes around and delivers Emma her pills and Emma is happy.
This is a mediocre episode to me because of two things- one Andy goes into his country hick routine again. Also I think there had to be better ways to introduce Ellie into the story than to involve the Emma Brand side bar to it. Ellie Walker played by Elinor Donahue- clearly has Andy’s interest but for reasons I will go into in later episodes- Ellie only appears in a dozen episodes in Season 1- and disappears without explanation- never mentioned again. I think Andy would have been a lot better off with Ellie- than he would be with the girlfriend who entered his life in season 3- Helen Grump- I mean Crump. Anyway more into that at a later date. Also- the Emma Brand character- she was in three of the first four episodes- it would appear if you had seen only the first four episodes that she would be a recurring character- but she would appear in only three more episodes.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Eilnor Donahue- Ellie Walker
Cheerio Meredith- Emma Brand
Directed by Don Weis
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart
- The diploma that Ellie has is from Bernard University-and has her first name as Eilnor- same as Eilnor Donahue who plays her. From 1954-60 she played the oldest daughter Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best- which starred Robert Young and Jane Wyatt. Eilnor Donahue is still living- 84 years old.
- Andy Griffith wasn’t all that pleased that Eilnor Donahue was cast in the role as Ellie. There is an obvious age difference- in real life Andy was 11 years older- also since Donahue was well known for her years on Father Knows Best- he felt audiences might not accept her. In the end neither Griffith or Donahue was happy. But they could have written her out of the show- instead of just having her disappear like Chuck Cunningham would on Happy Days.
- Andy mentions briefly that he was in France during the war- which would have been World War II. In later episodes it comes across that Andy and Barney didn’t graduate from high school until 1946- so the writers must have forgotten this reference to France and the war?
- Ellie’s ailing Uncle Fred- doesn’t appear in this episode. He would appear in two episode in season 1 and that would be it.
- This episode was originally meant to be the sixth episode broadcast but was moved up because the producers of the show felt it important that Andy have a love interest.
I think it would have worked fine…they looked good together. Dick Van Dyke almost did the same thing to Mary Tyler Moore because she was 10 years younger but no one batted an eye. She was probably the best one suited for Andy. They had conflict but she wasn’t…mean or overly jealous.
Emma was one of those great characters running around Mayberry. Good episode…not in the great range but better than most other shows.
Andy’s perfect match- Charlene Darling!!!
Hans, I appreciate your insightful reviews of theses episodes of the excellent Andy Griffith Show.
RE: Helen Grump
Yeah, Helen always had a sour puss. Too “high maintenance” for easygoing Andy.
I’m curious if you ever saw Andy’s film debut in Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd” (1957), in which he played a nasty scoundrel, the polar opposite of Sheriff Taylor?
Thank you….That is a great movie– I read once where Andy admitted he was more Lonesome Rhodes than he was Andy Taylor… interesting.
I had forgotten how danged cute Opie is. He steals every scene!