The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 10: The Christmas Story. December 19, 1960. 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
I was commenting on a previous episode how- you never see winter and winter clothing in Mayberry, North Carolina- on the show. I had forgotten about this episode. This episode is The Andy Griffith Shows version of A Christmas Story -with Ben Weaver in the role of Scrooge. Barney opens the episode by walking in-wearing a heavy coat. Barney is bringing in the mail and brings in a load of Christmas cards. They open the cards- and Barney gets a card from his girlfriend Helda Mae and Andy ribs him about it. The jail is full of inmates but Andy sees to let them go- as long as they report back after Christmas is over. Department Store owner Ben Weaver then drags in a bootlegger named Sam Muggins. Weaver is worried about Muggins making moonshine- because it may cut into his earnings at the store since he sells liquor. Andy doesn’t want to arrest Muggins but of course Weaver insists. Muggins has a wife and two children and Andy has a plan- he arrests the wife and two children- and decides to relocate the planned Christmas party to the Sheriff’s office and along comes Aunt Bee, Opie, Ellie Walker and of course Barney to join the Muggins in celebrating Christmas. Ben Weaver is seen in the alley peeping through the jailhouse window. Scrooge- Weaver is touched by the Christmas spirit- and comes up with ways to get arrested so he can be in jail- and share Christmas with the rest. He succeeds- but first goes back to his department store and brings back gifts for everyone. At the end there is no evidence to hold Sam Muggins in jail- the moonshine is all gone. Ben Weaver had drank it all up.
- During The Andy Griffith Show’s seven year run- this is the only time that they had a special Christmas episode.
- The Ben Weaver character- would be played by three different actors in the course of the show. This is the first appearance of the character- played by Will Wright. Will Wright died of cancer in the summer of 1962 at the age of 68. Wright made three appearances at Ben Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show.
- The Ben Weaver character who runs Weaver’s Department Store- is the richest man in Mayberry.
- While it is Christmas in Mayberry and everyone seen coming in and out of the courthouse/ jail is dressed for winter it doesn’t look as if Mayberry will be having a white Christmas.
- In future episodes there will be more dealings with moonshiners- but not with Sam Muggins- this is the only appearance of Sam and his family in the series.
- It is mentioned that Weaver’s store sells liquor- which could be seen as a goof in the episodes writing- since Mayberry is in a dry county.
- Andy and Barney are happy to receive cards from the Hubacher Brothers- who are in the state prison. Although Andy and Barney had sent them to prison it appears they remain on good terms. Although the brothers do not appear in this episode- they will make two appearances in the future.
- Barney plays Santa at the end of the episode.
- Andy has his guitar in this episode and sings ‘Away In A Manger’ along with Ellie.
Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Elinor Donahue- Ellie Walker
Will Wright- Ben Weaver
Sam Edwards- Sam Muggins
Margaret Kerry- Bess Muggins
Joy Ellison- Effie Muggins
Kelly Flynn- Billy Muggins
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Frank Tarloff
This is one of my favorites of the first season and my favorite Weaver.