The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 24: The New Doctor: March 27, 1961. 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
The opening segment sets up the episode- Aunt Bee is cooking for the upcoming social dance. She asks Andy if he is taking Ellie and Andy says Yes- there is an understanding between them. Bee tells him he should ask her- she’d like to be asked. Opie suggests maybe Andy might marry Ellie someday- which draws a negative reaction from Andy. Barney comes to pick Andy up- and as they drive into town of course Barney has the siren on- for no reason that he likes having the siren on.
Andy and Barney stop over at the drug store – Andy wants to ask Ellie to the dance. Ellie is occupied with the new doctor in town- a young doctor named Robert Benson. When he hears that Dr. Benson is single- Barney’s immediately alerted and his imagination starts to run wild. He sees Benson as competition for his friend Andy. “He’s young- he’s single”- When Andy tells Barney he’s not worried Barney responds ‘IF you ain’t worried I ain’t.” Barney mentions they are both in the medical field ‘two people lost in a world of pills.’ Andy starts to look a little troubled.
Barney continues to dwell on this- planting seeds of worry into Andy’s head. Then Aunt Bee comes into the jail to visit and Bee talks about how impressive Dr. Benson is- and sees things as Barney does- Benson could be competition for Andy if Andy doesn’t get with it.
Barney decides he is going to use his investigative skills and spy on Benson and Ellie. He goes to Benson to get a check -up. Barney is telling Benson how Andy jealous Andy can be- Benson is examining Barney and not really paying attention to Barney. When the doctor tells Barney that he has low blood pressure and that he will have to have a series of shots and treatments- immediately Barney loses interest in the Andy/ Ellie/ Dr. Benson issue and is alarmed about himself “Am I going to live!’
Bee again starts to work on Andy- suggesting that its time for Andy and Ellie to get engaged. Andy [as he always will do in the series when pressed that a relationship move to the next step] isn’t all that excited about the idea of marriage but he is also worried about losing Ellie if he remains inactive. Opie who is taking this conversation all in says that Andy is ‘scared.’ Opie of course is correct as usual.
Andy gets all worked up and goes to see Ellie- to ask her to the dance. He seems very unsure if she is going to go with him. When he asks she says of course and he seems relieved. Then Dr. Benson shows up at the house and Ellie tells him about the dance and invites him to come along with her and Andy- which makes Andy less than thrilled but of course he goes along with it.
The next day- Barney and Andy sees a smiling Dr. Benson going into the drug store again. Andy sends Barney in to see what is going on. Ellie and Benson are in the back room and Barney sneaks around trying to see what is going on in the back. Benson is telling Ellie about his girlfriend who he is engaged too- and who will be coming to town. They will be getting married. Barney only hears them talking about the marriage part- and hears Ellie say that Andy could perform the marriage. Barney of course runs to Andy and tells him that Ellie and Benson are getting married and- they are going to ask you to marry them! Andy is furious. Andy is going to go fight for what is his!
Andy bursts into the drug store and breaks into the conversation Ellie and Dr. Benson are having. He tells Ellie he thought they had an understanding and then talks himself into a hole. Ellie asks ‘Are you proposing?” Dr. Benson mentions maybe we can have a double wedding- and mentions about his fiance and their upcoming marriage. This is like throwing cold water on Andy- and Andy tries to back track from the proposal. He says he believes in long engagements- like 5 years. Ellie says she doesn’t believe in long engagements. Andy just assumes that Ellie’s answer to his proposal would be ‘Yes’- but her answer is ‘No’- that she believes they should take their time and get to know one another- which is a relief to Andy.
The final segment- Andy and Barney walk into the drug store- and they hear Ellie in the backroom -and the words ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’- and think Ellie is at it again- especially when they hear Dr. Benson’s voice. They walk in and- its Opie she’s talking to- he had fell and skinned his elbow.
- A comeback from the previous episode- in watching the show critically as I go through the series- I had always thought that Barney was the greatest character in sitcom history- and I am even more convinced now that he certainly is. There is a difference in the episodes with and without Barney. The Andy character can be inconsistent but Barney is always spot on- even in episodes where he is not featured he tends to steal the show. He plays a central role in this one- his paranoia spreads quickly to Andy- and his ‘detective’ work is the high light of the show.
- Again we have a new character in town- a doctor- Dr. Benson states in the show that he is going to make Mayberry his home. His fiance is coming to town and they are getting married. We never see him again in the series.
- In this episode Andy mentions the band Bobby Fleet and his Band with a Beat- the band which Mayberrian Jim Lindsay had joined in episode three ‘The Guitar Player.’
- Another strong performance by Elinor Donahue as Ellie. As I mentioned before she seems the adult in town who has the most common sense- even though she is a lot younger than the other adult characters in the show. It’s a shame she leaves after season 1- a much better character and more likable one than Helen Grump would be.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Elinor Donahue- Ellie Walker
George Nader- Dr. Robert Benson
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart.