The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 31: The Guitar Player Returns. May 15, 1961. 3 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS.
Jim Lindsey- the Mayberry guitar player who was featured in episode 3- is back in town. In the opening segment Andy walks into Walker’s Drug Store all excited- and tells Barney and Ellie that Jim is coming back to visit. Ellie has never heard of him. Andy and Barney go to Floyd’s Barber Shop- and tell Mayor Pike and Floyd the news- and they all come up with big plans to welcome Lindsey back. The mayor of course has to throw in-having his daughter sing. They are going to give him a police escort into town and have a drum and bugle corp at the hotel to play when Lindsey arrives.
Lindsay pulls into town driving a new sports car- pulls up next to the jail and surprises Andy and Barney by walking in playing his guitar. Andy goes and grabs his guitar and they play a tune together. Barney is upset- his plans of driving the police escort of Lindsey into town are gone but that doesn’t stop him from escorting Lindsey to the hotel- maybe a half block away. There is a band there playing and Mayberry natives there to greet Lindsey. Mayor Pike gives a little speech and so does Lindsey.
That evening Lindsey is over at the Taylor’s house- Ellie and Barney are also there. Andy and Lindsey are playing “Midnight Special’- and then Lindsey talks about being back in Mayberry to relax. He’s quit the Bobby Fleet Band- and has gone out on his own. He speaks of how he’s moved up and is now a big star on his own. Then the truth comes calling- there is a knock at the door and the man at the door is demanding Lindsey pay up- he’s three payments behind on the car. When Lindsey says he’s tapped out- his car is repossessed. When he comes back in- his face shows a very worried man- but no one seems to notice. When asked to play another tune- Lindsey plays a blues on his guitar.
Next Lindsey is in the Drug Store- and he puts his purchases on his ‘tab.’ Andy walks in- and when Fleet has left- Ellie speaks of how he’s running up a big tab-and shows no signs of paying it off. Andy doesn’t seem to concerned- until he leaves and walks towards the jail. He then changes direction and goes into Floyd’s- where Floyd and the hotel manager Jason are talking. Turns out they are talking about Lindsey. Floyd talks about how Lindsey has changed- and isn’t paying for anything- but what is really bothering him is Lindsey’s attitude. Jason speaks up and says that Lindsey isn’t paying his hotel bill either- just ignoring the bill.
Andy decides to call Bobby Fleet- and Fleet shows up in Mayberry- it turns out- Lindsey had gotten big headed- quit the band and flopped on his own. He came back to Mayberry because he had nowhere else to go. Fleet is willing to take Lindsey back though because he is a great guitar player. When Andy goes to talk to Lindsey in his hotel room- Lindsey is packing to leave- and Andy lets it drop that he’s talked to Bobby Fleet. Lindsey knows that Andy knows the truth- but he refuses to go back to Fleet. Andy then arrests him for leaving town without paying his bills. When they get to the jail- Barney and Bobby Fleet are in there. Lindsey is put in a jail cell. Fleet offers to pay his bills- and after some talk- Fleet pays the bills Lindsey had run up- and gave him a raise- to which Lindsay accepts and is back in the band.
In the final segment- Andy and Lindsey finish playing a tune- when Barney offers to play with them -with his harmonica. They put Barney in a jail cell and go back to their guitar playing.
The penultimate episode of season 1- updates what has happened to Jim Lindsey- from episode 3- while Lindsey will never appear in another episode at least we had Lindsey come back to town. It makes me wonder- as season 1 ends- we’re they out of ideas and chose to update the Lindsey episode? It’s not as good as episode 3- and for some reason the actor who played Bobby Fleet in episode 3- Henry Slate is replace by Herb Ellis. Slate was more charismatic.
On a sad note- this would be Ellie Walker’s final appearance in the series. In this episode all seems well between Ellie and Andy- but she disappears without ever being mentioned again in the series. Like she never existed.
James Best who plays Jim Lindsey is best known for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in- The Dukes Of Hazard.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Eilnor Donahue- Ellie Walker
Howard McNear- Floyd Lawson
Dick Elliott- Mayor Pike
Phil Chambers- Jason
Herb Ellis- Bobby Fleet
Thomas Browne Henry- the Repo Man
James Best- Jim Lindsey
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart