The Andy Griffith Show: Season 2/ Episode 1: Opie And The Bully. October 2, 1961. 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS.
I am sure when the series started this wasn’t planned but in Season 1-Episode 1 it featured young Opie in crisis-in that case it was the housekeeper Rose leaving and Aunt Bee moving in. It would become a tradition the first episode of the new season- Opie in crisis. In season 2’s first episode- Opie is getting bullied for his nickel milk money by some two bit punk named Sheldon. Should also be noted that the final episode of season 1- was an episode centered around Opie. Anyway- every day Opie is getting a nickel from Aunt Bee and then hitting Andy or Barney up for an extra nickel. He has to pay Sheldon a nickel to pass his street on the way to school. Opie gives the nickel up but is troubled by it.
When Andy discovers that Opie is getting two nickels a day he is troubled by it but doesn’t know why Opie wants the extra money. Enter Barney who follows Opie on his way to school. This episode has more serious moments in it than funny ones -but Barney following Opie is the funniest scene. Especially when he is sitting on someones porch with a newspaper in front of his face- and a big circle cut through the middle of the paper so he can spy on Opie.
Barney finds out that Opie is being bullied and brings the info back to Andy. Andy is thoughtful in how to deal with this- Barney wants to immediately swing into action but Andy is patient and wants to come up with the best way to deal with it. He doesn’t want Opie to go through life being afraid of things. At the end of a fishing trip Andy makes up a story about being bullied as a kid by a Hoadie Snitch. He ends up standing up to Hoadie even though it meant getting punched. Opie gets the story and the next morning bravely faces Shelton. When Opie doesn’t give up his nickel- predictably Sheldon follows through on his threats and punches Opie in the face. Opie proudly returns the jail and tells Andy and Barney how it didn’t hurt- and he was clearly proud of his black eye. It was his medal of courage. He also gives back the nickels he took from his pa and Barney. Opie wants to keep that black eye for as long as he can.
The Andy we met at the beginning of season 1 would have never responded this way- by the start of season 2- the Andy Taylor character seems fully developed. I came across this interesting quote by producer Aaron Ruben on the development of the Andy Taylor character- He was being that marvelously funny character from No Time for Sergeants, Will Stockdale [a role Griffith played on stage and in film]…One day he said, ‘My God, I just realized that I’m the straight man. I’m playing straight to all these kooks around me.’ He didn’t like himself [in first yea- reruns]…and in the next season he changed, becoming this Lincolnesque character.”
Of course the punk Sheldon- is a one off character- never appearing in another episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Terry Dickinson- Sheldon