The Andy Griffith Show: Season 2/ Episode 13: The Farmer Takes A Wife: January 1, 1962: 3 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
A farmer- a real rube Jeff Pruitt- played by Alan Hale Jr- the future Skipper on Gilligan’s Island- comes to town to get a wife. He is well known to Andy and Barney- comes into the jail and tells the guys what he is in town for- and picks up Barney- who he calls ‘little buddy’ numerous times in the episode- sound familiar? Opie comes in and mentions seeing Jeff picking up girls- which startles Andy- what would Opie know about picking up girls? Well Jeff is picking up girls on the side walk- actually picking them up. Andy rushes out and puts a stop to it.
Andy has Jeff over for supper-and Andy and Bee try to give Jeff some advice. He just doesn’t understand that it takes a while- you just don’t come to town and in two days have a wife picked out. Barney comes up with a great [he thinks] idea- Thelma Lou is having a ‘hen party’- and Andy and Barney will get Jeff cleaned up and take him over to meet some girls. That backfires when the girl Jeff selects is Barney’s -Thelma Lou. Barney is horrified and we see Andy in the background smiling. Barney has got himself into another mess.
Jeff shows up at Thelma Lou’s with flowers- he tells Thelma Lou he knows he can’t ask her for marriage right now- he will leave and come back- and then do that. He picks Thelma Lou up– Barney is watching all this and his ticked off. He confronts Jeff- and tells him Thelma Lou is his girl etc–to which Jeff responds- are you engaged? have you asked her to marry you?- well of course Barney hasn’t- and Jeff pretty much says she’s fair game. Barney then goes into the house and tells Thelma Lou she has to ‘nip it, nip it, nip it in the bud.’
Andy and Barney are at the jail- they look out and see Jeff carrying Thelma Lou’s groceries- and Barney flips out- he is going to go fight Jeff- to which Andy tells him ‘you can’t- he’ll kill you’- Barney is determined to fight for what is his- and Andy tells him he forbids it.
Next Andy is at Thelma Lou’s and comes up with a plan. Jeff is a country boy who would never live in town…. next we see Aunt Bee and Andy at the Taylor home- and they are trying to make Jeff into a ‘gentleman’- which is what would attract Thelma Lou. Jeff is very awkward with this. Then Andy takes Jeff to get a suit. He shows up at Thelma Lou’s looking awkward and out of place. Jeff and Thelma Lou sit on the couch and she offers him dinner- ‘finger sandwiches’- which certainly isn’t going to do the job for Jeff who has a huge appetite. Andy then stops in- and tells them he has a lead on a couple of houses. Jeff responds he has a farm he can’t move into town. Thelma Lou tells him she isn’t a farm girl. Andy then says he has leads on jobs for Jeff- a bank guard, a job in the vegetable department at the grocery store- or best yet a shoe salesman. Thelma Lou says that would be the job we want- Jeff is now all fired up- no way will he ever have a job working under a roof. Jeff rips off his tie and suit jacket- and is ready to go back to the farm- where he will marry his neighbor- Bertha. Barney arrives at this point- ready to fight. Jeff doesn’t want to fight- and leaves. Barney now is all cocky-thinking he faced Jeff down. He says ‘the harder they come the harder they fall’ -and ‘to the victor comes the spoils’ and grabs Thelma Lou and gives her a big kiss.
In the final segment- Andy and Barney are standing out in front of the jail and a rough looking character Joe Waters parks in front of the jail. Barney coming off this showdown with Jeff- is all confident and gets in Joe’s face. Joe is about to tear him apart-but in the background- Andy motions to Joe to back down- and he does. As he pulls his car away- Barney says to Andy ‘I hate fighting, it’s ugly’- and Andy just gives him a funny look.
Note- As Andy and Jeff arrive at Carroll’s to buy Jeff a suit- a man is exiting the store -it is Andy Griffith’s real life father- Carl.
I have a friend who reminds me of Jeff- back in 7th grade- Dieter- who had went to a small country school came into the big town for junior high- a town the size of Mayberry. To Dieter is was like a big city. He didn’t get off the farm very often- except to come into town for his Little League Baseball games and to visit me. In junior high when the first big school dance came- Dieter started asking girls for dates. He was rejected but he never took no for an answer. In fact it became a joke- to everyone but Dieter. Eventually he asked every girl in the 7th grade to the dance- and every girl told him NO! Years later I told him- I didn’t know what to think about this- if I had asked a girl to the dance and she had said ‘no’ that would have been the end of it for the time- I wouldn’t have the courage to face another rejection. I didn’t know whether to admire Dieter for his never taking no for an answer- and continuing to ask girls out– or think he was crazy for not stopping after he was rejected a couple times. That episode though-he will now admit kind of marred his relationships with girls in junior high and high school- he wasn’t taken seriously- and no girl felt bad about rejecting him. Just the way Jeff acted in this-reminded me of Dieter. Jeff was clueless- and so was Dieter. Eventually Dieter got some sophistication but it took a while. Luckily you can escape your high school reputation.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Ronny Howard- Opie Taylor
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Alan Hale Jr- Jeff Pruitt
Betty Lynn-Thelma Lou
Bob McQuain- Joe Waters
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart