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'The Andy Griffith Show's' Best Episodes (and a Few Worst)

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 3rd 2010 9:00AM
The Andy Griffith ShowToday is the 50th anniversary of the debut of 'The Andy Griffith Show,' so we wanted to highlight the series' best episodes -- and a few of the worst.

Picking the best episodes is pretty hard. Many of the episodes from the first five seasons could arguably be put on such a list. So many of them were so good.

The worst episodes? That's a lot easier, and here's why ...

The Best

'The Pickle Story.' This episode is always at or near the top when TV Land polls 'Andy Griffith Show' fans (it was also Don Knotts' favorite), and with good reason. It's really an episode that encompasses everything great about the show: Andy and Barney doing what they can to not hurt Aunt Bee's feelings while helping Clara, Ronny Howard is cute as hell and the writers do a fine job at conveying how important something like a pickle contest can be to the residents of a small town. It was a really satisfying half-hour of TV.

The Andy Griffith Show'Ellie Comes To Town.' The great 'Andy Griffith Show' episodes make you want to live in Mayberry, and this is one of those. New druggist Ellie Walker comes to town to help out in her uncle's store and rubs people the wrong way when she insists on doing things by the book, not knowing what life in a small town is like. (You can watch this episode for free at TV Land.)

I always thought that Andy should have ended up with Ellie instead of Helen, but the writers didn't do much with her character as the season went on and she ended up leaving the show.

'Opie and the Bully.' This episode may seem dated -- even quaint -- by today's standards, but it really works. Opie is threatened by a bully at school and Andy has to decide whether or not to interfere or let Opie fight the boy himself.

'Andy on Trial.' It was always interesting when Andy or Barney left Mayberry and went to "the big city," and this one has Andy tracking down a speeder who didn't show up for a court date. Unfortunately for Andy the man is an influential magazine publisher who hires a woman to go to Mayberry and dig up dirt on Andy. And she does, thanks to a bragging Barney.

'Opie the Birdman.' This is another episode that is always on the "best of" lists. Opie accidentally kills a mama bird with his slingshot and has to care for her youngins. Everybody say it at once: awwwwwwww.

The Andy Griffith Show'Wedding Bells For Aunt Bee.' Aunt Bee thinks that she's the one in the way of Andy and Helen getting married, so she starts dating dry cleaner Fred Goss, even though she doesn't really like him. This episode has two really emotional scenes -- one where Frances Bavier cries and the other where Andy talks to Opie about love -- that are really beautiful and good examples of what made this show so great.

'Man in a Hurry.' A harried businessman is stuck in town because his car breaks down and he has to learn how to slow down a bit in his life.

'Bailey's Bad Boy.' Bill Bixby plays a rich, arrogant twentysomething who learns a lesson after being thrown in the Mayberry jail.

'Barney's Uniform.' Allen Melvin must have played the bad guy -- a different bad guy -- a dozen times on this show, and he did in this episode. He plays a guy who works at the local store who doesn't clean the street, so Barney gives him a ticket. The guy tells Barney that he's going to beat him up once he's out of his uniform, so Barney decides to wear the uniform all the time, which makes Andy realize something is up.

Me? I just would have told Barney to put that bullet in his guy and tell the guy to shut up.

'Mr. McBeevee.' This is one of those episodes where Andy doesn't believe Opie at first and ends up looking like an idiot and has to apologize. But it's not one of those typical "dad is a dummy" episodes you might see in many sitcoms, it's a story of believing in someone even when all logic tells you that what they're saying can't possibly be true.

'Andy and the Women Speeder.' A woman speeds through town in her sports car and thinks it's a small-town speed trap, so she decides to fight the ticket. Of course, the Mayberry jail isn't really set up for a lady spending time there, which leads to all sorts of problems.

For the record, Andy was right in this episode. She should have just paid the damn $10.

The Andy Griffith Show'Barney Gets His Man.' What happens when Barney accidentally captures a big crook? The crook escapes and vows revenge, of course. I love the way Andy is incredibly dedicated to Barney and helps him save face in almost every episode. That's real friendship.

'Crime-Free Mayberry.' Mayberry gets an award from the FBI for being the most crime-free town in the U.S. The FBI guy is actually a crook, of course (Andy and Barney should really look at IDs more closely), casing the town bank, and he has a secret accomplice in town to help him.

'The Christmas Story.' There's nothing particularly special about the plot of this holiday episode -- it's basically 'A Christmas Carol, as a grumpy old man learns the meaning of Christmas -- but I've always been a sucker for Christmas episodes.

The Andy Griffith ShowThe Worst

All of the color episodes.

Is that cheating? Maybe. But most fans and critics agree that the show completely changed when it went to color. When I'm watching the show on TV Land and a color episode comes on, my heart sinks a little and I have to change the channel.

Why? So many reasons. The veteran characters somehow changed when it went to color. Andy went from being strong and calm and wise to being a typical frantic sitcom character. Helen became brittle and outrageously jealous. And worst of all the supporting characters (some of them new to the show) suddenly had to go from supporting to being a big part of many of the episodes, and it just didn't work. It became a lesser show, and even the writers started to repeat plots.

I happen to think the show went downhill after Don Knotts left the show, but for pure worst we have to go with all of the color episodes in general.

'The Andy Griffith Show' airs daily on TV Land. Check local listings.

[Follow Bob on Twitter.]

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The show certainly made a huge difference after Barney left. Seems Mayberry was free of crime. The endearing characters were gone. Storylines were dull. Simple inane storylines were taking over.

I am watching the last two seasons just to see how bad it actually got.

April 01 2015 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
justin knox

The spaghetti episode was one of the few I remember of the color episode. Andy unknowingly goes to dinner in various character houses. Howard and his mother go out of the way to avoid telling him they didn't expect him and has another supper. Fits in with the niceness of the show. It was sort of a riff off the pickle episode but still very good.

October 03 2010 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Also on the best list:

1. Any episode with Ernest T. Bass. "No coffee, tea, or punch, thank you."

2. Comedy bits between Andy and Barney, like when Barney tried to recite the Preamble to the Constitution.

3. The episode: Barney and the Choir (S02E20)

October 03 2010 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
steve rubin

same thing can be said about the original superman tv shows the black and white's were 10 times better than all the color episodes

October 03 2010 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Imagine if the Opie and the Bully episode were done today.

1. First of all it woule be a "very special episode" citing facts and figures about the number of students who are bullied nationwide.
2. Andy would probably be brought up on child endangerment charges for allowing Opie to fight and Child Protective Services would pay a visit to his house.
3. Opie and the bully would have to attend "anger management" re-education camp

It would all be politically correct - and boring as hell...

October 03 2010 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And the supporting characters continued their downward spiral in the spin off series Mayberry RFD. And if you want something funny to read, go to Thrilling Days of Yesteryear to read Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.'s essays: Mayberry Mondays. Every monday (hence the name), he writes about an episode of the series (in original air date order), and adds his own commentary to the mix.

October 03 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"I happen to think the show went downhill after Don Knotts left the show, but for pure worst we have to go with all of the color episodes in general."

Isn't that the same thing? Knotts leftat the end of season 5, the show went to color for season 6.

October 03 2010 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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