Looking back TAGS had an impressive lineup of guests & bit players that would go on to have notable careers. That list includes James Best (Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazzard), comedian Don Rickles, Jerry Van Dyke (Coach), Gavin MacCleod (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Love Boat), Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie), Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard), Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk), legendary movie stars Jack Nicholson & George Kennedy, Jack Albertson (Chico & The Man), Morgan Brittany (Dallas), Richard Bull (Nels Oleson on Little House on the Prairie), William Christopher (Father Mulcahey on MASH), Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester on The Addams Family), Ellen Corby (The Waltons), Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis), Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies), Jamie Farr (Klinger on MASH), Ann Morgan Guilbert (The Nanny, Grumpier Old Men), Pat Hingle (Batman), Alan Hale Jr. (The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island), Howard Hesseman (Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati), Larry Clovis (Hogan’s Heroes), Allan Melvin (Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch), actor/director Rob Reiner (Meathead on All in the Family), and Lee Van Cleef (The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly).
Now on with the countdown.
100 The New Housekeeper (S1E1)
Technically the concept for TAGS was introduced in a February 1960 episode of Make Room For Daddy, aka The Danny Thomas Show. However this is the first standalone episode of the show. The powers-that-be must’ve been on their game…the show premiered just 8 months after the pilot. We meet Sheriff Taylor and his son Opie as they are celebrating the wedding of their housekeeper Rose. Because Rose is moving out of town with her new husband Andy’s Aunt Bea comes back to Mayberry from Morgantown, WV (the real life hometown of Don Knotts) to take care of Andy & Opie. It is implied that Aunt Bea is from Mayberry but had spent a few years in West Virginia. Six year old Opie is very attached to Rose, who presumably took care of him since he was a baby, so he doesn’t quite warm up to Aunt Bea at first. However when Aunt Bea attempts to leave because she can see the boy is unhappy he begs her to stay. This is a great introduction to the core characters…Andy, Opie, Aunt Bea, & Barney…and it gets better from there.
99 The Rivals (S3E28)
Opie has a crush on a classmate, but she just isn’t that into him. When Thelma Lou tries lift Opie’s spirits the boy starts crushing on her and Barney feels left out in the cold. Classic Barney, and great father/son stuff between Andy & Opie. A very sweet episode.
98 Aunt Bea’s Brief Encounter (S2E9)
Aunt Bea becomes enamored with Mr. Wheeler, an itinerant handyman who stops by to help her with some rosebushes. Upon finding out that the man lives in his truck Andy & Aunt Bea ask him to stay with them for a bit and do some work around the house, but he keeps weaseling out of doing any actual work. After a comment from the mailman about Mr. Wheeler’s soft hands Andy becomes suspicious and finds out the “handyman” is just a freeloader that takes advantage of kindhearted women like Aunt Bea. Andy manages to scare off the scoundrel and all is well.
97 Bringing Up Opie (S1E32)
Concerned about negative influences on Opie’s behavior Aunt Bea talks Andy into restricting Opie’s visits to the jail. The boy quickly becomes bored in the afternoon hours after school and wanders off only to fall asleep in the back of a truck that drives off away from Mayberry. There are some heartwarming father/son moments between Andy & Opie, and that’s always a good thing.
96 Three’s a Crowd (S2E27)
Andy decides to court lovely county nurse Mary Simpson. However every time he is alone with her Barney shows up and obliviously interjects himself into the situation. When Andy finally explains things to Barney (in a nicer way than anyone else in the world probably would) the overzealous deputy jumps to the conclusion that the sheriff is about to become engaged. Hilarity ensues. This is the second & final appearance of Nurse Mary. The actress is absolutely beautiful and it’s a shame she & the character disappeared without a trace just like a couple other ladies that Andy dated.
95 Divorce, Mountain Style (S4E25)
Charlene Darling wanders down from the hills seeking to divorce her husband Dud. Of course with The Darlings nothing is ever simple or normal, so a divorce in their world entails some sort of weird hillbilly ritual, which is really funny. In the midst of this craziness Charlene…who has been sweet on Andy since the moment she met him…decides she’s wants to marry the sheriff. Fortunately Andy & Barney find a way to “curse” the union and scare Charlene away. That curse involves Barney dressing in black and riding a horse at midnight…or something like that. It’s hysterically entertaining stuff. There’s no Opie or Aunt Bea in this episode, but that’s alright. Charlene is a real looker and might have been a good match for Andy, but that possibility was never seriously explored. Bob Denver portrays Dud, replacing the actor who’d played the character on two previous occasions. Denver had just spent four seasons playing beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and a few months later would begin a three year tour as the titular character on Gilligan’s Island.
94 Goodbye, Sheriff Taylor (S5E10)
When Andy goes to Raleigh to interview for a detective job he makes Barney acting Sheriff. Barney deputizes Otis & Goober, and chaos quickly ensues. At the end of the day Barney realizes that “sheriffin’” is far different than “deputyin’”, and Andy decides to stay in Mayberry. Ironically at the end of the season it would be Barney moving to Raleigh to become a detective.
93 The Manicurist (S2E16)
A young & beautiful manicurist sets up a space in Floyd’s barber shop. The men of Mayberry are a little wary of her presence at first, but quickly warm up to her, upsetting their wives in the process. The manicurist is portrayed by Barbara Eden, who would begin her belly-baring gig on I Dream of Jeannie a few years later. This episode marks the final appearance of Mayor Pike, as the actor passed on before the show aired. It is also the last of a half dozen appearances by town hypochondriac Emma Watson.
92 One-Punch Opie (S3E14)
Opie figures out that the new kid in town is a menace who isn’t worth the trouble. When Opie stands up to him the bully runs off like a coward. The mixture of comedy from Barney and classic father/son stuff from Andy & Opie is the kind of balancing act that makes TAGS great.
91 Bailey’s Bad Boy (S2E15)
Why is it that people think they can speed thru Mayberry?? And why does everyone who gets caught doing so have to make things so difficult on poor Andy?? In this case the perp is a spoiled young man from an affluent family who arrogantly thinks his Daddy will come to his rescue. After Andy takes him fishing and to Sunday dinner at his house the young punk begins to soften a bit, especially after observing the sheriff do some parenting with Opie. There is some really funny stuff in this episode from Otis, and of course the father/son relationship between Andy & Opie is one of the foundations of the whole series. The arrogant speeder is portrayed by Bill Bixby, who would go on to sustained success in three different shows… My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, & The Incredible Hulk.
90 Andy and Opie – Bachelors (S3E4)
Aunt Bea goes out of town to visit a relative. While she’s away Andy’s girlfriend Peggy McMillan steps up to take care of he & Opie. Peggy is a nurse just like a previous Andy paramour…Mary Simpson. Maybe Andy likes sponge baths or something. Anyway, Floyd gets into Andy’s head, convincing him that Peggy is trying to push her way into the Taylor household and trick Andy into proposing. Andy really seems to be afraid of commitment…perhaps because others are always trying to shove him into one. There’s a really sweet scene with Andy playing guitar & singing on the front porch with Peggy while Opie listens. We never saw Helen Crump do that. Poor little Opie seems to crave a mother’s attention. Darn shame Andy made him wait so long and passed up such splendid candidates.
89 Andy and Barney in the Big City (S2E25)
This episode is a rarity in that it is set almost entirely outside of Mayberry. Andy & Barney travel to Raleigh to try to get more funds for their department. Barney proceeds to get involved in tracking down a jewel thief at the hotel. Of course being Barney he pegs the wrong guy (the house detective in fact) for the crime, and it’s up to Andy to set things right. Classic Barney. Hardcore purists might have an issue with the lack of Mayberry-ness, but I’m okay with it since it doesn’t occur often.
88 The Luck of Newton Munroe (S5E29)
A fast-talking traveling salesman comes to Mayberry. Unfortunately everything he sells turns out to be a hunk of junk. Andy takes pity on the young man and asks him to paint his house, with hilarious results. The salesman is portrayed by comedian Don Rickles, who guest starred on a ton of TV shows in the 60’s, as well as doing movies like Kelly’s Heroes and several “Beach” films starring Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello, all while headlining shows in Vegas and hanging out with Frank Sinatra.
87 Class Reunion (S3E19)
Andy & Barney attend their 20 year high school reunion and Andy meets up with an old girlfriend. There is definite chemistry between the two, but while Andy’s heart is in Mayberry his lady friend has left small town life in the rear view mirror, which proves to be an insurmountable obstacle. This episode aired in 1963, and it is indicated that Andy & Barney graduated in 1945, so the math doesn’t quite add up. Sharp eyed viewers of soap opera Days of Our Lives will recognize Andy’s gal pal as being portrayed by actress Peggy McCay. McCay has played matriarch Caroline Brady on DOOL for over three decades.
86 Barney Fife, Realtor (S5E16)
Barney takes on a second job as a real estate agent. He soon convinces Andy to look into purchasing a bigger house while concurrently selling his own. Opie hilariously spills the beans to prospective buyers about work that needs done on the Taylor homestead, because of course his Paw has taught him all about being honest. Similarly, the house that Andy is interested in has its own issues. At the end of the day everyone decides to stay put where they are, and Barney’s second career seems to end just as quickly as it began.
85 The Big House (S3E32)
Barney & Gomer are in charge of guarding two criminals while Andy is out catching the other two members of their gang. The twosome are inept on an individual basis, and together they are hysterically incompetent. The prisoners keep escaping, but Andy keeps bringing them back before they get too far. George Kennedy makes a brief appearance as a state police detective, four years before he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Cool Hand Luke.
84 Briscoe Declares for Aunt Bea (S4E5)
Briscoe Darling becomes enamored of Aunt Bea, but when she resists his advances he kidnaps her. Andy comes up with the idea of Aunt Bea trying to force Briscoe to clean up his act and become more civilized. The ploy works, as he gets mad at Aunt Bea and promptly ends the “relationship”. This is the only time we see the Briscoes without Charlene.
83 Andy and the New Mayor (S3E3)
Less than a year after the final appearance of Mayor Pike there’s a new head official in Mayberry. Mayor Roy Stoner is uptight & demanding, and he clashes with Andy because of the sheriff’s easygoing way of handling situations. In this case the mayor becomes angry when Andy temporarily releases a prisoner so that he can go tend to his farm, with the promise that he’ll return in three days. When the man doesn’t return on time Mayor Stoner goes in search of him, with the kind of hilarious conclusion only TAGS can provide.
82 Barney and Thelma Lou, Phfftt (S4E30)
While giving Thelma Lou a ride to Mount Pilot Gomer lets slip an offhand comment that Barney made about having Thelma Lou “in my hip pocket”. Naturally this upsets Thelma Lou, who then decides to use clueless Gomer to make our favorite deputy jealous. Gomer enlists Andy’s help to extract himself from the situation, and as usual Sheriff Taylor straightens out the chaos. No Opie or Aunt Bea in this episode, but that’s okay.
81 Andy’s Rich Girlfriend (S3E2)
Andy Taylor had a few girlfriends in the first few seasons of TAGS, but by far my favorite is nurse Peggy McMillan. She was portrayed by actress Joanna Moore, who would go on to become the wife of Ryan O’Neal and the mother of Tatum O’Neal. In this episode we are introduced to Peggy as she & Andy go on a double date with Barney & Thelma Lou. When Andy finds out Peggy comes from a wealthy family Barney gets in his head and convinces him that Peggy is out of his league. Andy begins avoiding Peggy which leads to an argument. Thankfully the two eventually kiss & make up. Perhaps the relationship might have worked out if other people would’ve stopped sticking their nose where it didn’t belong.
80 Barney’s Sidecar (S4E16)
Sensing a need for more patrols to catch speeders Barney buys a motorcycle…complete with sidecar…at an army surplus auction. Barney really gets into it, even donning goggles & a leather jacket, but the townsfolk in Mayberry just laugh at him. He also overdoes it with the speed trap, pulling boxtrucks over for going only 5mph over the limit (flexibility they’ve always been given to get over a nearby hill), and ticks off everybody in town with his overzealous enthusiasm with his new toy. Andy cleverly figures out a way to convince Barney that the bike is an historic artifact and gets him to donate it to a museum.
79 The Mayberry Band (S3E8)
The Mayberry town band wants to go to Raleigh for a statewide competition. The only problem is they’re horrible. Mayor Stoner refuses to let the group participate and embarrass Mayberry, but with a little help from Freddy Fleet & His Band with a Beat Andy is able to convince the Mayor to fund the trip. Freddy Fleet was known as Bobby Fleet on two previous TAGS appearances, and writers affiliated with the show later admitted that the continuity error was simply a mistake. The character was portrayed by three different actors, adding to the confusion.
78 The Clubmen (S2E10)
Andy’s fishing buddy from Raleigh invites the sheriff up to the capitol city to hobnob with snooty members of The Esquire Club. Andy gets permission to bring Barney along. Unfortunately Barney tries a little too hard to make himself seem sophisticated, in the process coming across as a buffoon. A few days later Andy is extended an invitation for membership, but he politely turns it down when Barney is rejected. There is a really funny scene at the beginning when Andy catches Barney napping in the courthouse and Barney tries to play it off. Don Knotts always did some of his best acting with his expressive face and bulging eyes.
77 The Shoplifters (S4E21)
When Ben Weaver reports that things have been coming up missing from his store Barney decides to investigate. In one hilarious scene Mr. Weaver and Barney mistakenly hunt each other down late at night in the store while the security guard sleeps thru almost the whole thing. When that idea doesn’t work Barney decides to go undercover as a store mannequin, with hilarious results. In the end Barney does end up catching the perp…with an assist from Andy. A different, much younger, actor portrays Mr. Weaver due to the death of the performer who’d played the character in three previous episodes. A better writer would’ve specified the character here to be Ben Weaver Jr., but continuity wasn’t a strong suit of the folks in charge of TAGS.
76 Andy and Opie, Housekeepers (S1E23)
Aunt Bea jumps on Andy & Opie for being slobs, and then she is called way to help out a sick relative in Mt. Pilot for a few days. Andy & Opie are determined to keep the house tidy in Aunt Bea’s absence but fail miserably. They hurry to clean it up before she returns, but then Andy decides that Aunt Bea might feel unneeded so they mess it up again. However while the boys are on their way to pick up Aunt Bea at the bus station Clara Edwards (called Bertha Edwards in what is her inaugural appearance) decides to pop in and clean the house for them. When the Taylors return they’re all surprised at how clean the living room is, but Opie has enough time to mess up his room again and Andy trashes the kitchen to spare Aunt Bea’s feelings. When Aunt Bea says the house looked like a pigpen when she got home Miss Edwards is hilariously offended. Opie is adorable in this episode.
This seems like a good place for another break. Stay tuned.