TAGS Episode Guide: Ranking (Not Quite) Every Episode of One of America’s Most Beloved TV Shows…Part 4

Welcome back!! If you haven’t already done so please go back and check out Parts 1, 2, & 3.

 

barnthelI want to take a moment to address an elephant in the room. Obviously with this project we are ranking only episodes in the first five seasons of floydTAGS. It’s not that I don’t enjoy some things from the last few years of the show. There are quite a few entertaining episodes, such as Malcolm at the Crossroads when Englishman Malcolm Merriweather tangles with Ernest T. Bass. Or Aunt Bea on TV, when Aunt Bea wins a bunch of prizes on a game show and becomes a bit too haughty about it. And how about The Battle of Mayberry, when Opie researches a famous Revolutionary War skirmish & exposes the hidden truth, or Opie’s Piano Lesson, when the boy has to decide between piano lessons & football. There are also a few return  gp2visits from Barney Fife, episodes that snagged Don Knotts two additional Emmy Awards. Having said all that, it is undeniable that TAGS lost a otis4lot of its magic when Knotts departed his regular role and the show switched to color technology, events that happened to coincide. When I am channel surfing and run across a black & white episode I almost always stop and watch. If it’s a color episode?? Well…then it’s a tossup. Maybe I’ll watch, maybe I won’t. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay.

 

 

 

 

 

75     Back to Nature  (S4E31)

Andy, Barney, & Gomer take Opie and some other boys on a camping trip. Opie wanders off to pick some berries and Andy goes to find him. Instead of staying with the btnother youngsters Barney & Gomer also go looking for Opie and manage to get themselves lost. Andy then goes in search of them, and as in numerous other situations, finds a way to spare Barney’s fragile ego and make him look like much more of a rugged outdoorsman than he really is. Really funny stuff from Gomer & Barney.

 

 

74     Mountain Wedding             (S3E31)

Charlene Darling is set to wed Dud Walsh, but wild man Ernest T. Bass has taken a shine to Charlene and wants her for himself. Andy & Barney are recruited to help  mtnwedddeal with Bass, who keeps throwing rocks thru the Darlings’ windows. Andy devises a ruse in which Ernest T. thinks he’s kidnapping Charlene, but it is actually Barney in drag. This is the first appearance of Ernest T. and the only episode in which he & the Darlings appear together. It’s always funny when Barney dresses up like a woman.

 

 

73     Runaway Kid (S1E6)

After Opie tattles on his friends for a practical joke they played on Andy the sheriff proceeds to teach the lad about the importance of keeping one’s word. However that lesson backfires when Opie befriends a young runaway and declines to reveal the boy’s real name so Andy can call his parents. All’s well that ends well though, as Andy gets the info when the case is reported by another police department. I adore father/son stuff with Andy & Opie, and Barney is pretty amusing as well.

 

 

72     Lawman Barney (S3E7)

Two farmers illegally selling produce on the side of the road ignore Barney’s orders to cease & desist. This blatant disrespect brings Barney down, and it’s up to Andy to lawmanbhelp him regain confidence. But after the two farmers learn that Andy’s tale about Barney being a badass is completely false they again defy the deputy’s orders. After a pep talk from Andy the deputy confronts the men a third time with genuine confidence and they respect his authority. Character actor Allen Melvin makes the third of eight TAGS appearances, this time as one of the quarrelsome farmers.

 

 

71     Andy the Matchmaker (S1E7)

At a crossroads in his life Barney tells Andy he is resigning from the police force. He feels bored & useless since there’s never any crime in Mayberry. In an effort to prop up Barney’s self-esteem so that he won’t quit and maybe even ask out a woman he’s sweet on Andy & Ellie make up a story about Walker’s Drug Store being robbed. However, much to their surprise the deputy actually arrests a stranger he suspects of the “robbery”. In a twist of fate the suspect, though obviously not guilty of the fake crime, is actually a wanted man in back in Chattanooga. Andy covertly doing things to boost Barney’s fragile ego is a tried & true TAGS staple.

 

 

70     Rafe Hollister Sings (S3E20)

As Barney is prepping for a tryout to represent Mayberry in some kind of regional choral concert farmer Rafe Hollister comes into the courthouse. It turns out that rafe5Hollister has a beautiful singing voice, and Andy encourages him to attend the auditions. Choir director John Masters chooses Rafe for a solo, but Mayor Stoner isn’t happy because the farmer’s appearance is rather unkempt & dingy. Andy tries to save the day by buying Rafe some new clothes, but they are way too small & tight. He ends up singing in his overalls but is nevertheless a fine representative of Mayberry at the concert. This is the final series appearance for both Mayor Stoner & Rafe Hollister.

 

 

69     Cyrano Andy (S1E22)

In the inaugural appearance of the lovely Thelma Lou things are a bit shaky because Barney, who we normally see exude a boastful cool with the ladies, is really uneasy around her and doesn’t know what to say or how to act. When Andy tries to help Barney misinterprets his actions and Thelma Lou decides to use the situation to make Barney jealous. Barney then hysterically hits on Ellie, and she plots to scare him away by actually responding to his advances. Andy tries the same tactic with Thelma Lou. Of course the ploy works and Barney & Thelma Lou find their way back to each other. This is a great episode that makes me sad that Ellie Walker didn’t stick around Mayberry for the long haul.

 

 

68     Three Wishes for Opie (S5E14)

Barney buys a fortune-telling game, and after the first two of the three wishes he grants Opie actually come true he mistakenly thinks Opie’s third wish is for Andy & Helen to wed. Of course the deputy gets overexcited and the rumor that Andy & Helen are getting married quickly spreads thru Mayberry, much to the chagrin of the sheriff. Floyd & Goober are also around to provide a laugh or two.

 

 

67     Mayberry on Record (S1E19)

A record producer comes to town looking to make a folk music album featuring local artists. As always the citizens get overly excited and agree to invest in the project. However, Andy thinks the guy may be a swindler. Eventually he is able to convince the others of this, but just as they are ready to hunt down the producer he returns with news that he has sold the record and made everybody who invested a nice profit. Future bluegrass stars The Kentucky Colonels appear in this episode.

 

 

66     Andy and Helen Have Their Day         (S5E13)

Andy & Helen want to have a nice, peaceful Saturday at Myers Lake. Unfortunately Barney keeps showing up to be a nuisance. When Andy is arrested by the gameah warden for fishing without a license he tries to call Barney to have him bring money for the fine, but Goober gets the call instead. Goober totally screws up the message Andy gives him, and Barney jumps to the conclusion that Andy & Helen are getting hitched…a mistake Barney makes often. This basic idea would be utilized again a couple of years later when Deputy Warren Ferguson & Goober keep interrupting Andy & Helen’s date at the lake.

 

 

65      Hot Rod Otis     (S4E19)

Andy & Barney become concerned when Otis buys a car. They come up with a hilarious ploy to fool Otis into thinking he died after he goes on one of his frequent benders and wakes up in jail. As it turns out Otis had come to his senses before he ever got drunk and actually sold the car. No one else besides Andy, Barney, & Otis are seen in this episode.

 

 

64     The Darling Baby (S5E12)

Charlene Darling & Dud Wash have had their first baby, a girl they name Andelina. Briscoe, Charlene, & the boys come to Mayberry seeking a future husband for the darlingbabynewborn, which is hysterically funny in a creepy sort of way. While jamming a bit with Andy at the Taylor homestead Briscoe gets the idea that Opie would make a great future husband for his granddaughter. Andy disagrees strongly, and Barney is around getting accidently snockered on hooch again. Andy eventually fools Mr. Darling by having Opie sign the betrothal “contract” with a disappearing ink pen, which the old man looks at as some kind of voodoo so he & his family leave as quick as they can. I have always thought that the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry missed out on a really cool nod to this episode by having Opie’s wife be a grown-up Andelina instead of some random woman the audience has no reason to care about.

 

 

63     A Plaque for Mayberry (S1E25)

The Women’s Historical Society deduces that a descendant of a Revolutionary War hero is living in Mayberry and want to present that person with an award. Much to the horror of Andy, Barney, & Mayor Pike the family member to be awarded turns out to be Otis Campbell. However Otis surprises them all when he shows up to the ceremony stone cold sober and all cleaned up. Otis decides to donate the award to the town, rightfully noting that just because a person’s ancestor was a hero doesn’t make them one, which is the most logical point of the entire plot.

 

 

62     Jailbreak (S2E18)

The state police are in town hunting down a thief and they arrogantly request that the local force…Andy & Barney…just stay out of the way. When the crook is caught he is temporarily housed in the jail and Barney stupidly allows him to escape. Andy & Barney deduce that the criminal & his gal pal partner are holed up at the local trailer park, and it seems that they have kidnapped the bigheaded state cop. Barney actually captures a perp legitimately with his quick thinking instead of the dumb luck that usually leads to his particular brand of heroism. Character actor Allen Melvin makes the first of eight TAGS appearances in this episode, and we also meet dry cleaner Fred Goss.

 

 

61     Aunt Bea the Crusader      (S4E15)

Andy & Barney must reluctantly run Mr. Frisby off of his chicken farm because the county is going to build a new highway. Aunt Bea & her lady friends are bcrusadehorrified and organize a protest. However in the midst of the standoff it is discovered that Frisby has a moonshine still in his basement and of course the ladies become angry that they were fighting for a lawbreaker.

 

 

60     Sheriff Barney (S2E12)

A neighboring town in need of a sheriff offers the gig to Barney after seeing a flattering newspaper article. Andy knows that Barney isn’t prepared for the job because sheriffin’ is different than deputyin’, and in an effort to teach Barney that lesson the two switch jobs for a day. After Andy is able to easily solve a dispute that Barney couldn’t between two farmers Barney gets down in the dumps, but Andy is able to reassure him by making Barney believe he has captured the most wanted man in the county, bootlegger Rafe Hollister. Full of bravado again Barney turns down the new job because Maybery needs him. There is a really funny scene with Barney trying to extract information out of a sleeping Otis. The town drunkard jokingly gives the address of his liquor supplier and it takes Barney a second to realize it is HIS address. Did you know that the address given…411 Elm St….is the same as the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas?? Now that might seem like some kind of morbid joke…except for the fact that this episode aired almost two years BEFORE the Kennedy assassination!! This episode marks the first of three appearances by Rafe Hollister, although the actor had previously been on three other episodes portraying different characters.

 

 

59     Otis Sues the County         (S5E15)

After Otis slips & falls at the jail Barney makes him fill out an accident report, but when the notary public at the bank isn’t around Otis has to take the paperwork to Mt. Pilot to have it notarized by an attorney. That lawyer is a shyster who convinces Otis to sue the county, persuading him that he’d actually be doing Andy & Barney a favor by assuring that the courthouse would receive needed renovations. At the hearing Otis remembers that he actually tripped over his own coat. Floyd is particular obtuse in this episode, to great comedic effect. There is a really funny scene involving Otis & Barney wherein the clueless deputy accidentally becomes intoxicated, something tha happens a few times over the years. The actor portraying the shady lawyer had previously played a thief on the show a few years earlier.

 

 

58     The Darlings Are Coming  (S3E25)

The Darling family came down from the mountains to visit Mayberry about a half dozen times, and this was the first. They are meeting the bus that is bringing darlings2Charlene’s fiancée Dud home from military service. In the meantime though they keep sneaking into the hotel and disturbing the peace with their music. There’s a lot of good singing in this episode. I wouldn’t have minded more appearances by the Darlings.

 

 

57     The Pageant  (S5E11)

Aunt Bea takes over the lead role of Lady Mayberry in the Founder’s Day play after Clara Edwards has to go out of town, pageantbut it turns out she’s a terrible actress. Andy is given the task of telling her about her…lack of ability…but he is spared when Clara returns sooner than expected and Aunt Bea willingly steps aside. Founder’s Day is a big deal in Mayberry, as it is celebrated or mentioned a few times over the years. I’m sure some modern touchy-feely folks may get their knickers twisted about Andy & Barney’s portrayal of Indians, but political correctness wasn’t the cancer fifty years ago that it has become.

 

 

56     The Rumor  (S4E29)

Barney misinterprets a PDA between Andy & Helen that just so happens to occur in a jewelry store. He quickly convinces Thelma Lou & Aunt Bea that the couple are engaged, which of course they aren’t. Practically the whole town bucks up for a surprise party & gift, which in this case is a redecorated bedroom befitting a married couple. When Andy breaks the news that there is no engagement folks are disappointed but stick around for a party anyway. Barney trying to push Andy into marriage or jumping to the conclusion that he is about to get married is a storyline that is used multiple times throughout the show’s run, and it’s almost always sweet & funny.

 

 

55     Opie’s Fortune (S5E9)

After Opie finds a change purse containing $50 Andy tells the boy he can have the money…if no one has claimed it in one week. Immediately after the deadline a man comes forward claiming the lost loot, but Andy doesn’t have the heart to disappoint Opie. However Opie finds out anyway and, in one of those classic mix-ups between father & son, Andy thinks Opie is hurrying to spend the cash when in reality he is preparing to give it back to its rightful owner. Father/son stuff between Andy & Opie is always poignant, a stark contrast to so many of the dysfunctional relationships we see portrayed on television these days.

 

 

54     Up in Barney’s Room                   (S4E10)

Barney is evicted from Mrs. Mendelbright’s boarding house after he breaks her strict rule against cooking in his room. But when Andy & Barney hear that the landlady barnroomis about to sell everything and run off with a new beau they smell a rat. It turns out that the guy is a con man out to scam the old lady. They save her, Barney profusely apologizes for breaking the rules, and she agrees to take him back & maybe ease up just a little. This in the only episode with Mrs. Mendelbright, who was portrayed by the same actress who was the first to ever portray Tarzan’s Jane, in a 1918 silent film. Barney gets gooned on hard cider, and it’s always funny when Deputy Fife accidently becomes intoxicated.

 

 

53     A Feud Is a Feud (S1E9)

In a nod to Romeo & Juliet Andy tries to end a long running feud between two families who have offspring that want to get married. The feud has been going so long feudthat neither family patriarch even knows what they’re fighting about. Andy does his patented reverse psychology thing by trying to get the two old men to duel each other, but it turns out that both are spineless cowards and that no one in either family has ever been hurt or killed during the alleged feud. All’s well that ends well when the two youngsters tie the knot. Hearing Andy break down Shakespeare for Opie in his down-to-earth homespun way is one of the highlights of the entire series.

 

 

52     Man in the Middle      (S5E7)

Barney & Thelma Lou get into an argument & break up, only to reconcile the next day. But an offhand comment by Andy (that he didn’t even say) when trying to console Barney explodes into a mess of quarrels among Andy, Barney, Thelma Lou, & Helen. The foursome are the only characters in the episode, which is almost Shakespearean in the way that things get misconstrued & spiral out of control amongst the characters. The infamous night filter is used again, which thru the prism of modern technology looks really silly, although I’m sure 50 years ago few even noticed.

 

 

51     Ellie Comes to Town (S1E4)

When pharmacist Fred Walker falls ill his young niece Ellie arrives to run the drug store. She’s a bit uptight and doesn’t immediately get how things work in Mayberry, ellie3for example Andy having a key to the store and helping himself to what Aunt Bea needs. There’s also local hypochondriac Emma Brand (later Watson), who demands her pills sans prescription and requests Ellie’s arrest when she doesn’t acquiesce. Despite Ellie’s…rigidity…there is definitely a spark between her & Andy, and the two would go on to become a couple soon enough. She is one of my favorite Andy girlfriends. Emma is one of those delightfully quirky characters that only made a handful of appearances but makes an indelible impression. There’s also some adorableness from Opie here, and that’s always fun.

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a timeout. We’ll be back!!

TAGS Episode Guide: Ranking (Not Quite) Every Episode of One of America’s Most Beloved TV Shows…Part 3

Welcome back. If you haven’t done so please go back and peruse Parts 1 and 2.

 

bestLooking back TAGS had an impressive lineup of guests & bit players that would go on to have nicholsonnotable 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 be(Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies), Jamie Farr (Klinger on MASH), Ann Morgan Guilbert (The mccNanny, 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 thishousekeeper 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 wheelerman 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 simpsoninto 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 barneyhorse1divorce 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 edenup 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 bixbyAndy?? 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 bigcitydepartment. 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 ricklesman 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 peggymccayandygbetween 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 kennedyan 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 mayor12clashes 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_13Joanna 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 sidecarinto 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 shoplifterand 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.

TAGS Episode Guide: Ranking (Not Quite) Every Episode of One of America’s Most Beloved TV Shows…Part 2

Welcome back!! If you haven’t done so already please go check out Part 1.

 

All caught up?? Good.

 

otisBefore we continue allow me to offer a few random thoughts about TAGS. First of all, amongst widower Andy’s claralady friends during the run of the show my least favorite is the one he ended up marrying…school teacher Helen Crump. I much prefer druggist Ellie Walker, and would have liked to have seen more of nurses Peggy McMillan & Mary Simpson. Secondly, hardcore fans of the show are likely to notice multiple continuity errors (for example Bertha Johnson became Clara Johnson then Clara Edwards for no apparent reason). Back then the powers-that-be had no idea that we’d still be watching the show a half century later and asking silly questions about why certain things make no sense because something different was said a season or two before. They were just trying to make a fun TV show (they succeeded). Amongst prominent supporting characters I rather enjoy The Darlings, don’t much care for darlingsErnest T. Bass, and love almost any episode with andy_girlfriendstown drunk Otis Campbell. I understand that replacement deputy Warren Ferguson wasn’t well-received, but I wish he would have gotten a proper exit and others given a shot to wear the deputy uniform rather than leave Andy without any help for nearly 3 years.

 

Okay okay okay…I’ll stop babbling and get on with the countdown. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

130   The Lucky Letter       (S5E19)

Barney thinks he is suffering bad luck after throwing away a chain letter instead of forwarding it on. Andy tries to convince him that’s a bunch of tags12poppycock. Barney-centric episodes are almost always solidly funny.

 

 

129   The Great Filling Station Robbery                (S3E22)

Andy & Barney investigate a string of thefts at Wally’s Filling Station to find out whether or not a young employee is responsible. As always Barney is an inept yet comical crime solver, but even Andy doesn’t get the credit for getting to the bottom of this mystery. The accused man himself clears his name. Funny stuff from Barney & Gomer.

 

 

128   Banjo-Playing Deputy                  (S5E32)

The final two episodes of Season 5 take place at a carnival that is visiting Mayberry. Here we see Andy shut down a “risqué” harem dancer show that is tags13part of that carnival. He feels guilty when the show’s inept banjo player is left unemployed and hires the young man to do some stuff around the courthouse. There is some thought given to making him a temporary deputy, but it doesn’t materialize. In reality Jerry Van Dyke was offered a permanent role on TAGS and would have been a worthy replacement for Don Knotts, but he chose a starring role in My Mother the Car, a show that lasted only one season. What a huge missed opportunity for both TAGS and Van Dyke. Imagine the fun he would’ve brought to Mayberry those last few years!! This is also…sadly…the last episode of the show broadcast in black & white, and we all know how I feel about that.

 

 

127   The Farmer Takes a Wife   (S2E13)

A boorish farmer comes to Mayberry looking for a wife. To stop him from obnoxiously hitting on every farmerwoman that walks down the street Andy & Barney decide to help him out by cleaning him up and teaching him some manners. Unfortunately for Barney the farmer takes a shine to Thelma Lou. The farmer is portrayed by Alan Hale Jr., who a couple of years later would go on to star as The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island. He even calls Barney “Little Buddy”.

 

 

126   Prisoner of Love                  (S4E18)

A sexy female jewel thief attempts to seduce Andy & Barney in order to escape from the jail. This is a very sensual prisonerepisode (with the exception of an amusing scene involving the always funny Otis Campbell), and a rarity in that Andy falls under the same spell as Barney instead of being the sensible voice of reason. The actress who portrays the prisoner is probably better known for playing the green skinned Orion slave girl on a classic episode of Star Trek.

 

 

125   Andy Discovers America (S3E23)

Andy’s misinterpreted advice to Opie about the boy’s history homework gets him in hot water with new schoolteacher Helen Crump. Why Andy would find the overly emotional Miss Crump even remotely attractive remains a huge mystery. Good Lord is she terrifying. Most men would have run in the other direction after the initial meeting. Barney’s “explanation” of The Emancipation Proclamation is funny stuff, as is Andy’s folksy reverse psychology on Opie & his classmates about the importance of learning history.

 

 

124   Andy Forecloses       (S1E28)

Andy tries to help a financially challenged family keep their home despite being ordered to give them an eviction notice by their landlord, town malcontent Ben Weaver. This is the same family who Mr. Weaver had thrown in jail on Christmas Eve just a few months earlier, except they’re going by different names. Aunt Bea & Andy organize a rummage sale at the courthouse to raise the money the family owes, but in the end crusty ol’ Ben relents and allows the family to keep their house.

 

 

123   Ellie for Council                   (S1E10)

Ellie starts a battle of the sexes when she decides to run for a seat on the town council. Thru the prism of modern viewership & altered societal norms ellieit is hard to gauge whether this episode reflects the prejudices of an era or is a commentary on old-fashioned ideas during a time of social change. Either way it is reliably amusing, and I always liked Ellie Walker. It’s a shame the character didn’t stick around longer.

 

 

122   A Date for Gomer       (S4E9)

Thelma Lou convinces Barney to get a date for her very shy cousin to the annual Chamber of Commerce gomer2Dance. He gets Gomer to agree to the date, but at the dance Gomer suddenly disappears. It turns out he left to get the young lady a corsage. Barney & Thelma Lou and Andy & Helen find Gomer and his date dancing up a storm back at Thelma Lou’s house. A largely forgettable episode but worth it to see Gomer Pyle dancing. H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.

 

 

121   A Wife for Andy                    (S3E29)

Barney tries to set up Andy with just about every eligible bachelorette in Mayberry, but Andy is sweet on Helen Crump. Of course anytime Barney tries to organize something it’s tremendously amusing. Interesting trivia: one of the single ladies that comes to Andy’s house is portrayed by an actress that had a more longstanding gig…as the voice of Judy Jetson on The Jetsons.

 

 

120   Aunt Bea’s Invisible Beau           (S5E27)

Clara plants the seed in Aunt Bea’s head that her presence is preventing Andy from gettin’ hitched, so Aunt Bea says she is dating the “butter & egg man”…but it turns out that he is married. Andy discovers the ruse and reassures Aunt Bea that she isn’t an unwanted third wheel. The same basic plotline was used a few years earlier during the second season.

 

 

119   Dogs, Dogs, Dogs     (S3E30)

Opie brings a pack of stray dogs into the courthouse just as a state official is visiting. Fortunately the suit is a dog lover. Eventually Barney & Andy find dogshomes for all the dogs, but then their true owner surfaces. All’s well that ends well. I’m a sucker for anything involving dogs, and there is some cute interaction between Opie & Barney.

 

 

118   The County Nurse     (S2E24)

County nurse Mary Simpson enlists Andy’s help in convincing hardheaded farmer Rafe Hollister to get his tetanus vaccination. Mary appeared on TAGS twice played by two different actresses. I prefer the other one. Rafe Hollister makes three appearances in Mayberry and would have been a solid addition to the main cast.

 

 

117   Barney’s Bloodhound                  (S5E6)

Barney attempts to train a stray dog to be a crime fighting bloodhound, and as usual when our favorite deputy is involved things don’t go as planned. When Barney inadvertently gets kidnapped at Meyers Lake by an escaped convict the mutt obeys the criminal more than Barney. Of course Andy saves the day because that’s kind of his thing.

 

 

116/115/114       Barney Mends A Broken Heart (S3E6) – The Fun Girls (S4E27) – The Arrest of the Fun Girls (S5E28)

fungirls1The Fun Girls are Skippy & Daphne, two blonde bimbos from Mount Pilot who like to party. They take a shine to Barney (who Skippy constantly refers to as Bernie) & Andy (who is always greeted by Daphne with a gravelly “Hello Doll”) and wreak havoc on their lives on a few occasions in Seasons 3, 4, & 5. In their first appearance Andy & Peggy have an argument and Barney unsuccessfully tries to fix Andy up with oddball Lydia Crosswaite, who has the personality of a rice cake (strangest line of the entire series: “I hate the outdoors. When I go out into the sun I get the herpes.”). Barney then tricks Andy into heading to a Mt. Pilot hot spot where they meet up with The Fun Girls. Unfortunately Daphne’s old boyfriend shows up and punches Andy in the face. The next day Andy & Peggy make up and all is well. Andy is kind of a jerk in this episode, becoming jealous of Mary’s male friend for no reason. A year later The Fun Girls pass thru Mayberry and hit on Andy & Barney, causing Helen & Thelma Lou to become jealous. This episode is notable for being the first appearance of Goober, and it is the only one with both Goober and Gomer Pyle. A year after that The Fun Girls fungirls2are back in Mayberry and get arrested. Andy & Barney try to hide their presence at the jail from Helen & Thelma Lou…to no avail. I really don’t see anything attractive about The Fun Girls, and there certainly isn’t a whole lot of amusement in the melodramatic distrust of Helen & Thelma Lou, but watching Barney rope Andy into uncomfortable situations and seeing them try to wiggle themselves out of trouble with their girlfriends is comic gold.

 

 

113   The New Doctor                   (S1E24)

Persuaded by Barney just a bit, Andy feels threatened by the new town doctor’s friendship with Ellie…so much so that he proposes. As it turns out the doc is engaged himself. Andy & Ellie mutually agree to take their relationship slow, which is good since a few months later Ellie disappears from Mayberry, never to be heard from again.

 

 

 

112   Opie’s Newspaper    (S5E26)

Opie & one of his buddies decide to publish their own little newspaper…a very enterprising idea for two young boys. Unfortunately they fill the thing opieup with town gossip that they overhear while going around spying on people. Not surprisingly several folks become quite upset and it’s up to Andy to set things straight. There is a bit of unintentional foreshadowing here, as in the 1986 TV reunion movie Return to Mayberry Opie Taylor is indeed the editor of the town newspaper.

 

 

 

111   Mayberry Goes Hollywood                   (S1E13)

Mayberry is chosen as the backdrop for an upcoming movie so the whole town gets carried away with all the glamour. But when the Hollywood producer returns to town with his crew he is horrified at how phony everything & everyone has become, explaining that Mayberry was chosen as a location because of its idyllic charm and simple way of life. This is the first appearance of Howard McNear as Floyd Lawson after the character had been played by a different actor in the previous episode. Here he is referred to as Floyd Colby, though his surname was changed back to Lawson thereafter. This isn’t the only time people in Mayberry get a little goofy & overzealous. Sometimes it’s odd, but on occasion it’s rather funny.

 

 

110   Deputy Otis       (S2E31)

Much to Barney’s chagrin Andy makes Otis a temporary deputy to fool his visiting brother & sister-in-law, who are under the mistaken impression otis2that Otis has been in law enforcement for awhile. As it turns out the brother that Otis wants to impress is also a drunkard. I really enjoy Otis-centric episodes.

 

 

109   Ernest T. Bass Joins the Army            (S4E3)

Ernest T. Bass wants to join the Army simply to get a uniform and impress women, but when he’s rejected (because he’s a nut) he goes on one of his rock throwing rampages. Character actor Allan Melvin, who is probably best known as Sam the butcher on The Brady Bunch, makes one of his eight TAGS appearances, this time as an Army recruiter. Did I mention that I’ve never quite understood the popularity of the Ernest T. Bass character??

 

 

108   Goober and the Art of Love                 (S5E20)

Andy & Barney try to find a girl for Goober so he doesn’t have to tag along on their dates. Unfortunately Goober is even more inept with women than gooberhe is in other aspects of life. Barney tries to be his love guru, but of course that’s the blind leading the blind. This is the second appearance of Thelma Lou’s friend Lydia Crosswaite, an amusing Debbie Downer who Goober is sweet on. One thing I always notice about this episode is how Andy & Barney wear their suits and their girlfriends have on nice dresses…just to go to the movies. Oh how times have changed.

 

 

107   Barney on the Rebound              (S2E5)

Barney is immediately smitten with a beautiful newcomer to Mayberry. After an argument he & a jealous Thelma Lou break up and he gets involved with the new girl. Unfortunately for Deputy Fife things aren’t what they seem. The young lady’s “father” is portrayed by Jackie Coogan, who would begin another gig a few years later…as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family.

 

 

106   The Rehabilitation of Otis (S5E18)

When Otis gets so snockered that he rides a cow thru town believing it to be a horse…twice…Barney tries using pop psychology to rehabilitate him.otis3 Otis gets ticked off and decides he’ll do his drinking & jail time in Mt. Pilot from now on. Andy & Barney go and beg him to come back to Mayberry. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot that makes sense here, but it’s always enjoyable when Otis gets drunk. It’s odd that this is the one & only time that the powers-that-be decided that Otis had a serious problem and tried to help him. If he were on TV today he’d be in a 12 step program by the end of his first appearance.

 

 

105   The Merchant of Mayberry (S2E22)

Bert Miller is a downtrodden traveling salesman who’s tired of traveling, so Andy helps him stay in business by allowing him to set up a temporary storefront in town. Predictably this doesn’t please crusty department store owner Ben Weaver. The actor portraying Bert is better known as the original voice for animated Winnie the Pooh. The cantankerous character of Ben Weaver made a half dozen appearances on TAGS played by three different actors. This is the third & final appearance of the actor who originated the role. He passed on a short time after the episode aired.

 

 

104   Barney’s Replacement       (S2E2)

Barney becomes convinced that an attorney who’s been sent to Mayberry for law enforcement training is there to replace him, so he quits and starts selling vacuum cleaners. Barney resigns his position in a huff multiple times throughout his run, but he always comes back. It is said that after Season 1 Andy Griffith realized that Barney was the real comedic centerpiece of the show and the sheriff should be more of a straight man. This is a great example of that shift.

 

 

103   Irresistible Andy                  (S1E5)

After Andy asks Ellie to the church picnic/dance he overthinks the situation, talking himself into the notion that she is trying to rope him into ellie2marriage. In an effort to divert her attention Andy talks some other men in Mayberry into hitting on Ellie. The plan backfires terribly and Ellie becomes quite upset with Andy before he charms his way out of her doghouse. Anyone who thinks this twosome lacked chemistry…romantic & comedic…is crazy. This episode marks the debut of Barney’s infamous suit…”the ol’ salt & pepper”.

 

 

102   Opie’s Hobo Friend   (S2E6)

After Opie & Andy run onto a friendly drifter while going fishing Barney arrests the man for being a vagrant. hoboAndy’s a nice guy though so he lets the man go, after which he bonds with Opie. Unfortunately he is a bad influence on the boy, making things like ditching school, dodging responsibility, & stealing food seem like fun. Andy has a chat with the man, who manages to make Opie realize that maybe his lifestyle isn’t the best way to get along before catching a train out of town. The drifter is portrayed by Buddy Ebsen, who a year later would begin a decade long run as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. This is a particularly well-written, borderline dramatic episode.

 

 

101   Quiet Sam                   (S1E29)

Barney is suspicious of farmer Sam Becker so he coaxes Andy into checking out the situation. It turns out that Mr. Becker’s wife is very very pregnant and that’s why the man had seemed a bit on edge. Andy gets stuck at the Becker farm during a rainstorm and ends up delivering the baby. Barney’s overactive imagination & misguided reactions to situations are classic bedrock elements of the show.

 

 

 

 

This seems like a good place for another break. Stay tuned.