Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don Knotts 1924 - 2006

Well, what can be said that hasn't been said already. The man was a comic genius. And even though Knotts was from West Virginia, his character of Deputy Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show will always be one of North Carolina's favorite sons.

One of the best roles he had was this really nervous corporal in No Time for Sergeants (in which he appeared with future co-star Andy Griffith). It was like an early prototype character of Barney Fife. He also did quite a few movies for Disney and later on appeared for a few seasons on Three's Company.

Two things made the last few seasons of The Andy Griffith Show somewhat less stellar than the earlier ones: going from black-and-white to color, and losing Don Knotts after the fifth season. When the producers made the transition to color, it seriously affected the quality of the comedy. It was like they thought that since the show was getting "upgraded" that it should also become more sophisticated and "up-to-date". In the process they forgot that it was Mayberry's timeless charm that made so many people tune in. Of all the episodes that were made, I don't think any of the color ones are in my top ten list of favorites. And all of my favorites have Barney in them.

Because as Barney Fife, Don Knotts was the heart and soul of The Andy Griffith Show. He was the source of so much of the comedy and after he left, the producers tried to "farm out" the place he had to other characters, and it just didn't have the same charisma that Knotts brought to the show. Probably the best episodes that stick out in my mind that feature Barney are "The Loaded Goat" (maybe one of the funniest TV episodes ever), "Barney's Sidecar", and the one about Aunt Bea's pickles, that had Barney stopping every out-of-town car (including one from Nova Scotia) and giving them a free jar of Bea's "kerosene cucumbers". Classic, classic stuff.

Well, I don't know what else to say, but I'll close this post out with a little song from The Andy Griffith Show (sung to the tune of "My Darling Clementine)...

"Oh my Barney, Oh my Barney
Had a jail and couldn't lock it
Had one bullet for his pistol
Had to keep it in his pocket"