TITLE: THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW - 50TH ANNIVERSARY: THE BEST OF MAYBERRY
Release Date: December 21, 2010 (CBS Home Entertainment)
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 17
Running Time: 429 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 130 minutes
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: English Subtitles
Special Features: "Return to Mayberry" movie; "Opening Night" clips; Episode Introductions; "The Andy Griffith Show" Pilot from "The Danny Thomas Show"; Original Sponsor Spots
Andy, Barney, Aunt Bee, Opie, and the rest are all fifty! And now they're together for a special 50th anniversary compilation of the best episodes of the classic series, The Andy Griffith Show, containing 17 of the best episodes of the series and a special feature! The Andy Griffith Show all began with an episode of The Danny Thomas Show in 1960 (included on this set) and ended up becoming not only one of TV's biggest series of the 60s, but continues to be a hit show in syndication to this day, airing nonstop in syndication. In this DVD set, we get to see what is truly the "best of" the series in order to celebrate fifty years of going down to the fishing hole!
The set includes the seventeen "best" episodes of the series, beginning with "The Christmas Story," when the town has to fight off a town Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Aunt Bee goes on a pickle-making spree in "The Pickle Story." In "Barney and the Choir," Barney joins the choir, but that isn't exactly a positive thing. Opie has a new friend that Andy doesn't believe exists in "Mr. McBeevee." In "Convicts at Large," Andy and Barney run into some female convicts in the woods who are up to no good. A man from Charlotte is stuck in Mayberry for the weekend in "Man in a Hurry," and is convinced that everything is wrong with the town, but can the Mayberry crew prove him wrong?
Andy and Barney throw a class reunion in "Class Reunion." A family of musicians from the mountains comes to stay in Mayberry in "The Darlings Are Coming." Barney learns to never trust a "little old lady" when he buys a lemon in "Barney's First Car." Barney and Opie let the courthouse go to the dogs in "Dogs, Dogs, Dogs." In "Mountain Wedding," the Darlings are back, and more problems are sure to arise in Mayberry. Opie is forced to raise a nest of birds in "Opie the Birdman." In "The Sermon for Today," the spirit of relaxation turns into more trouble than it is worth.
Gomer and Barney are at odds when Gomer arrests Barney in the famous episode "Citizen's Arrest." Helen and Thelma Lou want to prove that they, too, can be fun in "Fun Girls."
By and large, the episodes are unedited, some with original sponsor openings/closings/tags... but I do have some concern about two of them. First is the episode "The Darlings Are Coming," which only runs at 23:09. However, this is longer than the episode was on the season set, as this version contains an additional closing tag scene that was edited out of the previous release. So, that is a positive thing. Runtimes are as follows:
"The Christmas Story" (26:02)
"The Pickle Story" (27:07)
"Barney and the Choir" (27:06)
"Mr. McBeevee" (27:16)
"Convicts at Large" (26:44)
"Man in a Hurry" (26:53)
"Class Reunion" (27:08)
"The Darlings Are Coming" (23:09)
"Barney's First Car" (27:19)
"Dogs, Dogs, Dogs" (26:30)
"Mountain Wedding" (27:02)
"Opie the Birdman" (25:43)
"The Sermon for Today" (24:08)
"Citizen's Arrest" (25:02)
"Fun Girls" (25:47)
"Barney's Sidecar" (25:02)
"Goober and the Art of Love" (25:43)
The set uses a standard Viva case, but it comes in a cardboard sleeve much like sets in slim cases would come in. However, the artwork on both of these cases is exactly the same, and my guess is that after the initial pressing, the sets will be packaged without this slip sleeve on the outside. The cover art is very basic, with Opie and Andy standing in front of the "50" on the cover, and the back has some black and white cast photos. All of the episodes on the set are listed on the back, but a listing can also be found inside the case, along with original airdates and a brief description. The disc artwork simply has the series title and the 50th anniversary logo as seen on the cover with a gray background (standard for CBS Home Entertainment products). Discs 1 and 2 contain seven episodes each, while Disc 3 contains four episodes and "Return to Mayberry"
Menu Design and Navigation:
The set has a very basic menu, which essentially list lists all of the episodes on the main menu, along with options for Subtitles and Special Features. On the menus, Disc 1 contains a photo of Andy, Disc 2 contains a photo of Opie, and Disc 3 contains a photo of Barney. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters are placed in each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on this set is just as great as it was on the season sets that were previously released by Paramount/CBS DVD. There are a few artifacts to be found on the video and audio, but overall, it is excellent given the age of the series. Even the original sponsorship elements contained within the episodes are of high quality. While the set is not closed-captioned (as the season sets were), there are English subtitles available for the episodes and "Return to Mayberry."
The set contains many special features, but before I get into what is on here, let me mention the one thing that is sorely missing that SHOULD be on here... newly recorded interviews and/or commentaries. Not one single type of special feature of that sort is to be found on this set! It was bad enough that the season sets were lacking in these, but for a special 50th anniversary set to not include these is really unfortunate.
However, there are some nice special features on the set. To begin, there ARE introductions for every episode on the set with little fun facts and information about the episode. Unfortunately, these are on-screen text only, and not particularly insightful as they could be. Still, it is nice to have them. Disc 1 also has a brief introduction to the set, in a similar style.
Next, many of the episodes have the original sponsor opening and closing credits, along with the sponsor spot featuring the cast (either from Sanka or Post Cereals). While the cast spots were included on the season sets, they were accessible only by going through the special features menu, and watching them "outside" of the episode. This time, you can watch them WITHIN the episode as intended to be. Actually, that is the only way that you can watch it (they didn't put an option to watch the episodes without them). The episodes that include these are as follows:
"The Pickle Story"
"Barney and the Choir"
"Convicts at Large"
"Man in a Hurry"
"Barney's First Car"
"Dogs, Dogs, Dogs"
The set begins on Disc 1 with the pilot for the series from The Danny Thomas Show, "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" (27:18). This is where everything started, and we meet Andy as Danny Thomas gets pulled over for a traffic violation while traveling through Mayberry. I've seen this episode many times, but I've never seen it look as good as far as video and audio as it does here. It also includes the original sponsor opening and closing credits, and even the sponsor promotional spot. I would love to see that series finished on DVD, and done as well as it was on this set.
Next, we have a clip from "Opening Night 1962" (3:45), where we get to see Andy Griffith from the then annual CBS promotional show that promoted series for the upcoming season. These "Opening Night" segments have been included on other TV series sets, and they are always fun to see. Plus, this one looks better than the ones I have seen before. There is another clip from "Opening Night 1963" (2:00) featuring Andy and Don Knotts, along with Lucille Ball and Danny Thomas in the background, in a brief comic moment.
On Disc 3, "Fishin' Hole Montage" (2:07) is basically just Andy Griffith singing the lyrics to the theme song with a montage of photos from the series.
Finally, on Disc 3, we find what is perhaps the best special feature of all on this set... the movie "Return to Mayberry" (1:35:08). This is the reunion movie that aired on NBC in 1986 and reunited just about all of the entire surviving cast members. In this movie, Andy returns home to Mayberry to find that there just may be a new sheriff coming in the next election... Barney Fife!
If you have the Complete Series set of the series, you probably won't be all that interested in this set, but if you do not then this is worth getting just for the pilot episode and the Return to Mayberry movie alone. The only really strong point about this set besides that is the original sponsor opening and closing credits on certain episodes, and the reinsertion of the sponsor tags into the episodes. I'm not sure why they didn't do that on the season sets. This is also a great set for the casual fan of the series, as it truly does contain the best episodes of the series. I asked a few people who knew nothing about the set what their favorite episodes were, and just about every single response that I heard included episodes contained on this set. So at least they were in tune with what truly is the "best" of the series.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/13/10
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