DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004 (Paramount Home Video)
black & white, approx. 15 hours, 15 minutes
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 32
Language and Subtitles: English, closed captioning available
Special Features: None
Well, now, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole. Down-home humor and an endearing
cast of characters helped to make The Andy Griffith Show one of the most beloved comedies in the history
of television. Introduced as a spinoff from The Danny Thomas Show in 1960, The Andy Griffith Show ran
for eight seasons in prime time. Widower Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) divides his time between raising his young
son, Opie (Ron Howard), and his job as sheriff (and Justice of the Peace) of the sleepy North Carolina
town, Mayberry. Andy and Opie live with Andy's Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), who serves as a surrogate
mother to both father and son. Andy's nervious cousin, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), is his deputy sheriff
whose utter incompetence is tolerated because Mayberry is virtually crime-free.
The Andy Griffith Show premiered on October 3, 1960 and became an instant hit.
From 1960-1968, 249 episodes were produced - 149 in black & white and 90 in color.
The show would never leave the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings
and is one of 3 series to leave the air while still #1 (I Love Lucy and Seinfeld are the others).
Don Knotts would win 5 Emmys as bumbling Barney Fire and Frances Bavier would win
in 1967 as the lovable Aunt Bee. The series has remained popular with numerous fan clubs across the country
and multiple reunion tv specials.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Although some fans believe the show really didn't start to be great until the second
season, there were some memorable episodes in season one. In "The New Housekeeper,"
Aunt Bee comes to live with Andy and Opie, but her presence causes friction with Opie.
Andy and Barney try and help track down an escaped convict in "The Manhunt."
A gifted guitar player who has self-doubts about his musical talent gets a chance at stardom -
with a little push from Andy in "The Guitar Player." A friend of Opie is planning to run away
from home in "Runaway Kid." The series only Christmas episode, "Christmas Story,"
aired in the first season. Mayberry's famed hometown musician - Jim Lindsey - returns
for a visit with a new car and fancy clothes in "The Guitar Player Returns." The show
did not have a lot of big name guest stars during the first season. Instead, some recurring
characters were introduced including Elinor Donahue as Ellie Walker, Howard McNear
as Floyd Lawson, Hal Smith as Otis Campbell, and Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou.
All 32 episodes from the first season (1960-61) are included in this 4-disc set.
The colorful DVD cover art features a nice photo of Andy and Opie fishing at the lake.
The back of the box gives a short summary of the show in a badge shaped design, and
also features a photo of Andy and Opie walking as well as small circular photos of Aunt Bee
and Barney. There are 4 slim cases that slide out from the outer box. Sepia-colored
photos are featured on the front of each slim case. On the back of each case, the episode
titles are given on what is designed to look like Andy's sheriff stationery. There
are some coffee stains on them, with little notes from Barney, Opie, and Andy. The inside
of the cases list the episodes, with short summaries and the original air date along
with a single photo of a different cast member in each case. When you lift up the disc,
there is a Mayberry Fun Fact listed. The actual discs look very nice, with the same photo
that is on each slimcase shown with a blue border on the outer edge. Disc 1 pictures
Andy, Opie, and Aunt Bee and contains episodes 1-8. Disc 2 has a photo of Andy and Opie
with their hands on their chin and contains episodes 9-16. Disc 3 has a photo
of Andy, Barney (with a cowboy hat), and Opie and offers episodes 17-24. Disc 4 has
a photo of Andy and Opie and has episodes 25-32.
Menu Design and Navigation:
There is a single, simple menu on each disc. Each menu has a different photo
with the show logo in red. The episode titles are listed vertically, and there is
a red badge next to your selection, which turns green when you choose the episode. There
is a Play All button and chapter stops within the episodes but no sub scene selection menus.
Disc 1 has the same photo as the DVD cover art, disc 2 has a photo of Andy and Opie walking with a fishing pole,
disc 3 features Aunt Bea, and disc 4 has Barney in a classic pose.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality of this set is great. Paramount has done an excellent
job remastering and restoring these episodes to the best possible condition. Previous
DVD releases, by companies you probably have not heard of, have featured very poor quality episodes
that were sometimes edited and often didn't even include the original opening credits.
The episodes that were previously released were in public domain, and there was a separate
copyright for the theme music. All of the episodes in this complete first season set
from Paramount feature the original opening theme credits and appear to be unedited,
running from 25-26 minutes each and include the prized epilogues. The prints used for these DVDs are certainly much better
then what you have seen on cable TV over the years. For the closing logo enthusiasts,
there is an old black and white CBS Television Network logo that is shown before a more
recent Paramount logo.
The only thing lacking in this set are any extras. There are no cast interviews,
episode commentaries, or any original commercials. Episodes during the first season and
some later seasons would feature a one-minute commercial for the shows sponsors such as Sanka Coffee
or Post cereals in which the cast would work a plug for the sponsors product into
the storyline of that weeks episode. These would be fun to see as a bonus feature. There
have also been several reunion TV specials that would be great to see released on DVD, but Paramount
might not own the rights to them.
Fans have waited a long time for a full season of The Andy Griffith Show to be released on
DVD. Although there are no extras on this set, the fact that the episodes are unedited
and of excellent quality should make up for it. I've been a big fan of Ron Howard and
especially Happy Days for many years, but I've honestly never seen very many complete episodes
of TAGS - only bits and pieces here and there. Paramount reportedly will be releasing
more seasons of the show in 2005 at a more rapid pace. I look forward to being able
to catch up on this series which is considered by many to be one of the best comedies
of all time. They certainly don't make family comedies like they used to.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Video Quality: 4.3/5
Audio Quality: 4.1/5
Special Features: N/A
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5