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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Andy Griffith Show: 50th Anniversary - The Best of Mayberry

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#1 of 17 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 10 2010 - 09:21 AM

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The Andy Griffith Show: 50th Anniversary – The Best of Mayberry
Directed by  Bob Sweeney et al

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1960-1965
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1  Running Time: 429 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles:  SDH


MSRP:  $ 24.99


Release Date: December 21, 2010

 Review Date: December 10, 2010



The Selection

5/5


The Andy Griffith Show must hold some kind of record for a television series: eight seasons on the air, ranked no lower than seventh during any individual season, and ending its eight year run as the number one show on television. Talk about going out on top! And watching the episodes from its first five prime years that have been collected in this 50th Anniversary set, one is struck by how deserved its popularity and acclaim are. The show is a miraculous blend of witty comedy, homespun humor, and touching interpersonal relationships which never cross the line into bathos. Its cast is one of the finest ever assembled for a television series with all of the actors etching indelible portraits of their individual characters. The programs have been in eternal syndication for decades, and yet no matter how many times one sees them, they never fail to raise a smile or bring a tear to the eye at appropriate moments.


Seventeen episodes have been selected for this anniversary tribute set, and if two or three aren’t among the all-time best episodes in the history of the show, they all certainly have earned high rankings in the hearts of Andy Griffith Show fans for many, many years. Yes, Aunt Bee’s (Frances Bavier) “kerosene cucumbers” are still losing the blue ribbon to Clara Johnson’s (Hope Summers) all spice-enriched pickles. Opie (Ron Howard) still brings home eye-opening stories about the wondrous Mr. McBeevee and takes on the job of nursing some orphaned songbirds. Gomer (Jim Nabors) continues to make his citizen’s arrest and complains about how “spidery” it looks underneath the old bandstand. Barney (Don Knotts) finds some fun girls for him and Andy (Andy Griffith) when they are on the outs with Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) and Helen (Anita Corsaut). The Darlings (the Dillards) still come to town playing their own custom bluegrass with Andy always the prime focus of Charlene’s (Margaret Ann Peterson) attentions. Barney still buys the old clunker for his first car and wreaks havoc on the town with a World War I motorcycle he begins using for highway patrols. These and more make the disc a go-to sampler for the best that Mayberry has to offer.


Of course, were I choosing the episodes, I could have done without so much of the Darlings (even if the second one introduced Howard Morris' memorable Ernest T. Bass) and instead substituted Opie’s bid for a track medal (“A Medal for Opie”). I might have omitted the overrunning of the sheriff’s office with dogs and in its place substituted a couple of Aunt Bee-oriented stories: “The Bed Jacket” or “Andy’s English Valet.” And the episode with Barney’s off-key singing in the choir (since later episodes show him to be able to sing harmony perfectly) might have given way in favor of Barney’s five year anniversary episode where new physical requirements put his job in jeopardy. But these are personal choices. The episodes selected for inclusion in this set are certainly among the highlights of the 249 available episodes of the series during its eight year run. Clearly the wisest decision made in choosing these episodes was in the lack of any of the shows from the program’s final three seasons filmed in color. With several key cast replacements that didn’t measure up to the original company, those shows have never contained the brimming mirth and lovable lunacy of the five black and white seasons.


Here are the episodes included in this set of three discs:


1 – The Christmas Story

2 – The Pickle Story

3 – Barney and the Choir

4 – Mr. McBeevee

5 – Convicts at Large

6 – Man in a Hurry

7 – Class Reunion

8 – The Darlings Are Coming

9 – Barney’s First Car

10 – Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

11 – Mountain Wedding

12 – Opie the Birdman

13 – The Sermon for Today

14 – Citizen’s Arrest

15 – Fun Girls

16 – Barney’s Sidecar

17 – Goober and the Art of Love



Video Quality

3.5/5


The programs have been framed at their original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Quality varies between episodes with some of them looking super sharp and loaded with detail with nicely applied contrast and appealing grayscale renderings. Others seem like older transfers or taken from less than ideal source material. Most are clean transfers with just occasional glimpses at dust specks, debris, or slight aliasing. Each episode has been divided into either 5 or 6 chapters.



Audio Quality

3/5


The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. Dialogue is nicely recorded for the most part (occasional ADR is very noticeable in spots) while music and sound effects are folded neatly into the mono mix. There is occasional light hiss to be heard with some of the episodes, but it’s never really intrusive.



Special Features

2.5/5


“Danny Meets Andy Griffith” is the 1959 episode of The Danny Thomas Show which introduced Andy Taylor, his son Opie, and other assorted characters of Mayberry. Frances Bavier plays a different character, Henrietta Perkins, and Frank Cady plays the town drunk instead of Hal Smith. But it’s a reasonably accurate prologue to the look and tone already being established for the series. It’s 27 ¼ minutes long in 4:3.


Many of the episodes feature the original main titles with sponsor credits and concluding commercials featuring cast members preceding the closing credits.


Each program is introduced with a text page of background information about the program and its impact on the entire series. There is a menu button that allows the viewer to read all of the program intros at once if he chooses.


“1962 Opening Night” features Andy Griffith doing a 3 ¾-minute monologue, this time telling the story of Christopher Columbus in his patented hillbilly style.


“Celebrating Fifty Years of Mayberry” is an essay on the show’s legacy spread over several text pages which the viewer can page through.


“1963 Opening Night” was obviously a CBS introduction to their new and returning comedy line-up with stars of the various shows talking a bit about their shows. Andy Griffith and Don Knotts do 2 minutes of shtick with CBS’ galaxy of comedy stars standing behind them (Danny Thomas, Phil Silvers, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny).


“The ‘Fishin’ Hole’ Montage” features Andy Griffith singing his show’s theme song to a montage of clips and stills from the show’s black and white years. It runs 2 ¼ minutes.


Return to Mayberry is the 1986 TV-movie which reunited many of the original stars of the series showing us the (then) current lives of some favorite characters many years after the original show aired. Andy, Barney, Helen, Thelma Lou, Opie, Gomer, Goober, Otis, Howard, the Darlings (with Briscoe and Charlene), and Ernest T. all make appearances. Picture quality is good (though there is a fair amount of aliasing with the image), and the sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo which is nicely above average. It runs 95 ¼ minutes in 4:3.


There are promo trailers for the CBS comedies, I Love Lucy, and the first season of Petticoat Junction.



In Conclusion

4.5/5 (not an average)


A one-of-a-kind television show gets the anniversary tribute treatment as The Andy Griffith Show celebrates its 50th birthday. The episodes are all prime comedy moments from the history of the series and are guaranteed to make you smile if not laugh out loud. The bonus material is welcome if not generous enough for the show’s milestone. Highly recommended!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 17 OFFLINE   Brent S

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Posted December 10 2010 - 09:57 AM


Originally Posted by MattH. 

“Danny Meets Andy Griffith” is the 1959 episode of The Danny Thomas Show which introduced Andy Taylor, his son Opie, and other assorted characters of Mayberry. Frances Bavier plays a different character, Henrietta Perkins, and Frank Cady plays the town drunk instead of Hal Smith. But it’s a reasonably accurate prologue to the look and tone already being established for the series. It’s 27 ¼ minutes long in 4:3.




At 27.25 minutes, can I assume that it is complete, with Will Wright's scene which is missing from the syndication cut Paramount used on the Complete Series set?



#3 of 17 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 10 2010 - 02:08 PM



Originally Posted by Brent S 


Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH. 

“Danny Meets Andy Griffith” is the 1959 episode of The Danny Thomas Show which introduced Andy Taylor, his son Opie, and other assorted characters of Mayberry. Frances Bavier plays a different character, Henrietta Perkins, and Frank Cady plays the town drunk instead of Hal Smith. But it’s a reasonably accurate prologue to the look and tone already being established for the series. It’s 27 ¼ minutes long in 4:3.




At 27.25 minutes, can I assume that it is complete, with Will Wright's scene which is missing from the syndication cut Paramount used on the Complete Series set?


Yes. Will Wright's scene is there.



#4 of 17 OFFLINE   Brent S

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Posted December 10 2010 - 03:16 PM

Follow-up question...


"The Darlings Are Coming" on TAGS' Season 3 set, and the Complete Series box set, was also a syndication cut, with the epilogue scene missing.  Has CBS/Paramount corrected this?


Many thanks for the review!



#5 of 17 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 11 2010 - 12:51 AM



Originally Posted by Brent S 

Follow-up question...


"The Darlings Are Coming" on TAGS' Season 3 set, and the Complete Series box set, was also a syndication cut, with the epilogue scene missing.  Has CBS/Paramount corrected this?


Many thanks for the review!


The last scene on this version has the Darlings and Andy singing "Cindy" after Briscoe suggests they sing "Keep Your Money in Your Shoe and It Won't Get Wet." Does that help?



#6 of 17 OFFLINE   Brent S

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Posted December 11 2010 - 05:06 AM


Originally Posted by MattH. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent S 
Follow-up question...


"The Darlings Are Coming" on TAGS' Season 3 set, and the Complete Series box set, was also a syndication cut, with the epilogue scene missing.  Has CBS/Paramount corrected this?


Many thanks for the review!


The last scene on this version has the Darlings and Andy singing "Cindy" after Briscoe suggests they sing "Keep Your Money in Your Shoe and It Won't Get Wet." Does that help?


Yes.  Paramount has provided the complete episode.  Thanks again!



#7 of 17 OFFLINE   Professor Echo

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Posted December 11 2010 - 08:16 AM



Originally Posted by MattH. 
The last scene on this version has the Darlings and Andy singing "Cindy" after Briscoe suggests they sing "Keep Your Money in Your Shoe and It Won't Get Wet."


"Not that one, Pa, it makes me cry."



#8 of 17 OFFLINE   Kipp Teague

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Posted December 22 2010 - 05:31 AM

How is the print quality for this episode ("The Darlings Are Coming")?   In the earlier Paramount DVD release, not only was this particular episode incomplete, but the transfer was very murky, and of considerably poorer quality than all other episodes, as the original master either could not be located or was damaged.   I am curious as to whether Paramount found a better quality print for this new release.  (?)



#9 of 17 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 22 2010 - 08:37 AM

I will be away from home most of this evening, Kipp, but before I walk out the door, I'll find the box set and place it on the table and try to check for you when I get back home. I don't remember the quality being significently different from the other episodes, but I'll be glad to refresh my memory and report once I get home.



#10 of 17 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 22 2010 - 03:12 PM

Kipp,

I did check on "The Darlings Are Comning" just now, and the quality is very, very good. I don't think you'll find it the least bit dark or murky.



#11 of 17 OFFLINE   Kipp Teague

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Posted December 22 2010 - 10:43 PM



Originally Posted by MattH. 

Kipp,

I did check on "The Darlings Are Coming" just now, and the quality is very, very good. I don't think you'll find it the least bit dark or murky.


Thank you Matt!    Paramount evidently found the proper master for the episode, so this is an upgrade from the series DVD set in this respect.



#12 of 17 OFFLINE   airportdean

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Posted December 25 2010 - 04:42 PM

Sure wish they would have included "Barney Mends a Broken Heart, that was the only other incomplete show on the complete series or season 3 sets.  Just the ending was cut.



#13 of 17 OFFLINE   airportdean

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Posted December 25 2010 - 05:06 PM

Just for fun, watch the opening of The Darlings are Coming, when Andy first walks up at the beginning, notice the microphone cord coming out from the bottom of his pants leg, didn't see too many of those bloopers in the show!!!!!!



#14 of 17 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted December 27 2010 - 02:32 AM



Originally Posted by MattH. 

Kipp,

I did check on "The Darlings Are Comning" just now, and the quality is very, very good. I don't think you'll find it the least bit dark or murky.


Does the episode show the Darlings singing "Salty Dog?"  I think that was cut from the original release.



#15 of 17 OFFLINE   Kipp Teague

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Posted December 27 2010 - 09:14 AM



Originally Posted by JoeDoakes 



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH. 

Kipp,

I did check on "The Darlings Are Coming" just now, and the quality is very, very good. I don't think you'll find it the least bit dark or murky.


Does the episode show the Darlings singing "Salty Dog?"  I think that was cut from the original release.


I have checked out the new DVD set now, and it's great that Paramount has found a superior print of this episode, and that the tag/epilogue scene is now present...however...the performance of "Salty Dog Blues" is STILL missing.    This song was the second one played in the jail cell.   Here is the missing scene for those of you who would like to see it, rescued from an ancient VHS tape:  



#16 of 17 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 27 2010 - 02:18 PM



Originally Posted by Kipp Teague 



Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeDoakes 



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH. 

Kipp,

I did check on "The Darlings Are Coming" just now, and the quality is very, very good. I don't think you'll find it the least bit dark or murky.


Does the episode show the Darlings singing "Salty Dog?"  I think that was cut from the original release.


I have checked out the new DVD set now, and it's great that Paramount has found a superior print of this episode, and that the tag/epilogue scene is now present...however...the performance of "Salty Dog Blues" is STILL missing.    This song was the second one played in the jail cell.   Here is the missing scene for those of you who would like to see it, rescued from an ancient VHS tape:  



Thanks for furnishing the answer to Ray's question, Kipp. I have been watching/reviewing Mannix for the last two days and just didn't have time to answer the question.



#17 of 17 OFFLINE   RowMan

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Posted January 09 2011 - 04:34 AM

A COMPLETE pilot and some other nice additions, but still flawed.


This is nice for all of us who bought the show season by season and weren't able to get the pilot episode and "Return To Mayberry" movie that was only offered in the complete boxed set. Aside from the episodes, some interesting little tidbits not included in any other DVD release of the series have been added.

Even nicer is the COMPLETE version of the pilot on this DVD set unlike the previous release by Paramount! It now includes the suit rental shop owner scene with Wil Wright, Andy's final speech on Danny's television show is extended, the epilogue is longer, and there is now a Maxwell House commercial with Andy and Danny right before the closing credits.

Season Three's "The Darlings Are Coming" is another episode that was edited on Paramount's previously released DVD. The 50th Anniversary disc contains a still edited, but different version. A Post Cereals commercial with Andy and Opie has been added just after the opening credits. Now only a line or two of dialogue has been snipped from Andy's first meeting with the Darlings (I believe more was cut from the previous release). A brief portion of the Darlings playing music just after they arrive in their hotel room is missing along with their performance of "Salty Dog" and the bit of dialogue just before. The epilogue showing Andy marrying Charlene and Dud just before the Darling family plays "Cindy" has been added.

Season Four's "The Sermon For Today" still loses its laugh track at the 18 minute mark of the program. The first DVD release of this episode contained no laugh track. Paramount treated this as a defect and replaced the DVDs with a "fixed" version, but this episode along with "A Black Day For Mayberry" (which does NOT appear on this 50th Anniversary set) still have incomplete laugh tracks.


Even with its flaws, this disc set is a "must buy" for hardcore Andy Griffith Show fans. Especially those who bought the individual seasons as opposed to the complete series boxed set.




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