The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Third Season Studio: Paramount Year: 1962-63 Rated: NR Length: 13 hours 28 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: Dolby Digital English 2.0 Mono Closed Captioned Special Features: Original Sponsor Spots Suggested Retail Price: $39.93 USD Release Date: August 16, 2005 The third season of The Andy Griffith Show features consistently good episodes, and the introduction of a new character. Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) makes his first appearance in season three. It’s hard to pick favorite episodes from this season, but here are some that stand out... In Mr. McBeevee, Opie tells Andy and Barney about his new friend who lives in the treetops and wears a silver hat. Andy and Barney believe that Opie’s friend is imaginary, and become concerned when he seems to use his “friend” as an excuse to lie. In The Cow Thief, Mayor Stoner brings in an outside investigator to solve the mystery of the missing cows. Andy, of course, has his own ideas about the crime. In The Loaded Goat, Cy Hudgins has a pet goat who will eat anything - including dynamite. This classic episode finds Andy and Barney trying to keep the “loaded” goat calm in a cell, when a “loaded” Otis demands his bed. In The Darlings Are Coming, a family of hillbilly musicians comes to town to await the arrival of their daughter’s fiancee. Great humor and music make this episode stand out. Unfortunately, this DVD set appears to contain a syndicated cut of this fine episode - the running time is considerably shorter than the other episodes, and there are inconsistencies with regard to the quality of the title sequence when compared to other episodes of the season. In Mountain Wedding, The Darlings return, asking Andy to come back to their home and stop Ernest T. Bass from pursuing recently married Charlene. Here is a list of the episodes and their running times: Mr. McBeevee - 25:24 Andy's Rich Girlfriend - 24:36 Andy and the New Mayor - 25:46 Andy and Opie, Bachelors - 25:41 The Cow Thief - 25:39 Barney Mends a Broken Heart - 24:34 Lawman Barney - 25:34 The Mayberry Band - 25:19 Floyd, The Gay Deceiver - 24:58 Opie's Rival - 25:15 Convicts-At-Large - 24:57 The Bed Jacket - 25:12 The Bank Job - 25:31 One-Punch Opie - 25:11 Barney and the Governor - 25:30 Man in a Hurry - 25:06 High Noon in Mayberry - 25:30 The Loaded Goat - 25:45 Class Reunion - 25:40 Rafe Hollister Sings - 25:35 Opie and the Spoiled Kid - 25:12 The Great Filling Station Robbery - 25:29 Andy Discovers America - 25:43 Aunt Bee's Medicine Man - 25:40 The Darlings Are Coming - 22:22 Andy's English Valet - 24:46 Barney's First Car - 25:49 The Rivals - 25:21 A Wife for Andy - 25:35 Dogs, Dogs, Dogs - 25:21 Mountain Wedding - 25:41 The Big House - 24:40 "The Darlings Are Coming" is the episode of concern. The title sequence on this episode is considerably darker and softer than the same sequence for all the other episodes. The title text also has a slightly different typeface and dropshadow. Once the episode begins, brightness values return almost to normal, and the image is only slightly softer than the other episodes. I'm not familiar enough with the episode to provide information on what may have been cut, but judging by the runtime, it is incomplete. I'll provide those facts, without speculation. The Transfers As with previous seasons on DVD, this is the best I’ve ever seen this show look. The elements used for the transfer were nearly pristine, with just a speck here and there. Considering these elements are over 40 years old, I’m very pleased by the quality. The picture is sharp, with an occasional soft scene here and there. There is an occasional hint of edge enhancement - but it is very slight and only occasionally visible. Contrast is excellent, overall, with solid black levels and good shadow detail. The sound is Dolby Digital Mono. There is some occasional mild hiss, especially noticeable in quieter passages. It is the only defect of note in the audio. The dialog is always crisp, clean and intelligible, and music sounds as you would expect for a monaural source of this age. Special Features Original Sponsor Spots for most episodes. Final Thoughts While it is disappointing that one of the better episodes of the season seems to have been delivered in syndicated form, it is the one black mark on an otherwise outstanding season set. With very good video and audio quality for a series some forty plus years old, and some extras in the form of sponsor spots, Paramount continues to treat this classic sitcom with the respect it deserves. One must assume, given the way the studio has treated this show to date, that there were element problems with “The Darlings Are Coming,” which is a possible explanation for the apparent edits and quality difference on the episode.