A Look at The Andy Griffith Show

There has been so much written about this show and the writing will never stop. It was a show about the quirky citizens in a fictional town called Mayberry. The Andy Griffith Show is not just another show. The series will be around long after we are gone and still being discovered by future generations.

Some of the love I have for the show is about escapism. The low pressure of living in Mayberry where you are allowed to live slow and friends are only a few miles away. Nowadays our lives are so full of technology and rush that it would be tempting to walk through the screen.

Mayberry was based on a small North Carolina town called Mount Airey where Andy grew up. Griffith has also said that although the show was in the sixties, Mayberry had a 1930s-1940s feel to it.

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were a great comedy team. I wish they would have made a few movies together. Knotts wanted to do that but Griffith always backed away from it. You can put them up there with other great comedy teams. Andy was a great straight man and Don played off of him so well.

I’ve seen parents play episodes to their kids for lessons, schools play episodes for students and heard of preachers writing sermons around episodes. The humor wasn’t dirty but it wasn’t sterile either. Most if not all of the first 5 season episodes are classics.

The show offered a little of everything… One of the things I liked was the bluegrass music of The Dillards who appeared on the show as the Darlings. Denver Pyle played Briscoe Darling Jr. and played the jug with the Dillards.

Seasons 1-5 were in Black and White with Don Knotts as Barney Fife. Don’s last season was the 5th season and seasons 6-8 were in color.  I have all of the Griffith Show episodes but I will admit…I don’t really watch the color episodes as much as the black and white ones. Yes, there are some good later episodes but it’s Andy. He walks around Mayberry like he is owed money. Andy later admitted on many of the later episodes he was going through the motions.

He started to get a little tenser on screen in the 5th season but Barney was still there and kept things light. In the 6th season with Barney gone, Andy acted impatient with his fellow odd citizens where at one time he enjoyed them.

It was one of the most successful television shows ever. The Series went out on top and had a successful spinoff called Mayberry RFD.

In the early 70s Mayberry RFD and other shows such as  The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Mister Ed, Lassie, Petticoat Junction, and Hee Haw were canceled because of the rural purge the network did… everything that had a tree got canceled it seemed.

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A Novelty Song from the 70s – Wildwood Weed

I usually don’t post novelty songs but I grew up with this one.

This song made me laugh as a kid. It’s about as corny as you can get but fun all the same. Jim Stafford had some novelty hits. His prime was 1973-1974. I had in my possession (from my sister) three of his hits. The Wildwood Weed, Swamp Witch, and his biggest hit “Spiders and Snakes.”

Jim has a sense of humor.

It didn’t take a genius to know what Wildwood Weed was about but the first time I heard it as an eight-year-old, an older neighbor had to tell me about it.

It made it to number 7 on the Billboard charts. It actually made it to #57 on the country charts which surprises me knowing how conservative country was at that time.

The song contains one of my favorite lines of all time. “Take a trip never leave the farm.” It’s about a bunch of country guys living on a farm and discovering pot…

Wildwood Weed
Jim Stafford

The wildwood flower grew wild on the farm,
And we never knowed what it was called.
Some said it was a flower and some said it was weed,
I never gave it much thought ……
One day I was out there talking to my brother,
Reached down for a weed to chew on,
Things got fuzzy and things got blurry,
And then everything was gone!
Didn’t know what happened,
But I knew it beat the hell out of sniffin’ burlap.

I come to and my brother was there,
And he said, What’s wrong with your eyes?
I said, I don’t know, I was chewing on a weed.
He said, Let me give it a try.
We spent the rest of that day and most of that night,
Trying to find my brother, Bill.
Caught up with him, ’bout six o’clock the next morning,
Naked, swinging on the wind mill!
He said he flew up there.
I had to fly up there and bring him down,
He was about half crazy …..

The very next day we picked a bunch of them weeds,
And put ’em in the sun to dry.
Then we mashed ’em up and chopped ’em up,
And put ’em in the corncob pipe.
Smokin’ that wildwood flower got to be a habit,
We didn’t see no harm.
We thought it was kind of handy,
Take a trip and never leave the farm!

All good things gotta come to an end,
And it’s the same with the wildwood weed.
One day this feller from Washington came by,
And he spied it and turned white as a sheet.
Then they dug and they burned,
And they burned and they dug,
And they killed all our cute little weeds.
Then they drove away,
We just smiled and waved ……….
Sittin’ there on that sack of seeds!

Y’all come back now, hear?

That Elusive 70’s House

As anyone who has read this blog knows, I like the 60s and 70s. I collect things from that era and even looked for a house in that era…I just didn’t know how many houses we would visit.

In 2004 my wife and I thought it was time to move from our starter home. We were learning to jump from the hall to living room to kitchen because we were getting crowded with our small home with a 4-year-old son, a mutt and a Saint Bernard running about.

We didn’t know what we wanted and were totally naive about house hunting. We only had so much money when we bought our starter home so it was easy…the second house we saw we bought. This time we had options and wanted to find our final house…THAT house…  We found an agent and she said: “I’ll show you 6 houses but you need to pick one of them and that will be it.” We didn’t like any of the houses she showed us that weekend.

We told the agent to forget it and started to freelance and ended up looking at 11 more by just going around and making appointments to visit houses. Ok, we are up to 17 now. But by this time we knew what we wanted. We wanted a 1970s style house…split level if possible.  An open floor plan with some land…and some room. My wife would not go for shag carpet (dang it) or an avocado refrigerator but she did like the older designs.

At the 18th house we looked at, we found an agent as crazy as we were named Naomi. She was new at being a real estate agent and said she would stick with us through the complete process. We kept going when we could and the number kept rising. I then got laid off my job in May of 2006…and it slowed us down but in July I was working again and the adventure continued.

Naomi could not understand why we would want an older house. She would try to dissuade us. She would try to slip in a new townhouse…we would arrive and say no…but she said she had to try. We looked in multiple counties to see if we could find what we wanted. We found nothing that was remotely close to my work.

We found many houses that we wanted. But it never failed that something would happen. The house would fail inspection, someone would beat us and sign first, at one house someone paid cash and got the house, or they would not take a contingent contract on our house selling…one time the owners changed their minds.

The total kept climbing but Naomi stayed with us…and we reached the 50s…We became really good friends with her and still are to this day. She still invites us over every year to her July 4th party. Namoi was learning with us and enjoyed looking at houses and actually started to appreciate the older houses.

Then it happened in 2007…We found a house (insert angels singing here)…the 55th house we looked at! We got there and drove down the driveway… I knew this was the one… the driveway was shadowed by the top of the trees hanging over it. It was an A-frame (with a 60s  vibe) with five bedrooms and surrounded by green everywhere…trees and woods…For some odd reason “Uncle John’s Band” kept playing in my mind. We got there and found out it was built in 1992. We were shocked… We thought it was older.

We talked to the man and wife who owned it. They were two public attorneys (Jim and Diane) and both were so nice. They talked with us a little and said the house was not on the market yet but Diane said we had good “Karma” …and if we wanted it…it was ours.

She bought the house when it was a 900 square foot A-frame on three acres. She then met her husband Jim and had a child…they built a wing and garage on one side…had more kids and built another wing on the other side. It is one of a kind with an open floor plan…and we bought it for under market value because they wanted to live near their work in Nashville and had already bought another house. They were offered more money by someone else but stuck with us…I was surprised but our “karma” must have won out. The inspection passed with flying colors…and nothing went wrong.

So we moved in…The Wife, the son, the Mutt and our Saint…and me of course…The irony of it all? We had searched all over for 3 years and even 60-100 miles away…and this house was 2 miles from where we were living. It’s hidden from the road and we had never laid our eyes on it.

After we bought the house Jim and Diane invited us to dinner at their new home. Turns out Jim knew Bob Jackson…if you don’t know Bob Jackson, he was in Badfinger right before Pete Ham passed away (see I tied pop culture into this). He had some interesting stories and they are great people.

The house has been a great investment…it’s climbed in value but we want to stay here till the end. I don’t have another search left in me…

By the way…We made it up to Naomi…we referred her to two of our friends who bought and sold their houses through her as the agent. She still calls us asking us if we want to go with her at times and visit houses. She said she misses going to see houses with us.

Since it wasn’t a seventies house I thought I would bring the seventies to it… the corner of my music room where I read.

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I still hear Uncle Johns Band when I come down my drive…it doesn’t get better than that

 

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

This is a 2010 comedy/horror movie. I just watched it 2 years ago on a recommendation from a co-worker. It is more comedy than horror. If you like dark humor combined with stupid humor you might like this movie.

It’s a parody on horror movies and the film goes over the normal cliches. Tucker and Dale are West Virginia mountain men that bought a cabin in the woods and are excited for their “vacation cottage.” It is an old beat up cabin but they plan to fix it up.

They meet some college kids that are staying near them and the kids think Tucker and Dale are killers. You have sympathy for Tucker and Dale right away. They are nice guys just happy to have their cabin. Tucker is trying to teach Dale with his limited knowledge on women and how to be social.

The movie surprised me and I really liked it. The director is Eli Craig, Sally Field’s second son.

If you are looking for another Gone With The Wind…this is not it but if you are in a mood for a stupid comedy/horror that is funny…give it a try.

This review is from Screen Rant.

https://screenrant.com/tucker-and-dale-vs-evil-reviews/

 

 

 

 

The Bob Newhart Show

Probably my personal favorite sitcom of the seventies. It would not be rated as the best by many people or critics…I just like Newhart’s dry sense of humor. Bob Newhart also was in a sitcom in the 80’s called “Newhart”  that was set in Vermont that sometimes people confuse with this show.

This show was set in Chicago with Bob playing psychologist Bob Hartley. He lived with his wife Emily Hartley in an apartment complex. He worked in an office building with a receptionist named Carol and an Orthodontist name Jerry. There is also a neighbor named Howard Borden…who sometimes can be just a little too out there (or dumb) but he is more like Bob and Emily’s child at times.

The show ran from 1972 – 1978 with 142 episodes. It was never a Nielson Rating giant despite following the Mary Tyler Moore Show but it was in the top 20 in it’s first few years.

A college drinking game originated from this show. Every time you heard “Hi Bob” you would consume alcohol…sounds like a better time than Yahtzee.

The show’s plot takes place usually in three different places. Bob at home with Emily, Bob with his patients, and Bob with Carol and Jerry. Elliot Carlin was a patient of Bob’s and the most pessimistic character I ever saw on a sitcom. He thought the worse of people and himself and often would puncture Bob’s optimism.

This show was part of CBS’s Super Saturday night lineup that featured All In The Family, The Jeffersons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and then The Carol Burnett Show. All of those shows are remembered today.

It is a smartly written sitcom…the two episodes I would recommend is “Motel” in season 2 episode 2 and the classic episode “Over the River and through the Woods” season 4 episode 11.

If you like a dry sense of humor this show is for you. Some trivia about the show, the bedspread, and sheets in Bob and Emily’s bedroom were designed by Suzanne Pleshette. She designed bedding for JP Stevens Utica brand.

The cast was

Bob Newhart – Bob Hartley

Suzanne Pleshette – Emily Hartley

Bill Daily – Howard Borden

Marcia Wallace – Carol Kester

Peter Bonerz – Jerry Robinson

Jack Riley – Elliot Carlin

Below is a great description of the show

https://tv.avclub.com/the-bob-newhart-show-has-aged-gracefully-1798180611

The Bob Newhart Show might be the driest American sitcom to ever attain anything like major success. While the show was buoyed by running after The Mary Tyler Moore Show for much of its run, making it more of a beneficiary of a good time slot than a breakout hit, in some ways, Bob Newhart has aged even better than that series. Mary Tyler Moore was more historically important, but the center of the show is the uneasy tension arising from the increased entry of women into the workplace in the ’60s and ’70s, which gives the series a certain quaintness in 2014. Bob Newhart—produced by MTM Enterprises, the studio behind Mary Tyler Moore—is about the perils of trying to lead a mentally sound and fulfilling life in the morass of modern society. It’s a subject that will never go out of fashion—even if the series’ ’70s trappings and outfits seem occasionally ridiculous.

The Bob Newhart Show has gotten even more modern in tone with the passage of time, an unusual trick for a TV show. The complete series, collected on DVD for the first time by Shout Factory recently, centers on the home and work lives of Dr. Bob Hartley (Newhart), a Chicago psychologist whose life is rigidly defined by dealing with his patients—both individually and in the group therapy sessions that became a famous source of jokes for the show. The personalities at his office—orthodontist Jerry (Peter Bonerz) and their receptionist, Carol (Marcia Wallace)—are rarely the draw for the show, but they’re perfectly fine as foils both for Bob and his patients.

It’s on the other side of the series that the show crackles to life. When Bob goes home, he arrives to his wife, Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), and the relationship between the two is the thing about the show that most feels like something no network executive would ever greenlight today. The two are deeply in love, and reading between the lines of their dialogue also reveals they’re having lots of sex. But the show codes their conversation as their sex, taking a tip from the great screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s. There’s nothing they love so much as ribbing each other with jokes that would be acidic in lesser hands but feel affectionate coming from the mouths of Newhart and Pleshette. What’s more, the two don’t have children and rarely discuss having them. This was because Newhart didn’t want the show to turn into one where he played off of cute kids, but it played as quietly revolutionary at the time and even more so now. The Hartleys are eternally childless, finding their fulfillment in their professional lives and each other, building a marriage that’s more about finding a solid partner to navigate life with than anything else.

The Bob Newhart Show is also notable for breaking down into three rough eras of two seasons each. Where many other sitcoms of this era (the best ever for American sitcoms) were shepherded by a handful of the same producers from start to finish, Bob Newhart began life as a sort of drier, chillier riff on Mary Tyler Moore, under the tutelage of Lorenzo Music and David Davis. This version of the show, its weakest but still an enjoyable one, ran for the first two years, before spending the next two seasons with Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses working first as head writers, then as showrunners. Tarses’ darkly misanthropic streak and lack of love for the sitcom form blended well with a show about psychoanalysis, and the series became one of the darker sitcoms in TV history. By its fifth (and best) season, it was practically death-obsessed, with frequent riffs on suicide and serious psychological conditions. Yet these final two seasons (which gave some of the best TV writers in history their big break) also up an absurdist quality that was already in the show to quantities that hadn’t been seen in the sitcom since the heyday of Green Acres.

That absurdism also taught future writers who would work on shows starring Newhart a valuable lesson: Newhart, in and of himself, is not the driver of the story. He is, instead, the reactor, the modern man trapped in an absurd system and forced to remark quietly on how bizarre it is. Despite being deliberately low-concept, The Bob Newhart Show is one of the weirdest sitcoms in history, especially as it goes on. Even the characters who seem to be the most traditional sitcom types, like Bill Daily’s Howard Borden, go beyond what they initially seem to be (in Howard’s case, a generic dumb guy) and take on a specificity that other shows would avoid. Howard, for instance, is a navigator for an airline, who has terrible luck in love and a tendency to spiral blame for things he’s done wrong outward at others. What seemed like a generic riff on Mary’s Ted Baxter early in the show’s run becomes something else entirely—not a buffoon but, rather, a man limited by his own perceptions.

All of this reaches its apex in the show’s best character, Jack Riley’s Elliot Carlin, one of Bob’s patients and an almost perfect foil for Dr. Hartley, his dark, dour demeanor acting like a funhouse-mirror version of his therapist. The scenes between the two can feel like minimalist one-act plays at times, with Newhart and Riley bouncing off of each other in barely varying monotones that take on the vibe of complex business negotiations disguised as therapy sessions. In Carlin and Hartley, the show found two very similar men who looked at the dehumanizing state of American society of the ’70s and chose wildly different reactions. Hartley, an optimist, chose to believe people could improve themselves; Carlin, a pessimist, was pretty sure they never would. The genius of The Bob Newhart Show was how it knew Carlin was right but admired Bob Hartley for trying anyway.

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Duck Soup

This was the fifth and last movie The Marx Brothers made for Paramount. In the other Paramount movies, Groucho is usually put in a position of power. Hotel manager, Explorer, the Dean of a college but in this one he actually runs a country.

While Groucho who plays Rufus T. Firefly is president of Freedonia, Harpo and Chico play Pinky and Chicolini who are spies for a rival country named Sylvania. Freedonia is near bankruptcy and Sylvania trying to take it over. Rufus declares war and manages to get Pinky and Chicolini on Freedonia’s side.

In later MGM movies, The Marx Brothers were sympathetic figures. In this film, they were the definition of anarchy. The Brother’s irreverence is raised many notches in this movie than any other they did.

The film did not do great at the box office in 1933…but has since become a classic. Personally, I like the Paramount movies the best. Their most successful movie was “A Night At The Opera” which was their first at MGM and it was produced by Irving Thalberg. Yes, it had more of a plot and the Brothers were great but were a bit tamer.

Margaret Dumont is brilliant as always as Groucho’s straight “man.”

If you want a great comedy watch this movie…you may even find out the answer to the burning question of “what is it that has four pair of pants, lives in Philadelphia, and it never rains but it pours?”…. well maybe you won’t…but watch it anyway.

Trying to explain the plot is almost like trying to describe in detail about a bomb exploding. In the Paramount movies, the plot was secondary to the Brothers running rampant.

Things were not great in the world while they were filming this movie. Below Harpo talks about working on the movie.

Harpo from “Harpo Speaks” about working on Duck Soup.

Acting in Duck Soup, our last picture for Paramount, was the hardest job I ever did. It was the only time I can remember that I worried about turning in a bad performance. The trouble was not with the working hours, the script, the director, or the falls I had to take (I never used a stunt man or a double). The trouble was Adolf Hitler. His speeches were being rebroadcast in America. Somebody had a radio on the set, and twice we suspended shooting to listen to him scream. Hindenburg had died. Hitler was now absolute dictator of Germany. He threatened to scrap the Versailles Treaty and create a German navy and air force. He threatened to grab off Austria and part of Czechoslovakia. He threatened to go beyond the boycott and revoke the citizenship of all Jews.
I never knew until then what the emotion of pure anger was like, how it felt to be sore enough to want to hit somebody in cold blood. A lot of people I knew were shocked that I was so shocked. Nothing would really come of the dictator’s threats, they said. He was all bluff and hot air. His act was nothing more than a bad imitation of that other comic, Mussolini.

The Gong Show

Only in the seventies could this show happen. It was like amateur hour at a high school with celebrities judging the event for laughs. This show was so bad it was good. That is the heart of the show…so bad it’s good… If an act was bad…which many were the judges would bang a gong to show their dislike.

The winner would win $516.32… union scale at the time.

Chuck Barris was the emcee of this grand extravaganza. Some of the acts judged were bad and they knew it and tried to be worse, some really thought they were good but were bad and a very few were actually good.

Some talented people were on the show at different times. Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), Steve Martin, Cheryl Lynn, and more.

The judges included  Jamie Farr, Jaye P Morgan, Arte Johnson, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller and Anson Williams. Jaye P. Morgan was fired off the show for flashing the audience…and camera.

The two things I remember most about it was a stagehand that would dance called Gene Gene, the Dancing Machine, and The popsicle twins. How the censors let the Popsicle Twins get through I don’t know… they were shown on the east coast but their segment never made it to the west coast.

The Gong Show was finally cancelled because the rumour was that NBC warned Barris to tone down the racy elements of the show…he never did. In the last show, Barris played in a country band called the “Hollywood Cowboys” and sang a modified Johnny Paycheck song “Take this job and shove it” and gave NBC the finger.

When you think back on shows you watched when you were younger and you get a chance to watch them now…it’s usually different than you remembered…not this one. This one is exactly how I remembered.