On October 3, 1985, Mayberry celebrated a milestone. The Andy Griffith Show Silver Anniversary Special aired on TBS, looking back at the beloved sitcom on its 25th birthday.
Don Knotts hosted the special. “What made The Andy Griffith Show such a hit was the characters,” the Barney Fife actor declared in his introduction. “These are real people who cared about each other.”
Knotts then presented the series “best episodes,” as chosen by the members of the cast. It gave fans a fascinating glimpse into the actors’ favorites, were not necessarily showcases for their particular characters.
With The Andy Griffith Show celebrating its 60th anniversary, let’s look back at the favorite episodes of the stars themselves. Which is your favorite?
1. Andy Griffith: “Barney’s First Car”
We begin with the man himself, the eponymous star of the show. To underline his longtime friendship with Don Knotts, Griffith picked an episode the truly showcased the comedic skills of his sidekick. The deputy has $300 burning a hole in his pockets, which he spends on a 1954 Ford sedan. The used car is a lemon, purchased from the widow “Hubcaps” Lesh (Ellen Corby from The Waltons). Griffith was not alone in cherishing this tale — the Writer’s Guild of America granted the writers, Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, an award for best writing in a comedy or variety series.
2. Don Knotts: “The Pickle Story”
“[‘The Pickle Story’] shows just how much Andy and Barney are willing to go through to protect Aunt Bee’s feelings,” Knotts explained. In this case, that means ingesting her disgusting pickles. Fans agree with Knotts. The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club voted this episode as its all-time favorite.
3. Frances Bavier: “Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee”
Here is another episode about food and the sacrifices of friendship. Aunt Bee believes that she is holding back Andy’s love life, so she attempts to kindle a romance of her own in the hopes she can move out. She pretends to fall for the rather insufferable local dry cleaner, H. Fred Goss. But she can not keep up the charade.
4. Jim Nabors: “Citizen’s Arrest”
Nabor’s Gomer character features prominently in this tale, but it too remains largely a showcase for Don Knott’s comedic skills. Barney slaps Gomer with a $5 traffic ticket. Leaving the scene, Barney executes a U-turn, prompting Gomer to pull a citizen’s arrest. A stickler for the law, Barney jails himself and quits his job. Gomer stages a phony robbery at the gas station to get Barney back in the game…
5. George Lindsey: “Dinner at Eight”
What about Goober? Remember, the other Pyle did not become a prominent cast member until the color years. So it makes sense that Lindsey would select a later episode. With Opie and Aunt Bee out of the house, Andy looks forward to some welcome alone time. Of course, this being a small town, the sheriff ends up committed to three separate suppers… all of them spaghetti. Oh, and each home chef claims oregano to be the secret ingredient.
6. Ron Howard: “The Ball Game”
The reason Howard holds this moment from the show so close to his heart may surprise you. It’s because it’s based on a similar situation that happened to him and his dad. The episode centers on Andy Taylor serving as an umpire for Opie’s championship baseball game. Andy has reservations about serving as an umpire and showing favoritism, so he decides to play fair. However, the town turns against its own sheriff when he calls out his son at home plate, forcing the Mayberry Giants to lose. “That had happened to me and my dad,” Howard told Larry King in 2013. “He called me out at home on a ball game that was on my birthday. I couldn’t believe he called me out!”