The Andy Griffith Show was in black and white when it first debuted in 1960, but changing times demanded it eventually be shot in color. Mayberry fans prefer the black and white episodes so much that some reportedly turn the color of their tv off when a color episode airs. When one draws up memories of Mayberry, they’re likely in black and white. Still, the show had 249 episodes across 8 seasons, and 90 of them were in color.
It was actually season six of the series that began airing in color. This started with the very first episode of season six, titled “Opie’s Job” which dropped on September 13, 1965. Season six marked many other changes for The Andy Griffith Show. Some of them are significant enough to account for fan preference for the previous, black and white seasons.
Why do fans of The Andy Griffith Show prefer the black and white episodes?
Of course, the biggest change was that Don Knotts left to pursue film roles. Deputy Barney Fife was a break-out character, and Knotts’ chemistry was Griffith was lightning in a bottle. Jack Burns was cast as a replacement for Knotts, playing Deputy Warren Ferguson. Burns was a familiar face and talented comedian in his own right. He was the partner of George Carlin in the Burns & Carlin comedy team. Although it seems impossible to replace Knotts, Jack Burns at least looked good on paper.
However, Deputy Ferguson only lasted for eleven episodes before disappearing without explanation. After this departure, Andy Griffith had no one to play off. Sheriff Andy Taylor was a classic straight man and needed someone with a goofier persona to balance him. Even Gomer had left for his own show, which also started in black and white and transitioned to color.
Season Six marked shake-ups to Mayberry
Season sixth marked other changes in Mayberry besides color and a new deputy. The sixth season is notable for the final appearances of recurring characters Malcolm Merriweather (Bernard Fox) and Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris). Andy Griffith fans will also spot the first appearance of Jack Dodson in the episode “Lost and Found”. Dodson would later become a regular on the series and would transition with most of the supporting cast to Mayberry R.F.D.
However, some positive moments happen during the color era of The Andy Griffith Show. Future superstar Jack Nicolson makes two rare tv appearances on the show. He’s in the episode “Opie Finds a Baby” and “Aunt Bee, The Juror.” Don Knotts also makes a few award-winning guest appearances across the color seasons. Time away makes the comic energy between Knotts and Griffith really shine. Finally, for a fan of Mayberry, it’s just neat to be able to see the locations in vivid color.
The Andy Griffith Show can be seen on MeTV.