Ask SAM

Following last Saturday’s column about “The Andy Griffith Show,” we heard from several more readers with other questions about the show:

Q: Were Barney and Andy really related on the show? Once I heard Andy say they were cousins.

L.M.

Answer: According to Jim Clark, the “Presiding Goober Emeritus” of the Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club, “References are made to Andy and Barney being cousins in three of the first six episodes to air (“The New Housekeeper,” “The Manhunt” and “Runaway Kid.”) Making Andy and Barney cousins was a way to explain how someone as seemingly unqualified as Barney got to be deputy. It was also a device to get some easy laughs.

“Once the producers realized what a key character Barney was going to be — and once they had used the cousin joke about all they could for laughs — they dropped the cousin references, and the references evolved to Andy and Barney just being good friends since childhood.”

Q: What is the name of the episode when someone steps on Opie’s pet turtle?

N.W.

Answer: That wasn’t in “The Andy Griffith Show” itself, but it was referred to in an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” that introduced Andy Griffith in character as Sheriff Andy Taylor. The episode, appropriately titled “Danny Meets Andy Griffith,” has been included in some DVD releases of “Andy.”

Q: How come there was never a show when Andy Griffith and Helen Crump got married?

T.W.

Answer: There was, but it wasn’t part of “The Andy Griffith Show.” They got married in the first episode of the follow-up series “Mayberry R.F.D.,” in an episode titled “Andy and Helen Get Married.”

Don Knotts guest-starred in the episode, acting as Andy’s best man and causing a brief kerfuffle when he unintentionally coughs after the minister asks if anyone has an objection to the marriage, and again when he briefly loses the wedding ring.

Q: So unless I overlooked something, was the cause of death of Opie’s mother not mentioned?

J.S.

Answer: Correct. As with most widowed parents in 1960s sitcoms, only vague details were ever given. “In sitcoms, especially of that era, discussion of the details of the demise of a spouse or parent was kept to the bare minimum needed to adequately establish that a character was a widower or widow,” Clark said.

Sam Jones, the character played by Ken Berry in “Mayberry R.F.D.” was also a widower, but again no details were given about what happened to his wife. Other widowers in 1960s sitcoms included Jed Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Tom Corbett on “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” and Steve Douglas in “My Three Sons.”

For another example, the first episode of “The Brady Bunch” mentioned the death of Mike Brady’s first wife in passing but didn’t say what had happened. The fate of Carol’s first husband was also never revealed; series creator Sherwood Schwartz had intended for her to be divorced, but the network objected, since divorce was still largely a taboo subject at the time, and they compromised by not revealing whether she was widowed or divorced.

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