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The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)

Andy-Griffith-Show-Season-1“Welcome to Mayberry” is a phrase my good friend Clint’s stepfather tells me every time I come to visit in Seymour, Indiana.  Mayberry has become synonymous with that comfy, cozy, charming lifestyle.  And it all derived from The Andy Griffith Show.  Its a show that was an iconic piece of American television and still plays through reruns to this day.  You know you can whistle the theme song (which in itself is a whistle) like its second nature.  I don’t know how familiar the youth of today is with the show, but for my generation and prior at least, its something that comes with your upbringing just like learning to ride a bike or something.

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Season 

The Andy Griffith Show tells the tale of a widowed sheriff in the small town of Mayberry, North Carolina.  His life isn’t without plenty of complications and excitement as he is accompanied by his sort of dimwitty deputy Barney Fife, his aunt Bee and his son Opie.  The town of Mayberry is also filled with colorful characters, including the barber Floyd, town drunk Otis and Andy’s cousins Gomer and Goober Pyle.

The Andy Griffith Show is a portal to a much simpler time in television life.  The trials and tribulations of this show would likely not fly a lot today as they are too simple.  Most of the plots can be set up to present some sort of life lesson toward the episode’s end.  And a lot of complex problems are solved with some sort of life lesson that just up and solves all and is forgotten by the next week.  Its a very sweet approach and very charming, not at all offensive, but we just know in today’s climate things wouldn’t work so easily or quickly.

Coming out of the Andy Griffith Show, Don Knotts became sort of a superstar with his comedy and landed himself a healthy career following his iconic character of Barney Fife (he won 5 Emmys for this role).  He and Andy Griffith found really steady TV careers over the years.  Biggest of them may have been Ron Howard, who wound up finding some big roles post-Griffith and then becoming and Academy Award winning and prestigious director.  One thing I think that’s great is I look at the character names and growing up these were all almost household names at one point.  That’s how popular this show was.

The show ran for 8 seasons and never placed out of the top 10 during its run.  It got to exit on its own terms pretty much.  In its final season on TV it was first place.  And man, looking at those numbers it’d be CRAZY to see a show EVER get those again.  The show also produced many spinoffs and follow up shows due to popularity.  It has also been a staple of being a show popularized in syndicated reruns as well.

In this first season you already get everything you love about the show.  It may be an older format and storytelling, but it can’t help but charm you and make you feel sort of young again.  While its a part of the 60s, its heart is in the 50s.  Things feel so innocent and simple back then.  Its a nice little trip back to what once was.

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Episode Listing

“The New Housekeeper”

“The Manhunt”

“Guitar Player”

“Ellie Comes To Town”

“Irresistible Andy”

“Runaway Kid”

“Andy The Matchmaker”

“Opie’s Charity”

“A Feud Is A Feud”

“Ellie For Council”

“Christmas Story”

“Stranger In Town”

“Mayberry Goes To Hollywood”

“The Horse Trader”

“Those Gossipin’ Men”

“The Beauty Contest”

“Alcohol And Old Lace”

“Andy The Marriage Counselor”

“Mayberry On Record”

“Andy Saves Barney’s Morale”

“Andy And The Gentleman Crook”

“Cyrano Andy”

“Andy and Opie, Housekeepers”

“The New Doctor”

“A Plaque For Mayberry”

“The Inspector”

“Ellie Saves A Female”

“Andy Forecloses”

“Quiet Sam”

“Barney Gets His Man”

“The Guitar Player Returns”

“Bringing Up Opie”

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:33:1

Clarity/Detail: For what this is, I’d say its outstanding.  More probably could have been done, but this looks great.  Detail is so apparent that there is now a charm where you can tell how “costume-y” the clothing is and the sets look even more like sets as high detail now makes shortcomings more apparent.  Impressive is the detail on facial features and fabrics as its just astonishing what we can see now that we never had before when watching the show.  In stock shots and video sequences that are used repeatedly the image does get a little rough, but they’re of little consequence to the episode at hand.

Depth: Depth is rather average, though for when this TV show was made, there are some impressive indoor sequences relative to the jail cell on the set and character in and out interacting.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich and help to define some sharpness of the picture.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: There is light dirt specs, streaks and some flickering that occurs throughout but not distracting.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 LPCM

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: It is what it is.  Luckily the dialogue sounds pretty good.  The score has some analog hissing and popping to it, but the volume is at an ideal level that it fits comfortably.  Like the video in reused material (like the opening titles) the audio is a bit rougher in those areas.  The meat of the episodes however, play just fine.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean, clear, loud and up front.

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Extras 

This season is spread across 4 discs.  Each disc contains “Original Sponsor Materials”.  These are commercials for products that played during the individual episode.  They are definitely the sign of the times and quite a treat if you’re interested.

Disc 1

“Danny Meets Andy Griffith” From “The Danny Thomas Show” Season 7 (HD, 27:20) – This an episode of a television that originally introduced the character of Andy before The Andy Griffith Show launched.

The Howards’ On-Set Movies (HD, 8:36) – Home movies that Ron Howard’s parents shot to document his work on the show.  This gives also a rare glimpse of what the set and costuming looked like in color.

Disc 4

Return to Mayberry Television Movie (HD, 1:35:26) – The 1986 reunion television movie for the show.  In its entirety.  Also has LPCM 2.0 audio.

“Person to Person” Interview with Andy Griffith (HD, 13:05) – A sit down interview with Andy Griffith and his wife from 1957

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Summary 

It seems sort of a steep price for this, but something like The Andy Griffith Show has become a nostalgic and niche item no matter how iconic its stature.  And with this set I do think you’re getting every penny’s worth.  Its not like a TV show now, you’ve got a crap load of episodes that look pretty wonderful in HD.  You also get the full on reunion movie as well as vintage interviews and I LOOOVE those Sponsor Ads that they included.  I say its a recommend if you’re a fan of old televisions like this or like to harken back to a simple times.  This show will definitely have you feeling warm for those much simpler times.  Its part of its charm in the modern era.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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