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Posts Tagged / Andy Griffith

  • Aug 22 / 2009
  • 0

Into the Sunset

One night in the summer of 1991, I woke up around 3 AM, couldn’t get back to sleep, and went out to the den and turned on the television. The only thing on was some bizarre cowboy movie. I’d come in about 15 or 20 minutes into the show and missed the set-up, so it took me a while to realize that I was being had.

Am I crazy, or is this really funny? That’s what I was asking myself, knowing all too well that things I’d taken for satire in the past (e.g., Sixty Minutes, The Poseidon Adventure, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos) had turned out to be schmaltz instead.

It was a send-up of the old western serials, the funniest horse opera spoof I’d ever seen — ten times funnier than Blazing Saddles. I was laughing so loud in the darkness in the den that I woke up my wife in the bedroom down the hall. She thought I’d gone mad.


Later, I told my younger brother about Rustlers’ Rhapsody and urged him to watch it. Eventually, he did and was nonplussed. I was stunned.

“But it’s a perfect parody of all the old cowboy shows,” I protested.

“I don’t remember a whole lot of cowboy shows,” he responded.

“But that’s all we watched when we were kids,” I insisted. “That’s all that was on.”

“You’re older than me,” he replied. “I remember cop shows mostly.”


He was right, of course. I was older than him, and still am. I was born in 1956, he in ’59. There were only three years between us, but three years in Television Time is a generation. By the time he’d reached the age of reason and maximum TV impact, the sheriffs had surrendered their six-shooters to the shamuses, and they in turn would pass the heat they were packing on to the spies, and the spies to the spacemen.

It’s not his fault. My poor brother is culturally deprived. He missed out on all the great old TV westerns. That’s why he can’t appreciate Rustlers’ Rhapsody.

  • Apr 25 / 2009
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The Worst TV Show Ever

I’ve been a fan of Dick Van Dyke  for as long as I can remember — and [whatever the opposite of a fan is] of his brother Jerry for almost as long. When he was young, Jerry would show up on his big brother’s show and I’d marvel at the similarity in their looks, and the dissimilarity in their talents. Then, somehow, Jerry got his own show — about a guy whose mother is reincarnated as an old car. What a concept! Inspired by Mr. Ed, no doubt. Granted, even Dick couldn’t salvage an idiotic premise like that, but, still, it was supremely lame.

Recently, I was watching an episode of The Andy Griffith Show with the family and who turns up as guest star but Jerry Van Dyke as a bumbling carny? The kids were surprised to learn that Dick Van Dyke had a brother. (They’re homeschooled and have never seen Coach. Neither have I, for that matter.) Like me at their age, they were unimpressed, but they wanted to know if he’d ever done anything else. Believe it or not, I told them, he was in a top-rated showmother not too long ago. They didn’t believe it, and it boggles my mind, too. But, I said, his greatest claim to fame, aside from being Dick Van Dyke’s brother, is that he was the star of “the worst TV show ever.”

What was it about? they asked. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, I said. Try us, they said. I tried them. They didn’t believe it. You’ve got to admit it’s hard to believe: a show about a guy whose mother is reincarnated — as a car. (Is that where the big idea came from? The fact that the word “car” is in the middle of “reincarnate”?) A talking horse is one thing, but a talking car? That’s plain stupid. Or, at least, it was, back then, before we all started hearing incarnated voices saying, “Your door is ajar.”

I wondered later if I’d been too harsh in describing it as the worst TV show ever. After all, I hadn’t seen it in years, not since it was originally on the air. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Maybe it was only one of the worst TV shows ever. But, just this morning, quite by accident, I happened upon My Mother the Car on YouTube and watched the first episode again. It turns out I was right. It really is the worst TV show ever.

  • Oct 26 / 2008
  • 0

Your Weekly Politickle

I never could see the appeal of Happy Days, but The Andy Griffith Show, in my opinion, was the single best television comedy ever broadcast. Sheriff Andy Taylor was my surrogate TV father when I was growing up (Laura Petrie my surrogate mom, from whom I became alienated when she metamorphosed into Mary Richards). Despite all the cracks about it being a show for seniors, I’ve been a big fan of Matlock since it first aired in 1986. And the great horse opera parody Rustler’s Rhapsody, with Griffith in a supporting role as an evil cattle baron, is one of my favorite movies. That’s why, when I saw the Obama endorsement that Ron Howard, in the guise of Opie and Richie Cunningham, put together with Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler, I wanted to vomit. Instead, I spit out this week’s Politickle:

“He’s compared to the Christ and to Gandhi,
He’s offered us all bags of candy,
But he got my vote when
The endorsements came in
From the Fonz, Richie, Opie, and Andy.”


“We’ll be summoned from slumberous state
To endorse the quadrennial slate;
Then it’s back to the grave,
Where we’ll try to behave
‘Til the conclave of 2008!”

The polls open and who comes in?
Mary Poppins and Mickey Finn,
Then Betty Boop
And Alley Oop,
Sherlock Holmes and Gunga Din!

What compares to the horrible fright
That will haunt us on Halloween night?
Consider the fear,
As elections draw near,
Ghoulish candidates soon will excite!

There once was a man named Vlad
Who was known for a habit he had:
With such pride in his nailing,
When he took to impaling
No one ever would challenge his chad.

Of the varied lay orders he scoured,
Opus Dei above others towered,
But the postulant was dopey
And espoused Deus Opie,
Unaware that they worshipped Ron Howard.

Last week’s limerick:

“I’m a master at deceivin’,
At wigglin’, wafflin’, weavin’;
And when I create
A socialist state,
You’ll have change you can believe in.”

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