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George Lindsey’s Death Reminds Me How Great Griffith Show Was

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images/CBS

“The Andy Griffith Show’s” ranks are thinning. Actor George Lindsey, who portrayed the iconic character “Goober,” died Sunday at the age of 83. Now, for some–good friends of mine, included–”Goober” is hardly an iconic character. Yeah, I know people who cannot stand the show. But, for me, it was all part of growing up.

“The Andy Griffith Show” began its 8-season run in 1960–long before I was even an idea. And by the time I came along, the episodes were in color and Don Knotts was gone. Fans were starting to disperse.

But I don’t remember it from its original run. I couldn’t. What I remember is its long life in syndication, which continues today.

When I was a kid–and into my teenage years–”The Andy Griffith Show” aired in the afternoons just before dinner. And everyone in my family would watch it. My mother always made sure she had very little to do while it was on. It was one of the few shows everyone in the household agreed upon. That was some feat, I have to say.

I never got–not once–that it was an absurd, overstated portrayal of life in a rural small town. I never once thought that any character on the show was anything less than 100 percent authentic. Sure, Goober was awfully silly at times; Lindsey’s was easily the most cartoonish character of the bunch. But because he’d rein it in more often than you might realize and give a completely believable performance, I got all the other wacky stuff.

Same with Don Knotts.

Listen, the show simply did not work after Knotts left. I will get excoriated by some for what I’m about to say, but his acting in those five seasons he was there–he won an Emmy for every one of them–was brilliant. Barney Fife is one of the most thoroughly original creations in the history of television.

And then there was Andy Griffith, giving a deceptively terrific performance every single episode. Always understated. I guess he had to be, considering what was going on around him.

Yep, Griffith’s castmates continue to pass on. Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee, has been dead for 22 years. And the actors who brought life to all those great characters like Floyd the Barber and Otis the Town Drunk are long gone.

But the show still lives on. It’s still one of the best things on TV. If there are those who don’t understand why, that’s okay. To each his own.

I understand why.

And that’s all that matters to me.

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