notes on government, sports and popular culture
.....N.Y. Times' Virginia Heffernan on the late, great Don Knotts
"Actors who worked with him almost universally deferred to him as the comic grandmaster, yet his characters were not jokers but the butts of jokes. He was absolutely flappable. No one had a better tremor or double-take, and with his unmistakable homeliness — bulging eyes, receding chin, stooped shoulders, broad hips — he didn't bother to play the fool; he wisely stuck to just the fool."
What I find amazing about the artistry of "The Andy Griffith Show" is the way Knotts and Andy Griffith mastered the subtleties of rural humor after it became decidedly uncool to be a redneck.
If you watch enough episodes of Andy, you begin to notice this subtlety. So while we're celebrating Citizen's Arrest and The Loaded Goat, I'll offer a couple of my favorite line from Barney Fife.
In an early episode, when Andy is dating Ellie the druggist, a handsome young doctor moves into town. Barney's concerned that he's moving into Andy's turf, so he goes in for an undercover physical to get the scoop. The scoop is, just as Barney feared, the doctor's not married.
"Why, I don't think I ever heard of a doctor that wasn't married," Barney replied.
Then there's the motorcycle (with sidecar) episode, where Barney once again becomes the laughingstock of Mayberry. Even Andy expresses doubt about the motorcycle's value.
"Now Andy, I can expect that type of reaction from them ignorant laypeople, but not from you," Barney replies.
Goodbye to arguably the greatest television character of all time. In my book, Barney ranks only second to Archie Bunker.