Saturday, January 23, 2016

What Might've Been: The New Andy Griffith Show (1971)

How often does this happen?

A returning star, trying to avoid typecasting, tries his luck with a half-hour drama, only for viewers to turn away in droves. The network cancels the show, replacing it with a sitcom headlined by the same star.

The star in question? Andy Griffith.

Two years after the end of The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith returned to CBS with the half-hour drama, The Headmaster, which was his & CBS' answer to ABC's Room 222, the latter in its 3rd season, I believe. Headmaster was dismissed before Christmas break, and replaced in January 1971 with----wait for it---The New Andy Griffith Show.

While Headmaster was set in California, this new sitcom sent Andy back to his native North Carolina, this time to Greenwood. No, Andy Taylor wasn't back. Instead, the character's name was Andy Sawyer, and he was the acting mayor of the town, taking the job in an emergency. Sure, the title is unoriginal, and the concept was closer in scope to the earlier Andy Griffith Show. This time, Mayor Andy is married and has two kids. Lee Meriwether (ex-The Time Tunnel) and Ann Morgan Guilbert (ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show) co-starred.

So why did Griffith fail a 2nd time? Both Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show aired on Fridays, where ABC now owned the night with The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and.....Room 222, I do believe. Viewers felt Andy Sawyer was too close to Andy Taylor to have any distinct difference. Couple that with the networks' sudden need to purge rural themed programming, and Andy was effectively screwed.

Gilmore Box offers the open, and we'll leave you with that, as we never saw the show.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

I've seen it mentioned, in Wikipedia and elsewhere, that Don Knotts makes an appearance as Barney Fife in the very first episode of The New Andy Griffith Show, making the idea that Andy Griffith is not Andy Taylor very confusing. I'd love to see that episode, as I'm a huge Don Knotts fan.

hobbyfan said...

Unfortunately, complete episodes are not available. I had read where Paul Hartman reprised as Emmett Clark in the same episode.