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Life Goes On in 'Mayberry'

July 26, 1992|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"The Andy Griffith Show" was the No. 1 series during the 1967-68 season. At the peak of its popularity, Griffith decided it was time to turn in his badge. He had played wholesome Sheriff Andy Taylor for eight seasons on the gentle CBS comedy series and wanted to return to the feature film world.

But CBS didn't want to call it quits on Mayberry, N.C. In the fall of 1968, the network premiered the sequel, "Mayberry R.F.D.," which now airs weekdays on TNT.

On the first episode, Andy and Helen (Aneta Coresau) got married and moved away with son Opie (Ron Howard) in tow. Whereas many sequels falter--remember "AfterMASH"?--"Mayberry R.F.D." was an instant hit. The series still exuded the homespun charm of the original and "Mayberry" retained several characters from "Andy Griffith," including Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), Goober (George Lindsey), Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and Emmet Clark (Paul Hartman).

The star of "Mayberry" was Ken Berry, fresh from his two-year stint as the befuddled Capt. Parmenter on ABC's "F Troop." Berry played Sam Jones, a genial widower with a young son, Mike (Buddy Foster, Jodie's brother), who had recently moved to a farm just outside Mayberry. Sam soon found himself elected to the Mayberry Town Council. Though he had no experience, Sam did his best to perform his duties and tend to the Mayberryites.

For the first two seasons, Aunt Bee moved in with the Jones as their housekeeper. After Bavier left the show, Alice Ghostley, now seen as Bernice on "Designing Women," joined the cast as Aunt Alice. Arlene Golonka also starred on the series as Sam's love interest, Millie Swanson.

"Mayberry" placed No. 4 in the ratings for the first two seasons and dropped to No. 15 in its third. "Mayberry," along with other popular shows, "Green Acres" and "Beverly Hillbillies," were axed by CBS in 1971 as part of the network's cutback on "rural"-oriented programming.

"Mayberry R.F.D." airs weekdays at 7 and 7:30 a.m. on TNT.

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