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July 14, 2012
By Pastor Tim Richards
You’ve probably already heard the news that actor Andy Griffith died of a heart attack last week on July 3, at the age of 86. I’ve been an Andy Griffith fan for as long as I can remember. I guess some of that flows from his character on The Andy Griffith Show. He reminds me a lot of my own dad, who like Andy, treats others the way he wants to be treated and lives life with a healthy dose common sense.
The Andy Griffith Show was a phenomenal success. It remained in the top ten throughout its’ entire eight year run. It’s one of only three TV shows in history that were number one the year they went off the air. In 1998, a full thirty years after the final episode, more than 5 million people were still watching it each day.
The show portrayed a time in America when life was slower and people treated one another the way they wanted to be treated. When the comedic genius of Don Knotts, who played the lovable but bumbling Barney Fife, was added to the mix, the show achieved a certain measure of perfection. It combined humor and a moral that flowed naturally out of an entertaining story.
In 1997, the episode entitled, Opie the Birdman, was ranked number 24 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of all Time. In 2009, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show as the ninth best program in television history.
In the Birdman episode just mentioned, Andy’s son Opie, played by Ron Howard, shoots a bird with his sling shot and then raises the little birds. The show naturally wove together the theme of consequences and the rewards that follow taking responsibility for one’s actions.
My favorite episode is from season two. Barney and the Choir tells the story of Barney joining the choir and the difficulties that arise when everyone, except for Barney himself, realizes he can’t sing. The humor flows out of the fact that no one wants to hurt his feelings but he really can’t sing. The show’s conclusion is in my opinion one of television’s funniest moments.
In an interview that took place years after The Andy Griffith Show went off the air Griffith admitted he wasn’t as good a man as the character he portrayed. That’s not surprising, great characters often picture the person we want to be, not the flawed people we actually are. Great characters of the Bible challenge us to become a better person as well. Each of us should aspire to become better with God’s help. Thanks Andy, for the laughs, the entertainment and for the challenge to be a person others can look up to even after we’re gone.