Proof positive that The Andy Griffith Show had been on the air for seven seasons by the fall of 1966 was offered in the season opener, "Opie's Girlfriend," in which Opie Taylor (Ronny Howard), all of six years old when the series started, has entered the dating scene! In a related development, it is clear that Opie's dad, Mayberry sheriff Andy ...
Proof positive that The Andy Griffith Show had been on the air for seven seasons by the fall of 1966 was offered in the season opener, "Opie's Girlfriend," in which Opie Taylor (Ronny Howard), all of six years old when the series started, has entered the dating scene! In a related development, it is clear that Opie's dad, Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), is very, very serious about his longtime sweetheart Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), though wedding bells would not ring for at least another year. The basic cast lineup at this point includes Andy Griffith, Ronny Howard, Aneta Corsaut, Frances Bavieras Aunt Bee, George Lindsey as gas station attendant and erstwhile sheriff's deputy Goober Pyle, Jack Dodson as mother-dominated town clerk Howard Sprague, and Hal Smith as town drunk Otis Campbell. Also still on hand is Howard McNear as barber Floyd Lawson, but in a diminished capacity. Having suffered a serious stroke, actor McNear was unable to walk or to move his left arm. In a sweet, sentimental gesture, Andy Griffith insisted that the stricken actor remain on the series as long as he was able, seeing to it that Floyd's scenes were written so that he could remain seated and gesture only with his "good" arm. Having left the series as a regular at the end of season five, Don Knotts makes two more return appearances as Andy's former deputy in the episode "A Visit to Barney Fife" and "Barney Comes to Mayberry." This last-mentioned episode would earn Knotts another Emmy Award -- his fifth for playing the same role! Some viewers felt that The Andy Griffith Show had grown tired and predictable by the time its seventh season rolled around, with Andy Griffith's enthusiasm obviously waning. Other viewers didn't feel that way at all, as witnessed by the fact that the series closed out season seven as America's third highest-rated program. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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