The last and best of the "Barney Returns" episodes. While almost none of the color episodes measure up to any of the episodes where Barney was actually a resident of Mayberry, this one comes close to recapturing the original chemistry. The plot is unlikely and improbable, but there is a payoff if you suspend disbelief and just enjoy this brief return to the way things used to be. The script was one of the few written by producer Aaron Ruben, one of the many people responsible for the quality and integrity most obvious in the earlier seasons of the show. Don Knotts won a fifth Emmy Award for this episode.
You, you dropout!
19 September 2017
This might have been one of the great TAGS episodes but for one thing: Don Knotts. Lee Philips tries hard to recreate the magic between Andy and Don that for five seasons made the show the classic that we can't stop watching nearly 60 years on. But here it just doesn't work, the blame resting on Mr. Knott's alone, who, having by this time tasted of big-screen fame, can't quiet down his movie star persona long enough to bring back the less self-conscious, the more subtly absurd, and the ever lovable neurotic character from before he left the series. This year's model of Deputy Fife has less staying power than the Edsel he drove into town earlier in the color seasons. It's odd that the funniest character in this story is someone we've never heard of up to now, the irascible Mr. McCabe whose large house looks like it would fit right in with those of the Walnut Hills crowd we met earlier in the season. Even Andy Griffith looks like he doesn't know how to play off of his old friend Don. He is somewhat passive in the face of Barney's out-of-control mission to find a house for the summit--passive, that is, until he rightly explodes at him in the kitchen, all but calling him an idiot, after he allows Goober and some of the townspeople, including that man of mystery Mr. Schwump, to burst into the Taylor's living room for a glimpse at the summit-ers. It turns out Aunt Bee is the strong one in this crowd, making us wonder just how much more successful the SALT treaties might have been with plentiful helpings of fried chicken, potato salad, and actual salt. Throw in a jar of pickles and they seem to work wonders for navigating tortuous nuclear negotiations. The U.S. delegate, Mr. Clifford, comes across as an arrogant, difficult-to-please bureaucrat who, upon his arrival, dismisses the Taylors' home as unacceptable and who later has no qualms about helping himself to leftovers from their refrigerator. Barney's boss is a bully who obviously finds it easy to intimidate the once proud deputy who now just acts like a clown. One wonders whether Mr. Vasilievich and his translator, who resembles Gavin MacLeod, are speaking a real language or merely improvising gibberish. The director redeems himself with an epilogue set on the front porch that has Barney musing to Andy upon the vagaries of history and the average man's place in it, and just for a moment we are treated once more to the old magic between them.
Too Much to Swallow
11 January 2020
So a major summit is held at Andy's house. This would have been national news, on television every night. They trust Barney to pick the place. Well. There is one quite funny scene when a rich old man whose house is selected as a possibility for these meetings thinks that Barney is still twelve years old and call him a dropout. The rest is so far fetched that it is hard to even take a comedy seriously.