This might get me in trouble with a couple of my friends, but I confess that I have never watched an entire episode of "Matlock." The way I made room for old Ben and his associates in Atlanta by imagining that Andy Taylor had grown older and finally out of Mayberry, turning his experience with the law as a small town sheriff into a thriving law practice under an assumed name. Andy Taylor was just too significant a presence in my televised world to make room for another persona for Mister Andy Griffith.
Though I was just a mere slip of a lad when it came on, I knew that "Mayberry R.F.D" was merely a shadow cast by the institution that was "The Andy Griffith Show." It was a comedy monolith that produced homespun moments of quiet genius as well as an Academy Award winning director. Goober, Floyd the Barber, Otis the Town Drunk, even fussy old Aunt Bea were people I welcomed into my living room a half an hour at a time, from black and white to color. It didn't matter, I was happy to spend a little time with the denizens of that North Carolina burg. I listened with great interest to "What it was was football," and watched "No Time For Sergeants" with that same cozy feeling.
Even when Andy started selling crackers, I was happy to believe that everything tasted great when it sat on a Ritz, since he seemed so genuine in his endorsement. But by the seventies and early eighties, my vision of Andy was disrupted by a pair of cinematic appearances. First came "Pray For The Wildcats," in which Andy goes on a motorcycle tour with Mister Brady and Captain Kirk. It doesn't end well. When I was in college, I caught a much earlier vision of Andy's country entertainer in "A Face In The Crowd." That one didn't start too well and ended worse, but it was testament to the power that Griffith had as an actor. It made me glad that he tended to use his powers for good and not evil.
I'll miss Andy as a physical presence, but his genius lives on wherever reruns exist. Aloha, Andy. Tell Goober I said "Hey."