Transitional season as the show switches to color, and new characters arrive in Mayberry. This was Don Knotts' last season as a series regular, though Barney Fife would make occasional guest appearances in the years ahead.
Ask a certain portion of diehard Andy Griffith Show fans why the series' sixth season (1965-66) is less well-loved than others from its eight-year run, and the answer boils down to four words: "Warren Ferguson" and "color episodes." Played by veteran comedian and writer Jack Burns, Warren was the replacement for Don Knotts' Barney Fife as Andy's sheriff, and lasted for just eleven of the season's 30 episodes before vanishing without a trace. The brickbats heaved at Warren are undeserved, though; replacing the multi-Emmy-winning Knotts was a task that few performers would have relished facing (and indeed, Knotts earned another Emmy for his return to the series in two episodes, "The Return of Barney Fife" and "The Legend of Barney Fife"), and Burns certainly gives his all (including his signature, rapid-fire "huh-huh-huh" gag line) to the character. He's no Barney Fife, and who could be, aside from Knotts? As for the color issue, the debate seems to be centered entirely around preference, although it's true that in syndication, viewer response has been traditionally stronger to the black-and-white broadcasts of seasons 1-5.
Aside from the Barney/Warren and color controversies, the sixth season is notable for the final appearances of supporting characters Malcolm Merriweather (Bernard Fox) and Ernest T. Bass (the great Howard Morris) in "Malcolm at the Crossroads" (in which the pair tangle over a crosswalk), as well as such fun episodes as "The Taylors in Hollywood" (Andy, Opie, and Aunt Bee react to a movie being made about them, with The Love Boat's Gavin McLeod as the movie Andy); "Andy's Rival" (Charles Aidman guest stars as a new teacher whose working relationship with Helen Crump makes Andy nervous); and "Otis the Artist" (an amusing Warren episode, in which he suggests painting to Otis as a substitute for drinking). Andy Griffith completists will also note the presence of Jack Dodson in the episode "Lost and Found"; Dodson would later join the series as Deputy Howard Sprague and transition with most of the supporting cast to Mayberry R.F.D. As with previous Griffith boxed sets, this five-disc set features no extras. --Paul Gaita