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Customer Review

on February 23, 2006
The fifth season of "The Andy Griffith Show" (1964-1965) is yet another admirable and very funny year in the eight-season lifespan of this beloved television comedy series. Season #5 is presented in its complete form on the five discs that make up this handsome DVD set from Paramount Home Entertainment. And each of these 32 episodes looks beautiful, too. Excellent video and audio quality.

All 32 show-closing epilogues are fully intact in this DVD collection (unlike Season 3, which has a select few missing). And as far as I can tell, short of digging up each original script (somehow) and checking all shows word for word, these episodes appear to be "uncut". I can't see any discernible edits, despite a disclaimer at Paramount's webpage for this release that says: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions".

However, that same "edits" disclaimer is not included on the back of this Season-Five box (as it was on the S.3 box, which does contain a few edits). Perhaps Paramount was just putting a needless 'fear of God' into fans for no good reason. Beats me. But these shows look fine (and complete) to me.

The average run time per episode here is about 25:30, with the shortest running time being approximately 24:35. So, if there are any "cuts" to these episodes, it must not add up to very much total footage, that's for sure. There are very few eps. in this set that run under 25 full minutes.

Also on the subject of "edits" -- Each of these thirty-two shows does contain its original laugh track (unlike the Season-Four TAGS set, which has a few laugh tracks missing). I diligently checked each and every Season-Five program to see if the laughter is present on the soundtrack....and it is there for all episodes, which is as it should be. I like the shows better with the laughter in the background (canned or otherwise). ;)

Opening & Closing Credits ..... It appears to me that all of the originally-aired opening and closing titles (credits) are used for this Season-Five DVD set. Although it's obvious that the Main Title opening sequence was actually filmed years before this 1964-'65 season, because Opie's much-younger age in the credits is quite noticeable. A new show opening wasn't created between seasons 2 and 5, so the exact same one that was filmed in 1961 (prior to the start of the second season) was used for all of those years.

The original whistling theme music seems to be fully intact here, on both the opening and closing portions of each episode; and the CBS-TV "Eye" (logo) has been left intact on these Andy Griffith prints as well.

Despite the few edits and laugh-track omissions in previous releases, Paramount (in my opinion) has done themselves proud with "The Andy Griffith Show" on DVD. I know I shall enjoy these TAGS season sets for many, many years to come.

This fifth "Andy" season (which was the last year of the series to be filmed in black-and-white) is filled with funny and enduring Mayberry antics, located within such memorable episodes as .... "Barney's Uniform", "Family Visit", "Barney's Physical", "Three Wishes For Opie", "Barney Fife, Realtor", "The Case Of The Punch In The Nose", "Goodbye, Sheriff Taylor", "The Arrest Of The Fun Girls", "Opie Loves Helen", and "If I Had A Quarter-Million".

That "Quarter-Million" episode features one of my favorite lines of spoken dialogue from the series. After another of Barney's frequent mishaps with his revolver, Andy asks his deputy: "You want to give me your pants? I'll take them to the artistic weavers". :)

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Some Barney Banter:

Season Five of "The Andy Griffith Show" marks the end of an era -- the "Barney Fife" era, that is. Sadly for "T.A.G.S." fans, Emmy-winning actor Don Knotts, who played Mayberry's clumsy but lovable one-bullet-carrying Deputy Fife for the first five years of the series, left the show as a regular cast member after this fifth season of the show, in order to pursue a career in the movies.

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EDIT (FEBRUARY 26, 2006) --- The news came just one day after I submitted this Amazon review that Don Knotts had passed away at the age of 81. It's quite ironic (and fitting) that this DVD set containing Don's last season as a regular on "TAGS" would be made available to the public just days prior to Don's passing. Fans of Mr. Knotts (and Barney Fife) can now enjoy all 159 episodes that make up the first 5 wonderful "Barney Fife years" of "The Andy Griffith Show", the TV series that made Don a household name in the early 1960s.

Actor Andy Griffith, Knotts' partner in fighting crime in Mayberry from 1960 to 1965, had been a very good friend of Don's for many decades. Griffith, age 79, visited Don in the hospital shortly before his death.

"Don was a small man, but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions," Griffith told The Associated Press on Saturday (02/25/2006).

"Don was special. I loved him very much," Griffith added. "We had a long and wonderful life together."

Don Knotts was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, on July 21, 1924. During an acting career that spanned more than half-a-century, he appeared in many TV series and more than 25 motion pictures.

One of Don's very first TV roles was when he played "Wilbur Peterson" from 1953 to 1955 on the daytime soap opera "Search For Tomorrow".

Some of Don's funniest television work (other than as "B. Fife" of course) came during his frequent appearances on "The Steve Allen Show" in the late 1950s, when he would appear in comedy sketches as "The Nervous Man". Don was hilarious in those skits, which were just tailor-made to suit his timid, fidgety acting style.

Don Knotts' death on February 24, 2006, in Los Angeles, was due to pulmonary and respiratory complications. He will forever be missed; but, thankfully, he left behind his Barney Fife legacy on film, and Paramount Home Entertainment has done a bang-up job at preserving all of the Barney episodes of "TAGS" in crystal-clear clarity on DVD-Video.

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Barney Fife returned to Mayberry as a guest star in several post-Season 5 Andy Griffith episodes (which all did very well in the ratings for CBS); but that just left Barney-admirers wanting to see more of the wiry lawman during those last three seasons. For me, the show just wasn't the same after good ol' "Barn" left for greener (movie) pastures. And I know a lot of other TAGS fans agree with that assessment as well.

Don Knotts won five Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Mayberry's mostly-inept (but always funny) town deputy. It's remarkable he survived all those seasons on the Griffith Show, isn't it (what with that super-itchy trigger finger of his)? ~wink~

Over the course of those five full seasons he appeared on "TAGS", Don Knotts practically BECAME "Bernard Fife", playing the part so perfectly in every episode it's no wonder he was singled out for excellence with those multiple Emmy trophies. "Barney Fife" is truly one of television's seminal characters in the history of that medium. And, well, somehow, replacing a Barney Fife with a Deputy Warren Ferguson is kind of like replacing Charlton Heston with Pee Wee Herman in "Ben-Hur". ~grin~

In the episode "Barney's Uniform", Don has to display a whole range of Barney Fife's emotions -- from humor, to anger, to embarrassment, to cowardliness, to tenderness, and finally courage, as he eventually stands up to his nemesis ("Fred Plummer") in that episode.

Plummer was played by Allan Melvin, who was cast in numerous different parts on TAGS over the years, including a character in the third-year episode "Lawman Barney" who was very similar to Fred Plummer. The "Lawman" ep. was yet another time when Barney was forced to summon his inner courage to ward off a troublemaker. And, as always, Don Knotts' performance as Deputy Fife in that "Lawman" installment is wonderful to see...as he believably goes from "weak sister" to "dependable police officer performing his duty well" in just 25 minutes' time.

At the end of "Barney's Uniform", yet another facet of Barney's character emerges -- his good-sized ego -- when he says this to Andy after having just engaged in a victorious confrontation with Mr. Plummer.....

"I told him the same thing I told you -- I'm a symbol of the law whether I'm wearin' a uniform or the ol' salt-and-pepper. He gives me complete respect or else. He got the message. You know, the bigger they are, the bigger they crumble."

Now, in the hands of a lesser talent than that of Jesse Donald Knotts, those words I just quoted above probably wouldn't seem funny at all....they'd just seem spiteful and arrogant. But coming from Don/Barney, it's a different story. Don had a truly unique way of being able to perfectly blend the seemingly-unblendable combination of "a big ego" and "likability". And not many actors could have pulled that off for five consecutive years. But it seemed second nature to Mr. Knotts.

For, no matter how stuck on himself Barney Fife was, Don Knotts always allowed room for that adjective -- "likable" -- to find its way into that character he was portraying every week on CBS-TV. And I've yet to meet the person who didn't like Bernard Fife quite a bit. A truly remarkable character in the long history of television.

Thanks, Don, for knowing how to think and act like Barney Fife.

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The Season-Five DVD packaging is consistent with the earlier "TAGS" seasons produced by Paramount, which I like very much .... although the cut-and-paste photos on this box cover aren't my favorites. (Andy wearing a necktie?! Egads, that's just silly-looking! Andy hardly ever wore a tie. But that, of course, is just a very minor packaging quibble however. But, IMO, the Season-One and Season-Four DVD artwork are the best ones that Paramount has done for this TV series.)

I very much like the innards of the fifth-season packaging however, consisting of three slim plastic cases for the five discs (with unique artwork on each of the three cases). Episode titles are located on the back of each slim case, printed on a simulated "Parking Citation" pad, complete with Barney Fife's signature and a little Mayberry Sheriff's Office motto printed at the bottom of each ticket that Barney hands out to the desperate law-breakers of Mayberry -- "Let that be a lesson to you" has been printed on each "ticket". LOL.

The picture that's found on the case for Disc #5 is the best packaging photo in this collection, in my opinion. It's a very nice-looking shot of Andy, Helen, Aunt Bee, Barney, and Thelma Lou. That artwork should have been used on the outer box cover, IMO. It would have looked much better there than the composite photo that was chosen for the slipcase cover. Too bad they can't be switched around.

The discs themselves each contain unique (albeit somewhat odd) color pictures of an assortment of "down home" items, including two things that remind us immediately of Floyd's Barber Shop.

All episode titles are also printed on the back of the outer box too (with corresponding disc numbers), which is a very handy "at-a-glance" feature. Each disc contains either six or seven episodes.

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A Few More Stats Concerning This 5-Disc Boxed Set:

Video -- 1.33:1 Full-Frame (as originally aired).

Audio -- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English only).

"Play All" Option? -- Yes.

Special Features -- None.

Menus -- Non-animated design; No music; Main Menu is also the Episode-Selection Menu; No Episode Sub-Menus are included. (Disc 1 has a Menu choice for "Previews", which include a few Paramount ads for other DVDs. An option to watch the Previews or go straight to the Main Menu appears when Disc 1 is initially loaded up.)

Chaptering Available? -- Yes. Five chapter stops per show, including a break right after the opening titles.

Paper Enclosures -- None.

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So, Mayberry fans, load up your one bullet (or load up any of these finely-produced Digital Discs into the DVD Player, take your pick), and enjoy the last of the Barney Fife treasures in "The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Fifth Season".

Goodbye, Barney. We'll miss you dearly.

~~Socks Barney in arm with balled-up fist~~
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