I switched off the Oscars for an hour Sunday night. CNN aired last week’s tribute to Don Knotts with interviews from Andy Griffith, Karen Knotts (Don’s daughter), Ron Howard, Jim Nabors and Joyce Dewitt.
It was a captivating show with Andy and Gomer and Opie recalling their days on the show and with the great Don Knotts. The thing that sticks with me is how Knotts really created the character of Barney.
Andy says Don came to him after the pilot episode (which was actually an episode of the old Danny Thomas Show) and told Ange (that’s what he called him) that he needed a deputy in the new show.
Don’s daughter tells of how he used to rehearse the lines for Barney every Sunday in advance of the episode shoot. He’d practice every line several different ways until he found exactly the one he wanted to use.
Andy told of how Don used to make him laugh so hard they would have to re-shoot the same scene several times. His favorite memory was when Barney insisted he knew the preamble to the Constitution because his mind was like a safe, once he learned something he never forgot it.
I remember the scene so well. Barney couldn’t remember the first syllable and when Andy prompted him with “we”, Barney’s expression was priceless disbelief. Don Knotts wrote that scene.
Mike was right when he commented that what set TAGS apart from shows today was character development. Barney Fife is arguably the greatest character in the history of television.
My son and I have watched more than a dozen episodes this weekend. TV Land’s greatest move is to air the first minute of each episode and the last scene that were often removed to make room for an extra commercial.
Anyone want to post their favorite episodes?