|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2009)|
|Created by||Bob Ross|
|Theme music composer||Earle Hagen|
|Opening theme||"Mayberry March"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||78 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Andy Griffith
Richard O. Linke
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||R.F.D. Productions|
|Original run||September 23, 1968– March 29, 1971|
|Preceded by||The Andy Griffith Show|
Mayberry R.F.D. is an American television series produced as a spin-off and direct continuation of The Andy Griffith Show. When star Andy Griffith decided to leave his series, most of the supporting characters returned for the new program, which ran for three seasons (78 episodes) on the CBS Television Network from 1968–1971. During the final season of The Andy Griffith Show, widower farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) and his young son Mike (Buddy Foster) are introduced and gradually become the show's focus. Sheriff Andy Taylor takes a backseat in the storylines, establishing the sequel series. The show's first episode, "Andy and Helen's Wedding", had the highest ratings in recorded television history (up to premiere date in 1968). Sheriff Taylor and newlywed wife Helen make guest appearances on R.F.D. until late 1969, and then relocate with Opie. Mayberry R.F.D. was popular throughout its entire run, but was canceled after its third season in CBS's infamous "rural purge" of 1971. R.F.D. stands for "Rural Free Delivery", a quaint postal depiction of the rural Mayberry community.
Plot and characters
Father and son stories involving Sam and Mike Jones are reminiscent of the parent series. Both characters are introduced in the last season of The Andy Griffith Show (TAGS), beginning with Sam's election as head of the town council. Most of townfolk from TAGS reprise their roles in the sequel. Loyal Mayberry citizens Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), and Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) are seen regularly.
Sheriff Andy Taylor and his sweetheart, Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), marry in the sequel's first episode. Both make additional appearances (mostly Andy), then leave the series in late 1969, with a move to Raleigh, North Carolina as the explanation. Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) becomes Sam's housekeeper but leaves after the second season to be replaced by Sam's cousin, Alice Cooper (Alice Ghostley). Don Knotts and Ronny Howard, as Barney Fife and Opie Taylor respectively, appear in the first episode. Actress Arlene Golonka (who played Howard Sprague's sweetheart Millie Hutchins/Swanson in the Griffith show) becomes Sam's love interest in the sequel. A recurring black character named Ralph (Charles Lampkin) lives with a teen daughter and pre-teen son next to the Jones farm. Episodes include Andy's wedding ("Andy & Helen Get Married", episode #1); the christening of their infant son Andy ("Andy's Baby", episode #27); Aunt Bee getting engaged, ("Aunt Bee and the Captain", episode #16); friction over a parade ("Mayberry's Float", episode #39); and a visit from Goober's rocket-scientist brother ("Goober's Brother", episode #44).
An NBC reunion movie, Return to Mayberry, was produced in 1986 and featured many original performers from TAGS. Ken Berry, Buddy Foster and Arlene Golonka do not appear in the movie, nor do TAGS regulars Frances Bavier, Elinor Donahue, and Jack Burns. Nevertheless, Return does share continuity with the R.F.D. storyline, by maintaining that Andy and Helen are married. The Taylors' son Andy Jr., however, is never mentioned.
Reception and ratings
NOTE: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.
The social upheaval that occurred during The Andy Griffith Show's final 1968 season (including the Vietnam stalemate, street protests, the slayings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and racial riots) had much of the nation wistful for a more stable, idealistic America. The final episode of The Andy Griffith Show was titled "Mayberry RFD", which added an Italian-American family to the Sam Jones homestead. The series bowed out as the number one-rated show. The producers, however, chose to forego a big overhaul, and instead stuck with the winning premise of a widower, his son and the matronly Aunt Bee. Therefore, the series was much the same as The Andy Griffith Show, absent Andy Taylor and son Opie.
Mayberry R.F.D. was number four in the Nielsen ratings the first two years of its run. While its ratings were strong enough for renewal at the end of its third season (#15 out of 46), it was canceled despite public complaints. That year CBS, seeking a more urban image, canceled all its rural-themed shows including Green Acres, Hee Haw and The Beverly Hillbillies, in what became known as the "rural purge". With a Nielson's rating of 15, Berry had questioned the network's inequity, citing other shows the network sustained with far weaker viewership. Much later the CBS series Knots Landing ran for 13 seasons, with only two years higher than a Nielson #15 (Nielson ratings, 1979-91).
Incidentally, in the original plan for CBS's "rural purge", Gunsmoke was going to be cancelled at the end of the 1970-71 season and Mayberry R.F.D. would be renewed for the 1971-72 season (Family Affair, another show canceled that season, originally was to be renewed as well). This plan was revised due to Gunsmoke's Top-10 Ratings, ranking #5 in the Nielson's for the 1970-71 season; in fact the show's ratings rose to #4 in the next (1971-72) season.
- Fernandes, David; & Dale Robinson. A Guide to Television's "Mayberry R.F.D.", McFarland & Company, Inc, 1999. ISBN 978-0-7864-7284-0
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mayberry R.F.D..|
- Mayberry R.F.D. at the Internet Movie Database
- Mayberry R.F.D. at TV.com
- Mayberry R.F.D. at epguides.com
- Behind the Scenes of the Real Mayberry, a look at The Andy Griffith Show and the "real" Mayberry