Monday, July 23, 2012

"Green Acres" You Are There - on Broadway?!

According to Variety magazine, Green Acres, the classic TV sitcom that aired on CBS from 1967 to 1971, and for which Bewitched director/producer William Asher (who just passed away at age 90) directed a 1990 TV reunion, is bound for the live stage as a musical.  Richard L. Bare, the 98-year-old director of nearly every one of Acres' 170 episodes, has drafted the book for what Variety calls a "Broadway-targeted" project.  Cool.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adam West Can Save The World

I have yet to see the new Batman feature film, but not really that crazy about Chris Nolan and Christian Bale's Dark Knight franchise from what I have seen of the previous two films. They're too dark...too dingy....too depressing...too much of a drag. 

I like it better when superheroes are happy people...when action movies are bright and filled with adventure. 

I long for the day when a Batman feature film, in particular, somehow combines the colorful fun of the 1960s Batman TV series and real IMAGINATION...as opposed to clinical technology more or less based on clinical depression, which not only Mr. Nolan and Mr. Bale brought to Batman, but as did Tim Burton with the first Batman movie in 1989. 

Sigh

Adam West, where are you?!  The world needs you!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Andy Griffith: A Tribute to the Best

Andy Griffith may be gone from this world, but he will never be forgotten.  A performer of stage and film, he is best known of course for his classic television series, The Andy Griffith Show, which originally aired on CBS from 1960-1968.  This show begat a sequel (Mayberry RFD, CBS, 1968-71), may still be seen in reruns (across the board on places like TV Land), and is available on DVD.  The program’s stellar cast shines in any decade: Griffith (as Sheriff Andy Taylor), Don Knotts (Deputy Barney Fife), Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee), Ron Howard (Opie), and a host of regular and semi-regulars that appeared through its superior eight-year run.

The Andy Griffith Show is clearly Andy Griffith’s best legacy.  It stands for everything that a family television show should be:  it delivers superior entertainment, displays warm-hearted sentiment; and showcases the highest caliber of talent, in front of and behind the scenes.  Each element of its production was top-notch, from the writing, to the lighting to the performance of every golden moment scene.

There are four episodes of the series that remain favorites from my personal Griffith observatory:

1] Andy Saves Barney's Moral, in which Knotts' iconic Deputy Fife looks like more than his usual fool self, due to his flighty legalities.

2] The Clubmen, in which Andy and Barney meet with the members of an exclusively private men's association, and only one of them is invited to join.

3] Mr. McBeevee, in which Andy is convinced that his young son Opie's new friend is merely an illusion.

4] Barney and the Cave Rescue, in which Barney leads a rescue attempt to save Andy and his girlfriend (and Opie's teacher) Helen Crump (Anita Corsaut), both of whom are snared in a rock-ridden cavern, after an inner-land-slide.

McBeevee holds several heart-tugging moments, several between Andy and Opie, and in one in which Andy professes to Barney and Aunt Bee that, "I believe in Opie." Meanwhile, Moral and Clubmen display the true bond between Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife, which was the central relationship of the series. In each of these segments, Andy's diplomatic integrity and generous spirit of friendship and/or family shines brightly. Coupled with Cave, these Andy tales showcase high comedy, homespun appeal, and solid interaction between the main characters.

Still, if I must select my ideal segment, I must go into the Cave Rescue. Directed by actor Richard Crenna (who was the original choice for Darrin on Bewitched), and written by Harvey Bullock, Cave caters to several agreeable Andy elements, with style and distinction.

As the episode begins, Barney looks goofy as he inaccurately coins the proprietor of Mayberry's financial institution a pilferer. Chagrin, the Deputy picnics with his gal Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), Andy and Helen, all of whom decide to explore one of boys' childhood stomping grounds: a spooky cave. A rockslide ensues. Andy and Helen are trapped.

By the time they free themselves, Barney has arranged a mammoth rescue endeavor, involving two mean-spirited townsmen who had publicly humiliated him. Rather than further embarrass the Deputy, Andy and Helen reenter the cave and feign near-death.

The rescue works, Barney is looked upon with monumental respect, and his character is restored.

The core of The Andy Griffith Show's appeal is held together in Cave with emotional, psychological and yes, even physical strength (Barney and the town's finest work their tails off during the rescue).

Andy's affection for Barney is taken to new heights, as he infringes on the cooperation of his significant other, in the form of Helen. (Mostly before, he saved face for Barney, solo.). Not only does this enforce Andy's bond with his right hand man - and best friend, but solidifies his relationship with Helen, who proves her devotion to her Sheriff/boyfriend by going the distance (albeit, back into the cave).

Yet there are other fine bonding moments to adore within the Cave, specifically, towards the close of the segment, when Thelma Lou shares her pride in Barney What-a-Guy Fife with Helen, who seconds the notion, in reference to Andy. Helen never lets on that she and Andy really did not need to be saved, thus displaying her fondness for Thelma Lou with Andy-like discretion and poise.

Yet my favorite scene in this, my favorite episode, is when Helen and Andy venture to Helen's house in order for her to shift out of her dirty clothes (which she changed back into once she and Andy learned of Barney's massive rescue maneuvers, via the radio airwaves). As Andy initially waits in Helen's living room (which is decorated with doilies and big '60s furniture), a nostalgic, peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, inner-home cozy feeling seeps through the television, and begins to permeate into our real-life parlors.

We actually feel like we've been transported into Helen's abode...back to a simpler time, basking in the tranquil effects of that ol' Mayberry magic. Combined with Barney's pristine lunacy, and subsequently acquired legitimate (though unnecessary) courage, Andy's discretion and his "in-no-real-physical-peril-but-Barney-needs-me-to-be-in-trouble" heroics, Helen and Thelma Lou's prodigious support for the men in their lives (and despite the non-extensive use of the then-billed Ronny Howard's youthful intelligence as Opie and the central exclusion of Frances Bavier's amiable Aunt Bee), in my eyes, Barney and the Cave Rescue beams as The Andy Griffith Show's finest half-hour.

It stands for everything about classic television, and TV in general, that is good and sound and true.

Thank you, Mr. Griffith, for teaching us all about the truly finer things in life, which are always the simplest things in life.