How many of you know what R.F.D. stands for, as in Mayberry R.F.D?
Show of hands?
I thought not.
It stands for Rural Free Delivery and refers to the turn of the century initiative to actually deliver mail to rural farms instead of making farmers go into town to pick it up.
Which means we’re going to be spending a lot of time out in the middle of nowhere when we watch Mayberry R.F.D.. What’s funny is, I always thought of Mayberry as a pretty rural town to begin with, but the way they talk about it in this Andy Griffith show spin-off series, it was a booming metropolis!
Mayberry R.F.D. was an attempt to recapture the father / son relationship of the early Andy Griffith shows. Song and dance man Ken Berry plays a widowed farmer with a young son (Buddy Foster). He really needs help around the house and ends up hiring Aunt Bea (Francis Bavier) who moved out of her house to make room for the new Mrs. Taylor. (Yes, Andy and Helen finally tie the knot!) Of course, she’s not used to living on a farm so hilarity ensues.
Mayberry R.F.D. is as wholesome and innocent as a TV comedy can be. The plots are beyond simple and often revolve around misunderstandings and attempts to spare someone’s feelings (which usually ends in that person getting hurt). Father Mike also has parental issues to deal with while he’s trying to make time with Millie (Arlene Golonka), his shy, but bubbly sweetheart .
The first season continues its ties to The Andy Griffith show with frequent visitations by Goober, Clara, Emmett and Howard. But even with all of the character crossovers, Mayberry R.F.D. didn’t hit the same chord for me. I remember liking it quite a lot as a kid but I didn’t get that warm nostalgic buzz when I popped in the DVD. Compared to an early episode of the Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry R.F.D. felt flat and contrived.
I’d say the problem lies in the simplicity of late 1960’s comedy but I still really enjoy other shows from the era such as The Lucy Show and the Dick Van Dyke Show. Hmm…maybe I only enjoy early sitcoms that are named for the leading actor. Perhaps if they’d called this the Ken Berry Show . . .
Which is another funny thing. I adore Ken Berry. He’s one of my favorite Carol Burnett Show guests (hmm….again with the name in the title.)
Here’s what it comes down to, if you grew up in a small town or on a farm in the 60’s, you’ll find a lot here you can relate to and enjoy. And if you’re a die-hard Andy Griffith fan, you have to own Mayberry RFD: The Complete First Season because it’s a part of the whole Andy experience.