Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Griffith’s Tough Second Acts

As every Limbo reader undoubtedly knows by this point, American actor Andy Griffith died earlier today at age 86. He was best known for starring in two very different TV series, a half-hour comedy called The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) and the legal drama Matlock (1986–1995). But in between those, Griffith started his own production company and appeared in several considerably less-successful series: The Headmaster, The New Andy Griffith Show (1971), Adams of Eagle Lake (1975), Salvage 1 (1979), and The Yeagers (1980). I don’t remember much about those short-lived programs. But thanks to the wonders of the Web, we can revisit most of them, if only briefly.

Headmaster (1970-1971, CBS): As Wikipedia explains, this was a half-hour comedy-drama in which Griffith played “Andy Thompson, ... the headmaster of a prestigious California private school, the Concord School. His wife, Margaret (Claudette Nevins), was an English teacher; his best friend was the school’s main athletic coach, Jerry Brownell (Jerry Van Dyke). Mr. Purdy (Parker Fennelly) was the school’s caretaker.” Below, Griffith talks about The Headmaster in a 1970 CBS Fall Preview Special:

The New Andy Griffith Show (1971, CBS): Tumbling ratings for The Headmaster convinced both its star and CBS to replace it with this program, a situation-comedy notably akin to The Andy Griffith Show, in which Griffith played Andy Sawyer, a family man who returns to his hometown of Greenwood, North Carolina, and “instantly becomes the town’s new mayor pro-tem.” Lee Meriwether (who would later go on to portray Catwoman in the 1966 Batman movie, Dr. Ann MacGregor in The Time Tunnel, and widow/private detective Betty Jones in Barnaby Jones) played Griffith’s wife, Lee. The opening sequence from The New Andy Griffith Show is embedded below:

Adams of Eagle Lake (1975, ABC): As Marty McKee explains in the International Movie Database (IMDb), this hour-long police drama cast Griffith as Sam Adams, the “sheriff of the bucolic ski-resort town of Eagle Lake, California, where, despite gorgeous mountain scenery and a homespun atmosphere, murder, escaped cons, hidden gold, and other sinister threats reared their evil heads.” It was the modified offspring of a 1974 television movie called Winter Kill, which had been a series pilot. “When it failed to sell,” Wikipedia says, “the main character of Sheriff Sam McNeill was renamed and used as the lead character in Adams of Eagle Lake.” Unfortunately, Adams was cancelled after only two episodes. Griffith didn’t abandon the concept easily, though; in 1977, he came back with two teleflicks--The Girl in the Empty Grave and Deadly Game--in which he played essentially the same character, this time named Abel Marsh. I haven’t found any videos from Adams of Eagle Lake, but I did discover this NBC promo for Deadly Game:

Salvage 1 (1979, ABC): This is certainly the most unusual series for Andy Griffith. He played Harry Broderick, who “owns the Jettison Scrap and Salvage Company, and is a specialist in reclaiming trash and junk in order to sell that as scrap.” The well-received, January 20, 1979, pilot film found him building “a space ship from his scrap pile in order to retrieve valuable parts left on the moon by American astronauts.” According to this site, subsequent episodes of Salvage 1 had Broderick’s Southern California-based enterprise involved “in such exotic missions as retrieving old B-52s from a jungle, oil from dried-out oil wells, diamonds from an active volcano and icebergs from the polar ice cap (which he could steer to a drought-stricken island).” Isaac Asimov was heralded as a technical adviser on this show, so you have to figure the scientific details were spot-on. Below is a teaser for one of the episodes (in which you’ll see that gasoline in 1979 cost 34 cents a gallon!), plus the series’ introduction:

The Yeagers (1980, ABC): A YouTube user gives this brief synopsis of the series: “Set in MacKenzie County, Washington, [it] follows the life of Carroll Yeager (Andy Griffith), the owner of the Yeager Logging and Mining Company, and his family, as they struggle to operate and maintain the family business.” It’s hard to tell how many episodes of The Yeagers were broadcast. At most there were four, though it’s just the first one, “Only the Strong Survive,” that earns any kind of attention on the Web. The TV Guide site provides this brief synopsis: “Carroll (Andy Griffith), his daughter-in-law and grandsons are stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash.” If anyone out there in Limboland can say more about The Yeagers, please leave a note in the Comments section of this post. For now, here’s the series’ opening:

After watching all of these videos a few times, I’m glad Matlock was a hit. Griffith sure needed one by the mid-1980s.

READ MORE:Warner Archive: The Girl in the Empty Grave,” by Stacia Jones (She Blogged by Night).

1 comment:

Jerry Carlson said...

My name is Jerry Carlson and live in Coeur d'Alene Idaho where this show was filmed. I only know of one show being aired on television. The reason I know this is that I was in the film while playing a football game.Kevin Brophy while playing Tony was supposed to have been on the local football team. The film crew had 3 semis full of gear at our football game and were shooting spot shots of the crowds and the cheerleaders. During the course of the game I had a long catch and run that was on the show. I only seen this on a VCR tape back then. But I have friends that seen it on TV and seen the catch and run and could hear my name on PA system in the background. I gave Kevin my jersey after the game so they could do some close-up work and try to integrate that into the play for the final cut. The reason I am posting this is that I am trying to get my hands on a copy of this episode if one still exists. The people that had it taped on VHS have since moved and I am having no luck trying to get one from the Coeur d'Alene high school as they say they don't have a copy. I still have the jersey that was in the episode. I would love to relive my glory days. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time. My email is jarbones52@gmail.com