Andy Griffith didn't like watching the first season of The Andy Griffith Show, and changed because of Howard McNear

The real reason Andy Taylor changed between Season One and Season Two

The best actors evolve in their roles. If a person is lucky enough to play the same character for years, that time can be used to develop the part into a more believable, fuller person. When an actor returns for a sequel, we expect their portrayal to be a bit deeper and a bit more rich. After all, like any profession, acting is made better with practice. 

Andy Griffith began developing the Andy Taylor character long before The Andy Griffith Show premiered. Earlier in his career, Griffith employed a heavy-handed, grinning Southern dope persona that would follow him into show business. His clumsy, rural act was a crutch that Griffith relied on less and less as he became more comfortable and experienced in front of the cameras.

Producer and director Aaron Ruben reflected on the ways Griffith grew as a performer in Richard Michael Kelly's 1981 book The Andy Griffith Show:

"He was being that marvelously funny character from No Time for Sergeants, Will Stockdale— not quite that broad because he was still sheriff, but in that direction. One day he said, 'My God, I just realized that I'm the straight man. I'm playing straight to all these kooks around me.' And he told me once, "You know, I find it hard to look at the first year's show on reruns.' He didn't like himself— and he was right, and in the next season he changed, becoming this Lincolnesque character."

When Griffith first graced the screen as Sheriff Andy Taylor, he had minimal television experience and relied on his instincts to guide his character work. However, as the show continued, Griffith grew with it, relaxing into the role. This change was fundamental in the show's success and popularity. In Kelly's book, Griffith explained how new characters coming into the show helped him realize what his role should be.

"Now in the ninth show we put in a barber, and the old gentleman was just scared to death— he couldn't remember his lines and he wasn't funny— so we reshot all of his scenes later with another man named Howard McNear, who played Floyd the barber. He was the second character we added. Over the years we added various other characters as we needed them, and our show became what it was— what it didn't start out to be, but became what it was."

The shift in Griffith's work changed the shape of the show around him. With Andy Taylor in a more relaxed, protective mode, it gave Barney Fife the freedom to create more problems for the Sheriff to solve. Taylor didn't need to be the driving force for the comedy and instead became the focal point of the show's stories. 

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39 Comments

Sharfish 3 months ago
I think miss Peggy was the best girlfriend Andy had I did not like Ellie she was to uppity for Mayberry and Helen crump was not funny to me but Peggy fit in better than anybody
Sharfish 3 months ago
I have watched this show when it first started I have seen every episode and in my opinion when Barney left it did change the dynamics but the characters that kept me watching was the ones with Ernest t bass and the darlings I still watch it but I rarely watch season 6-8
twiggins84 3 months ago
I've never had a dislike at all for season 1. I wish the woman that played Ellie May (can't remember her name for some reason), would have felt comfortable and not left the show. She would have been a much better love interest throughout the series than Ms Crump by far in my opinion. Seasons 6-8 I don't watch at all. The entire dynamic of the show changed without Don Knotts.
gmac1958 3 months ago
The episode "Mr.McBeevee" is one of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes. The ending when Andy says that he believes in Opie is so heartwarming, brings me to tears everytime I watch it.
WVsassy 3 months ago
I like the first season. Maybe it’s because I’m southern WV, I don’t pay any mind to the “corny” accent. To be honest, I never really noticed it until I read about Andy changing his character several years ago. The BW seasons are the. Eat. The colored ones? Andy is hating life and hating most of the citizens. lol.
JHP 3 months ago
Andy's corny southern accent makes the early ones un-listenable too.

But Howard was a biggie and very good in old time radio (must have been camera fright for him on the tv show).
TheKodakKid JHP 3 months ago
Howard McNear wasn’t the one who had problems with his lines. It was another actor. He was let go, McNear was hired as his replacement, and the scenes were reshot using McNear. The original actor hired to play Floyd was not named in the article.
JHP TheKodakKid 3 months ago
I can picture him - he looked like a short Asa Baskin (or Breen)
SteveO TheKodakKid 3 months ago
Walter Baldwin was the first Floyd the barber.
Only 1 episode
(per IMDb)
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
I don’t mind the first season. I like it better than the colour episodes. I recently watched a few on Pluto TV and Andy was crabby in all of them. Just miserable.
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JHP MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
well - as time went on it was that flora (and everytime she was on a scene came that annoying corny music...last name unknown) woman who I swear looks like Boy George
MrsPhilHarris DZee 3 months ago
I don’t remember much about them. I do remember I didn’t like the county clerk. I found him annoying. I would like to see the episode where Aunt Bee opened a Chinese Restaurant. 🥢
SteveO JHP 3 months ago
(Flora) Alberta Nelson was her name
JHP SteveO 3 months ago
was she related to Boy George?
Runeshaper 3 months ago
Character development and growth is important.

Side note; you gotta love a good barber!
JHP Runeshaper 3 months ago
Even if he started out with cats:)
Runeshaper JHP 3 months ago
True! lol
NorthFork 3 months ago
There is no doubt TAGS didn't hit it's stride until after the first season. But there are still some gems in there. 'Stanger in town,' is good. 'Quiet Sam,' and in all honesty, one of my favorite episodes of the series, 'Andy Forecloses.'
WordsmithWorks NorthFork 3 months ago
One of the absolute best of the series has to be the first episode when Aunt Bee replaces Rose. A classic Mayberry heart warmer.
JHP WordsmithWorks 3 months ago
Maybe quiet sam got rich hooking up with Rube Sloan and growing MARIJuana and selling hooch in a vape shop
harlow1313 3 months ago
The evolution of Griffith's thoughts about the show are interesting. I don't care for many of the episodes from the first season, but the following seasons produced some of my favorite episodes from any TV series.

Were I required to choose a favorite, I would choose "Goober and the Art of Love."

Do other commenters have a favorite episode?
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WVsassy harlow1313 3 months ago
The Pickle Episode. My absolute favorite, even if those pickles do taste like Kerosene cucumbers!
MizDee harlow1313 3 months ago
Wow, there are so many favorites. Anything with the Fun Girls, and Gomer's Date where Gomer is dancing at the end with Thelma Lou's cousin, Mary Grace (later Ralph on Green Acres), but I guess
my very favorite episode is Convicts-at-Large. It is hilarious from beginning to end, and when
Barney tells Maude, "You're beginning to get to me," and that actress, bless her, let herself be the embodiment of "not hot", and then Floyd comes out and says, "If those hamburgers burn, it's not my fault!" I think, too, that actress (Reta Shaw) must have been the picture Disney animators had in mind when they drew Mim the witch for "The Sword and the Stone" because the episode was in 1962, and the movie was in 1963. Also, TAGS made her look so pretty as Eleanora Poultice, Barney's voice coach in the episode "Song-Festers". I also love the Christmas Story episode and ironically, these two are #1 and 2 on IMBD's top-rated episodes.
harlow1313 MizDee 3 months ago
Like you, I love Gomer's frantic dancing. I watch closely, and Mary-Grace (the actress) is trying her best to keep up.

I love when Floyd keeps calling Barney "Al." Also, I love "I look kinda hard in civvies." I used to work in a corporate office where men wore suits. Anytime I saw anyone outside of the office, I would say, "I look kinda hard in civvies."
MrsPhilHarris villebilly 3 months ago
That line always makes me laugh. 🤭
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