Andy Griffith had a different episode in mind for The Andy Griffith Show premiere

Sorry, Aunt Bee! Do you agree with Andy or the producers?

Can you imagine a world where The Andy Griffith Show doesn't start with Aunt Bee arriving in Mayberry?

In the iconic opening scene of this beloved classic series, young Opie speaks now instead of forever holding his peace, objecting to the marriage of his former housekeeper to her new beau. Andy, acting as wedding officiant, tries to silence his young boy, but Opie gets obstinate.

It's our first glimpse inside this special father-son dynamic that the show famously centers on: How does a widowed father raise a young boy right?

It may surprise you to know then that the show's star Andy Griffith actually had a different episode in mind for the series premiere. He wanted to kick off the series with the episode that aired second in the first season, "The Manhunt."

In "The Manhunt," Andy and Barney must defend Mayberry against an escaped convict after the state police come to town and refuse to cooperate with the Mayberry lawmen. The episode sees Andy and Barney solving the crime before the state police and establishes Andy as a laid-back but highly competent lawman.

Sheriff Andy proves he knows his town better than any TV Western sheriff, and he's got a hilarious sidekick — what viewer wouldn't come back for more? "The Manhunt" could've been a great premiere, but with a somewhat different tone.

In the book Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and Classic American TV Show, author Daniel de Visé writes that Andy (and much of the creative team) argued that it would be better to start off the series with "The Manhunt" because Barney Fife is a stronger comedic character in that episode. They knew Don Knotts had the star power to pull in viewers.

In "The New Housekeeper," we meet Barney when he goes to see Andy on his first day on the job, reporting to his superior officer as if he is in the military. Andy tells Barney he doesn't have to be so uptight, and this is how the character is introduced: wanting to be taken seriously, but not as electrified as Barney Fife usually is.

If instead "The Manhunt" had come first, we would've met Barney in an entirely different way.

Our first glimpse of Fife would have been seeing him park his squad car with haste. He leaves the door open and runs up to Andy, who's just brought his boat to shore after fishing in the lake. Knott's eyes bulging, he shouts with high-strung urgency that something "big" was happening.

"Biggest thing that ever happened in Mayberry!" Barney insists, "Real big! Big! Big big!" This is the Barney that cracks everybody up.

"The New Housekeeper" isn't designed to be a vehicle for Barney Fife. It centers on Aunt Bee, who is also a critical figure in the series, as Opie's primary caretaker. This episode introduces Opie in an incredibly sentimental way that you might argue suits the nature of his character better than the introduction to Opie we would've gotten if "The Manhunt" aired first. The series continued to open each of its eight seasons with an episode about Opie coming of age.

Had the series started with "The Manhunt," our introduction to Opie would've been seeing him sitting across from his paw in their little boat on the lake.

"Paw, what kind of bait are you puttin' on my line?" Opie asks.

"Why, that's fish-catchin' bait," Andy says. "That’s the idea, you know, to catch fish."

Opie observes that the bait looks a lot like the ham from his lunch, and Andy answers that's because it is the ham from his lunch.

"Paw, you’re supposed to use fish bait," Opie says. Andy argues that fish see fish all day long and that their curiosity might be piqued seeing a piece of meat. Opie's not convinced until his fishing line tugs.

"Paw, I got one!" he screeches in delight.

Andy helps Opie reel in the fish saying, "Atta boy." Opie is now a true believer that ham catches fish better than any other bait and he swells with pride in his paw. "You know everything!" the young boy declares.

This scene sets up Opie's admiration for his father, showing how high his regard is for Andy, especially when he ultimately decides that Andy must be the most important man in the world. It's very, very different from the obstinate Opie we meet talking back to Andy in the opening scene of "The New Housekeeper."

So what do you think? Did The Andy Griffith Show producers make the right choice pushing for Aunt Bee's introduction in "The New Housekeeper" as the show's opening note? Or should they have listened to Sheriff Andy and led with "The Manhunt"?

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Pacificsun 4 days ago
The question MeTV poses could only really be answered in the moment, or at least after 1 or 2 seasons of episodes. Looking back we see the totality of the series, and know everything fits together anyway. At the time, they also had no way of knowing what a pivotal character Ronny Howard was going to turn out to be. Most kid actors "age out" of their parts. So it could be AG wanted to mainly focus on the Sheriff/Sidekick relationship. Instead, Ron Howard gave Andy Griffith so much genuine (unaffected) emotion, that the relationship grew, true to be. Sometimes objective eyes see more into the possibility of a new series, than those who are treating it too self-consciously (in other words, by over-thinking it). Also, they might've promised Francis Bavier a more significant role (anyway) and didn't want her to quit if she saw things to be, differently.
AtomicPlayGirl 4 days ago
Haha. Am I the only one who had to google the spelling of the character, Aunt Bee?

I want to point out how clever it is of you that you noticed each season's first episode was meant to highlight Opie's maturation. I had not noticed that before. It is a very clever way to tell a story. Lawyers think along those lines when building a case for court.

Yes....I am happy with the first episode just the way it was done. We needed a proper introduction for this family.
MrsPhilHarris 6 days ago
One of my favourite episodes is The New Housekeeper".
Nadya92129 6 days ago
Jan Shutan had much more warmth, charisma & beauty than did cold, petty Aneta Corseaut.
kkodey 6 days ago
Would have been better if Barney and Andy didn't mention they were cousins. That idea got trashed later and was never brought up again.
F5Twitster 8 days ago
If “The New Housekeeper” is the episode depicting Barney’s very first day on the job working for Andy, then if any other episode had been aired before it it would’ve violated the show’s continuity. CBS really had no other choice but to air this episode first.
Willie 8 days ago
I love mayberry an the Andy Griffith show. Thanks for keeping it alive. Also please send me daily messages from me-TV not every other day or two
LaurieNeuwirth 8 days ago
The Housekeeper was a perfect opener. We meet a vulnerable, yet kind Aunt Bea, a wonderful father and sheriff, a terrifically funny Barney who brings in Edna for jaywalking and the most adorable kid on the planet, Opie. The only child actors on a par with him would be the ones who played Jem and Scout Finch. So natural, such beautiful kids.
JeffSchafer 8 days ago
"The New Housekeeper" is the correct first show.
I was thinking the same thing as bewest169, Barney calls Andy "cousin Andy" in the "The New Housekeeper". No one would have known without this episode.
LindaPfaff 8 days ago
They did it right the first time (sorry Andy). Perfect beginning, with introduction of Aunt Bee right from the start!
VickiSmall 8 days ago
They would have had to write The Manhunt differently, leaving out Aunt Bee, because she was in that episode.
Wiseguy VickiSmall 8 days ago
And then they would be shown in that incorrect order now that in reruns the idiots in charge insist or airing episodes in the original arbitrary aired order (to please the idiots who insist or watching them in that order). Like watching the pilot of Star Trek (with different uniforms, sets and cast) as the third episode.
JeffSchafer Wiseguy 8 days ago
Sometimes, that's how they filmed it. Making a couple of episodes, but airing not the first one as the Pilot Episode.
As long as they show it in the EXACT order they aired it originally, that's fine.
Pacificsun JeffSchafer 4 days ago
Well that's the argument, isn't it. Why show them in the order they aired, rather than created/filmed? Because doing so makes the episodes look scattered. Technically (the original pilot) that became part of "The Cage" probably would've been more compelling because of it's novelty and more exotic science fiction tone (as Star Wars turned out to be much, much later). "Where No Man Had Gone Before" is one of my least favorite episodes because it was so stilted and one-dimensional. The old "I'm being possessed" trope is much to easy, and often is utilized without rhyme or reason, except as an excuse to call the teleplay science fiction. But (in the day) audiences weren't given enough credit, of course.
Tlor 8 days ago
I remember both and it was right to have the opening scene with Opie's caretaker marrying and Aunt Bee coming to town. I never saw Andy Griffith show as the Don Knotts show. If they wanted him to play the lead fine but this show was about a small town with people leaving and people coming to interact with the townsfolk. If it was all about Don Knotts I wouldn't have even watched the show. I really didn't like the 'Barney' character, he was a smug meddling twit. He was not a nice person ever i and should have stayed a bachelor, like Howard, with no steady girlfriend. Howard was a nice person, he deserved a wife and home.
Auntiejojo 9 days ago
Opie was so cute, the first episode was the right call. Because he said in the second episode Aunt Bea's ham. We would not have known who she was yet.
Pacificsun Auntiejojo 4 days ago
I thought it was Aunt Bee.
Dlyfaith1 9 days ago
The Andy Griffith Show is still one of my all time favorites! I thought and hoped his character was going to be based on his “No Time for Sergeants” role 😂, hello, hello. I cry when Opie stops and tells Aunt Bea how she needs him so he can teach her things. One of the better things about this show is he included Black people, just as he did on Matlock. I’ll never forget that!
kimmer Dlyfaith1 8 days ago
I love that line myself...a child's self assured confidence. What a great storyline and you can feel as he says it, his sense of need.
rdellacroce 10 days ago
Aunt Bee was clearly related. She was Andy’s father’s spinster sister. Her last name was Taylor and she had at least one married sister we were introduced to that had had 2 small children that once visited and stayed with Andy’s family in Mayberry.
MarkEd rdellacroce 9 days ago
Don't forget Uncle Ollie.
Nadya92129 MarkEd 6 days ago
I loved James Westerfield, "Cousin Ollie."
Fuming 10 days ago
The first episode with Aunt Bea helps to establish Andy and Opie's home life and shows Opie opening up his heart to convince Aunt Bea to stay. Manhunt is perfect for the second episode which focuses on Andy jb and his relationship with Barney. I'm glad they did it the way did.
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