Don Knotts said television was ''in a rut'' in the late 1960s

After he left the industry to pursue motion pictures, Knotts saw a big change in television.

Television has changed over time, which is obvious, but many always refer to the '60s as one of the best decades that produced quality television productions. Many of the shows from that decade are considered classics, and reruns could be seen on MeTV for the ultimate memorable television experience.

Every week, from 1960 to 1968, new episodes of The Andy Griffith Show appeared on our television screens, making us laugh and wish there was some way we could all move to Mayberry.

Don Knotts played everyone's favorite deputy, Barney Fife. At the time, fans probably couldn't imagine the series without Knotts' character, but it happened. The actor left the show after the fifth season in 1965 to flourish in a different area — motion pictures.

He left the show because he was under the impression that it would end after five seasons, but Griffith decided to continue. Knotts already signed a five-film contract with Universal Studios.

It's a story we've heard several times. However, in an interview with Pensacola News Journal in 1966, the actor gave his thoughts on the then-current state of television after he left the industry to pursue films.

"The big change in TV today is that they have gone mostly to half-hour situation comedies," he said. "I think TV could be better, but it is in a rut."

You're probably thinking, "Well, wasn't he on a half-hour situational comedy himself?" Yes, he was. Knotts was perhaps referring to the lack of shows in various genres. For example, some people could say the same about the '50s. Although there were a few sitcoms and dramas on then, Westerns pretty much took over.

Knotts also explained why he preferred to stay in movie production, even though he excelled in television.

"I rather make it by the motion picture route. You have more time to develop, and in the long run, it is easier on you. TV is a grind from dawn to night," he added.

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75 Comments

Charlotte 4 days ago
60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's all produced good comedy shows. Nobody griped and complained about what was said & took everything in stride & laughed! Imagine that...laughing.
PierreKhoury 4 days ago
I have always liked the 60's shows better than the 70's.
CoreyC 5 days ago
By the late 60's TV shows was full of campy tv shows and rural tv so when the early 70's arrived there was the great rural purge which Mayberry RFD was one of its victims and social issues began to dominate.
wallyandbagfan 6 days ago
https://youtu.be/lW2oIQQbWc4
Mary Simpson 2 Sue Ane Langdon was a great and cute girlfriend for
Andy Taylor. Its too bad that Mary
Simpson 2 was only in ONE EPISODE ONLY OF TAGS.
ALSO JULIE ADAMS PLAYED MARY
SIMPSON ONE .
wallyandbagfan 6 days ago
https://youtu.be/54-3cmU4qvc
Some TAGS fans might be SURPRISED at the Number One Girlfriend of Andy Taylor but I wasn't.
Moody 6 days ago
I wonder what he thought of tv in the 90s & early 2000s. It's not in a rut, it's in a huge hole.
TazMDevil Moody 3 days ago
I think it's both....a huge ruthole
JHP 6 days ago
Well BARN - I'd sat KNOTT! Just because you yelling at your boss got old (HAHA) or anyone or had a laugh track after any thing you did. He would scratch his ear and get a laugh track (what a great comedic actor).

Green Acres and Bev Hillbillies and so many more were great funny shows...Don is a KNOTThead!! As the show went on he was getting more and more moronic and irritating. I got a question for the readers - who didn't BARN yell at? And then came Warren - by far a can of night crawlers in the sun or a rich man's jerry van dyke.

The answer is there wasn't.

And if he would have done his frigging duty instead of yakking to Juanita (on a county funded phone) he would be semi-ok. PeeeeU

Now as I remember - there was a show,,,it was called Laugh In? Maybe I could be wrong - like from '68 to '73?
hermanstein2015 JHP 6 days ago
The Andy Griffith Show used laugh tracks bc the show wasnt Infront of a live studio audience. Not everything Don was in was laugh tracked and he did several appearances on other comedy/variety shows. It's pretty single minded to go and comment on every single comment on this article you must have a lot of time on your hands. Other actors on TAGS had laugh tracks also, and we're just as funny.
timothys71 JHP 3 days ago
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In--that is a show that I would love to see rerunning on a retro-formatted network such as MeTV. Sketch comedies and variety shows--you just don't find those on TV these days.
JHP hermanstein2015 3 days ago
So then EVERY thing that DK did was funny? Gees. Again he could scratch his ear and that would be funny. We agree to differ - case closed. DK as BARN was marginally funny
FrankensteinLover JHP 3 days ago
Do you hate Don that bad?? He was hilarious way beyond the Andy Griffith Show have you never watched his Weatherman or Sportscaster Skits? His Movies Like Ghost and Mr Chicken were Great as well.
mememememe66 6 days ago
Where is the MeTV comments moderator????
Very sad that these comments go unchecked.
It’s obvious that some of the commenters aren’t too familiar with Social Media etiquette or acceptable language.
Denny uses unacceptable language
Denny uses gutter language.
Deleted 6 days ago
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JHP 6 days ago
the darlings ? ERP!
Deleted 6 days ago
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JHP 6 days ago
too much talent and waaaay too much beauty for TAGS - Emma Watson is a hottie:)
wallyandbagfan 6 days ago
Emma Watson was also called
Emma Brand.Pip Pip AND CHEERIO ! CHEERIO.MEREDITH PLAYED
EMMA A DELIGHTUL CHARACTER AND ACTRESS.
JHP 5 days ago
all I say/ hear is "NAUGHTY NAUGHTY Deputy!" shaking her umbrella - NOW that deserves a laugh track for sure
Deleted 7 days ago
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cperrynaples 7 days ago
Only time they were all together! Jim & Don shared no scenes in RTM!
Bapa1 7 days ago
TV was in a rut at that time. Mindless sitcoms and cookie-cutter Westerns and Detective shows, for the most part.
Pacificsun Bapa1 7 days ago
😉
Wait a 'sec, why wouldn't sitcoms be mindless, westerns formulaic, and detective series repeatedly catching the bad guy.

Escapism (known as classic TV) has provided relaxation and company to many through the decades. It's notable because of familiar and fun characters. And a tiny bit of moral tales. Why the bad guy always gets caught, the western dude learns a lesson and predicaments which create comedy.

I could see Don Knotts getting tired of his role. But the medium was probably an irreplaceable reflection of the times (it terms of kindness and good character).
CoreyC Pacificsun 5 days ago
Escape tv shows was used to escape the horrors of the Vietnam War and the major civil unrest of 1968 with the deaths of MLK and RFK.
LoveMETV22 8 days ago

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It seems Don Knotts made the right decision that worked for him. Enjoyed him on TAGS, and the roles he played in movies as well.
Andybandit 8 days ago
There a lot of comedys, cop shows, and dramas from the 60's, 70's, and 80's that I like that I wish MeTv would air. But that is okay. I can watch them on Decades, H&I, Cozi TV, Antenna TV, and GeTv. A lot of good show on those channels. Like MeTv
Yep, and many of those can be seen cheaply on Frhdly TV! I get all the best PLUS unlimited DVR for only $9 a month! Alert: 77 Sunset Strip runs today on Decades!
I wish Antenna TV played the theme songs on the end of the shows like MeTV does.
Yep, I hate it when they scrunch the credits! Sometimes it continues into the next show!
Bapa1 Loveflinstones 7 days ago
I hate that too. I also like to read the screen credits .
JHP cperrynaples 6 days ago
now c'mon...they do that to fit their a-wipe ads unless you got bi-nocs close to your chair
CoreyC cperrynaples 5 days ago
Blame commercials. a lot of content is lost because of them.
Since MeTV picked up All In the Family, it is the first time I've heard that show's closing theme in ages. Get TV cut that part when they aired the show.
Andybandit 8 days ago
I love shows from the 60's and 70's. I love the comedys, drama, and cop show. Also some from the early 80's.
I love the 1950's shows too, like "Honeymooners" and a lot of
westerns.
wallyandbagfan 9 days ago
Ralph Furley on Threes Company and
Barney Fife both played by Don Knotts were almost identical characters.
Also I liked Jack Burns as Warren Ferguson was a great character and just because Warren Ferguson was not as popular as Barney Fife was not a good reason to fire Jack Burns.
There no explanation when Warren Ferguson left the show or when Ellie Walker Peggy McMillan and Mary Simpson all left town.
JHP wallyandbagfan 6 days ago
Dd furley ever shoot himself in the PO-PO or in the foot?
Pacificsun 9 days ago
DK's Quote: "The big change in TV today is that they have gone mostly to half-hour situation comedies," he said. "I think TV could be better, but it is in a rut."
MeTV's Story: "He left the show because he was under the impression that it would end after five seasons, but Griffith decided to continue. Knotts already signed a five-film contract with Universal Studios."

IMO, Don Knotts could be trusted to give an honest opinion, and that's what he was being asked for. The problem is, times change. He'd reached his peak as Barney and he knew it. Universal Studio, was giving him a chance to do comedy features and to put him in the starring role. So "IF" television was falling into a rut, it's because in that day, his fellow actors made their money through those (wonderful) sitcoms too. So they could move on too. Came to a point in their careers however, when movie roles got scarce (for their age). So what did they end up on, but Westerns. No problem, no worries. Viewers love the genre. But let's not knock the medium. There were in fact 1 hour dramas being developed (more of them we'd like to see here on MeTV of course). But, let's face it, the money from movies was richer, publicity more obvious.

If television was such a rut, why did he end up on Three's Company as Mr. Furley, hardly a stellar character to be remembered by.

Well, because, "retirement" bites.
JHP Pacificsun 6 days ago
a-men a roni:)
15inchBlackandWhite 9 days ago
What's it in now? All they do is recycle old shows from the 80's. MacGyver, The Equalizer, Quantum Leap...
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cperrynaples JHP 5 days ago
Yep, even those scenes are bad! Those women don't come to Monteblan or Villichase!
JHP cperrynaples 5 days ago
To me - fantasy island was the Love Boat beached ( it's an ok show)
CoreyC cperrynaples 5 days ago
The original Fantasy Island like The Love Boat relied on guest stars.
timothys71 Bapa1 3 days ago
The original Night Court--that is a show I would love to see on MeTV. It was rerunning on Laff, but they seem to have dropped it.
FrankensteinLover 9 days ago
Don Knotts was a Comic Genius.
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FrankensteinLover JHP 5 days ago
Well I think Don Knotts was far funny beyond the Andy Griffith Show, His weatherman and Sports caster skits are beyond hilarious and how he did them is beyond me twisting all those words. You're right about Andy always coming to save the day with Barney as that was how it was Scripted and clearly worked. As the Show has never been off air for over 60 Years. I thought he was Good from the Shows, Movies, but especially the Skits.
hermanstein2015 JHP 5 days ago
The scripts were written that way. Barney was supposed to mess up and Andy would save him. And to answer your question Barney never really yelled at Aunt Bee. He was high spirited but that's the way he was written into the show. And I'll also point out that Barney was the most watched character in TAGS. Even when he left the show, the episodes he guest starred in, in the colored episodes, were the most watched episodes ever. That's facts not opinion. So you may not think he's funny or a genius but a lot of world disagrees and that's okay.
JHP hermanstein2015 5 days ago
AOK by me (we got our opinions and we will take facts and reality to the grave) - it's all good and BARN did yell at Bee:) - I think it was the one where Opie was supposed to get his IQ tested. I could be mistaken; He might have been the most watched character again flavored with the laugh track . He (BARN could have dug out wax from his ear and there was the comedic genius laugh track flavored) Actually Floyd was funnier for the scenes Howard McNear had - he played a dolt with no high spirited attitude (even though with the episode the "spoiled kid") Barn states that he wasn't ; HA!
JHP hermanstein2015 5 days ago
so in other words - Warren or BARN - I even would take BARN over Jack Burns - gees
cperrynaples 9 days ago
Strangely. in 1970 he came back with a variety show on NBC! He also played "Faux Barney" in the NAGS premiere!
Didn't he end up on Three's Company!
Yes, he did! But let's not forget the movies he did with Tim Conway!
Dario cperrynaples 9 days ago
Yup, The Apple Dumpling Gang(1975) and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again(1979) for Walt Disney Productions. The first one starred Bill Bixby.
cperrynaples Dario 8 days ago
Yep, they also did The Private Eyes & The Prize Fighter! In the latter, Don looks on in horror as Tim's face is used as a punching bag! Now that's funny!
In that movie, Don does a takeoff of the egg scene in Rocky! BUT I swear that Stallone pulled a Barney in his movie! You'll know what I mean when you see it...LOL! And yes, I LOVE Tulsa King!
Bapa1 cperrynaples 7 days ago
I remember his variety show. With Louie the Wonder Dog!
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