Goober Pyle got his very own forgotten spin-off show in the late Seventies
This pilot really piled on the Pyles.
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Goober deserves more respect. Gomer gets plenty of attention. Yet, his cousin Goober appeared in far more episodes of The Andy Griffith Show — nearly four times as many. And while Gomer continues to be the center of attention on his own Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., loyal Goober continued to pump gas in Mayberry on Mayberry R.F.D.
In fact, George Lindsey continued playing Goober Pyle long after The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. ended in the Sixties. The Alabama-born actor portrayed Goober several times on Hee Haw throughout the Seventies.
Oh, and Goober got his very own sitcom spin-off. You won't find a single mention of it on The Andy Griffith Show Wikipedia page. Talk about no respect.
The pilot for Goober & The Truckers' Paradise premiered as a special on CBS in the spring of 1978, a decade after The Andy Griffith Show said goodbye. It might not surprise you to learn that the network did not pick up the pilot as a series. Otherwise, you would have heard much more about it. And Wikipedia would probably have a page devoted to it.
While it might have been a failed pilot, Trucker's Paradise remains a fascinating slice of Mayberryana for fans of The Andy Griffith Show. Because it greatly increased the size of the Pyle clan.
Goober and Gomer were cousins, as we mentioned. The Goober character began as an unseen joke in season three of The Andy Griffith Show — as Gomer would repeatedly tell Andy that "Goober says, 'Hey'" — before Lindsey made the charmingly dopey fellow flesh-and-blood in season four. Aside from those two like-minded kinfolk, we hardly see other Pyles, though we do hear Gomer talk about his Grandma Pyle.
Goober, on the other hand, had several siblings. They keep crawling out of the woodwork.
Goober's brother, Braden, rolls back into town in the Mayberry R.F.D. episode called — what else? — "Goober's Brother."
But then came Truckers' Paradise. The roadside diner at the center of the sitcom was crawling with Pyles. The establishment was owned by Goober sister Pearl Pyle (Leigh French). Continuity meaning nothing to classic TV producers, French was no stranger to Pyles. In fact, you might recognize her as the pretty hippie Michele in "Flower Power," a memorable episode of Gomer Pyle. Look, here's Gomer side by side with the woman who would become his "cousin."
Pearl — who spouted lines like, "Tear off my arms and call me a clothespin!" — was just one of several charming Pyle sisters. There were also the bombshells Toni Pyle (Lindsay Bloom) and Becky Pyle (Audrey Landers). Not even the official Mayberry Wikia includes them on Gomer's family tree. Here is proof they existed.
This being 1978, it seemed as if the network was clearly trying to capture some of that Charlie's Angels and Three's Company mojo. With a heaping dose of Alice thrown in. But don't get us wrong — this was a rural comedy appealing to fans of Mayberry and Hee Haw. They even remembered to include a comedic deputy character, played by John Chappell, who somehow ended up in a slew of sequel spin-offs, including The New WKRP in Cincinnati and AfterMASH. While somewhat derided today, those two shows were successes in comparison to this one-off.
Did you ever see Truckers' Paradise? Can someone please add this to Wikipedia?