Here's how Don Knotts dealt with critics

NBC executives wanted to ruin The Don Knotts Show.

Don Knotts is a legend of screens big and small. If he'd retired after The Andy Griffith Show, Knotts would've easily taken his place in the history book of immortal TV icons. Instead, Knotts carved out an incredible career in the movies too. Starring in movies like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Incredible Mr. Limpet. Even folks who didn't catch his run as Barney Fife had the chance to join in the laughter at the cinema. This impressive resume added up to prove that Don Knotts is truly one of the greatest comedy actors of all time.

While Knotts has always been popular with fans and casual viewers, to producers, he wasn't always a sure shot. 

In 1970, the powers that be were looking critically at NBC's Don Knotts Show, as executives decided the variety show wasn't where it should be in the ratings. The show's poor reviews did little to assuage top brass fears at the network, and so the extensive process of retooling the program began. An extensive variety show surgery ensued, with NBC taking a knife to the Don Knotts Show format.

For his part, Don Knotts seemed undeterred by the whole mess and stuck to his guns. The man knew what was funny but didn't take public offense to the network interference. Instead, Knotts shrugged off the criticism, even making light of one particular network note on TV.

NBC told Don Knotts that he should be more like himself on-air. So he began one show by telling the audience that he would now be "trying to be more like himself" to please critics.

In a 1970 interview with the Muncie, Indiana Star Press, Knotts elaborated on his position during this crucial juncture.

"How do you become more like yourself?" Knotts asked.

"We looked over the first five or six we made this summer to see what was wrong and decided we were going to a lot of trouble with sets and sketches. It was burdensome and not worth the output. Now, we'll give the illusion of a set with a few pieces, so the show can move faster."

"Our basic material won't be affected," he said. "We found the Front Porch segment worked where I talk to a guest, and that will become a regular feature, along with my character of the loser. And I'll be Barney Fife more often."

So what can we take from Don Knotts' approach to apply to our own lives? Well, when the powers-that-be say "jump," sometimes it's best to think "No, I know when to jump. That's why you've hired me. But maybe I can appease you by getting you to focus on something else instead!" 

Trust your instincts. Know what your skills truly are. And never, ever let 'em make you second guess why you're here.

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19 Comments

Runeshaper 6 months ago
"Well, when the powers-that-be say "jump," sometimes it's best to think "No, I know when to jump. That's why you've hired me..."" This applies to my life right now.
Bapa1 7 months ago
I remember his variety show, Elaine Joyce was a cast member. It was ok. Louie the wonder-dog was funny.
Charlotte 7 months ago
It's funny how the networks would take the TV character instead of the actor to make a show. Another example, McClean Stevenson. No wonder there was a lot of type casting going on.
Zip 7 months ago
Here I was thinking that Don would deal with the critics with a Karate chop!
cperrynaples Zip 7 months ago
No, they would have taken him down like Andy did...LOL!
timothys71 7 months ago
I still associate Don Knotts with the classic Disney film "The Apple Dumpling Gang". I believe that was the first live-action film that I saw on the big screen (I had previously seen a couple of animated Disney features) when I was a child in the 1970's.
Andybandit 7 months ago
I never heard of TDKS.
Moverfan Andybandit 6 months ago
I haven't either. Of course, I was only eight years old in 1970...
cperrynaples 7 months ago
Around this time, he sorta played Barney again on The New Andy Griffith Show! In the pilot, he played a character not identified but clearly based on Barney!
harlow1313 7 months ago
His characters draw on our human desire to see the hapless-loser win.
justjeff 7 months ago
...then nip it - nip it in the bud!
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
justjeff LoveMETV22 7 months ago
I found your cartoon after I made my comment... Blank - er - great minds think alike!
GioLovesMash LoveMETV22 7 months ago
love metv 2 for you is a-team is going away on h and i and back on metv is sunday block party is coming back or... mash july thing in 2017 or good times
LoveMETV22 justjeff 7 months ago
Wonder if there was any nipping of the bud, (not the barley & hops variety), back in that day. 🤣
LoveMETV22 GioLovesMash 7 months ago
"love metv 2 for you is"
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Not quite sure why you ask me programming questions, (as you have in the past as well).
I have no idea what Weigel's future scheduling plans are. H &I as well as MeTV's webpages both have "Contact" links you can use to ask your questions. However it's doubtful you'll find much information, as they don't generally ( and don't need to) share that information in advance.
justjeff LoveMETV22 7 months ago
Hic! I Dyunno... Hic! What makesh you ashk that???? Hic!🤣
FrankensteinLover 7 months ago
Don Knotts was a Comic Genius, and still has me laughing 30+ years later. As he said about Ernest T Bass he's a Nut.
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