While eating with a group of friends known as the lunch bunch, I suggested that we compare and contrast two of my favorite television programs.
“How can we do that?” one pal asked. “One is a reality show and one is fiction.”
Yes, I admitted, but they both are such wonderful shows in a television world that’s — in a word — awful. To me, the lazy, hazy, crazy days and nights of summer make for the perfect escape and I prefer to let Calgon take me away – to recall a vintage bubble bath commercial — to Mayberry, N.C., and West Monroe, La.
I can watch episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” for hours on end and laugh out loud at most everything Deputy Barney Fife does or attempts. (In full disclosure, my loyalty to the show waned after Barney moved to Raleigh.) Characters like Andy, Aunt Bea, Opie, Otis Campbell, cousins Goober and Gomer Pyle and Ernest T. Bass have a special place in my heart.
It matters not that I’ve seen every episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” 20-plus times and can recite the dialogue of the characters who live in fictitious Mayberry. I laugh every dadburn time, as Andy might say, ‘You beat everything, you know that Barney?” or when Barney philosophizes “The giraffe is a selfish animal.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the more serious episodes can bring tears to my eyes. If you’re a fan, think of the show when Opie accidentally kills a mama bird with his slingshot, or when grumpy Ben Weaver has a family man arrested on Christmas.
No wonder, some Sunday school classes study the show for its morality lessons.
Fast forward from the early 1960s when Andy and his crowd entertained us in black and white to the present day when the Robertson family escapades are filmed in living color. Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to “Duck Dynasty” but it didn’t take long for me to become a die-hard fan. While channel surfing one night, I switched to the A&E network, saw the Robinson men with their beards, camouflage clothes and guns, and figured the show just wasn’t for me. Later, though, I gave the show another chance, tuned in longer and was hooked. In fact, I found myself laughing out loud at the zany antics of Willie, Jase, Uncle Si, Godwin and Mountain Man.
The show centers around Phil Robertson, his wife Kay, their grown sons and families, Phil’s brother Si and various other characters, all of whom live in the real-life city of West Monroe. The Robertsons own Duck Commander, a successful duck call business. They hunt, fish and fill their days with plenty of old-fashioned fun. Some say the show is staged but I shrug my shoulders and ask, “So what?”
When I compare “Duck” to “Andy,” I consider the characters: With his wit and wisdom Phil is akin to wise Sheriff Andy; crazy Uncle Si reminds me of Barney Fife, and Miss Kay is like Aunt Bea. The Robertson boys respect their father in the same way that Opie admires Andy. Sprinkle in a few secondary characters like Otis/Godwin, Gomer/Mountain Man and Helen Crump/Korry Robertson and you have two hit television shows.
I’d take five minutes of “Duck” or “Andy” over an entire season of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” or “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
No curse words are bleeped out on “Duck” or “Andy” because the stars don’t curse. Body parts aren’t blurred because the players don’t have wardrobe malfunctions.
Call me sentimental, but I really enjoy watching Andy sitting on the front porch playing his guitar and singing, and I love each parting scene of “Duck” episode, which shows the Robertson family gathered around the dinner table waiting for patriarch Phil to bless the food.
Give me a lazy summer’s night and a few episodes of “Duck” and “Andy” and I’m happy, happy, happy.