The Andy Griffith Show: Season 7, Episode 9

The Senior Play (14 Nov. 1966)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy, Family
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 55 users  
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Helen and her students students try to close the generation gap by showing that today's kids are no different than yesterday's.

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(as Sid Morse)
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Mr. Hampton
Charles Brummit ...
Homer (as Chuck Brummit)
Cynthia Hull ...
Estelle
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Opie Taylor (as Ronny Howard)
Mary Jackson ...
Miss Vogel
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Storyline

It's time to organize the annual school play and the senior students propose a musical revue. The principal, Mr. Hampton, agrees with the idea and Helen Crump is put in charge of the production. All goes well until Mr. Hampton drops in on a rehearsal and realizes they have a segment on rock and roll and modern dancing. He doesn't understand their music and their dancing and cancels the show. Helen isn't too pleased and has to find a way to change his mind. She sets out to prove to him that kids today are no different that they were when he was their age. Written by garykmcd

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Comedy | Family

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14 November 1966 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Is This the End of Andy Griffith?
20 January 2015 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

If you had to pinpoint a precise moment when THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW effectively stopped being THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, this might be it. Helen is directing the high school senior play (actually more of a revue or variety show) and decides to include in it a rock number whose bodily gyrations and sense of bacchic abandon are chaste by today's standards but possibly quite heady for 1966. At any rate they are enough to scandalize the older, conservative school principal (played by the distinguished character actor Leon Ames). He nixes the show and even threatens to fire Helen if she tries to go forward with it.

As soon as I had got to this point in the episode, I had it pretty well mapped out: hip young people open mind of conservative old fogey principal. Typical mid-Sixties generation-gap fare. Indeed, that's exactly what happens. In an attempt to change the principal's mind, Helen creates a new Twenties number for the show riffing on the Charleston and flappers. This, presumably, will catch the conscience of the king and make him see that young people of the present day are no different from young people of his generation.

There are many things wrong with the episode. Number one, Andy is on the sidelines, with the episode focusing on Helen and her teenage charges. Second, the musical numbers performed by the kids look like slick Broadway-esque productions, not the efforts of a bunch of kids from a small North Carolina town. Third, the resolution comes much too easily; one sight of those flappers causes the principal to turn on a dime and allow the show to proceed.

But more crucially and seriously, this episode doesn't belong in THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. The writers of TAGS apparently decided that the small-town, old-time charm that had previously defined the show was passe'. And so TAGS abandoned its rural southern roots in favor of social relevance. I suppose Helen was at the vanguard of modern progressive education, emphasizing self-expression and constant self-affirmation. Fifty years later, the results of this educational approach are plain for all to see.

The one saving grace of the episode is the performance of Leon Ames. He brings dignity to his role and gives a good argument in favor of elevating students' taste rather than kowtowing to them. I found myself siding firmly with him, which I don't think was the writers' intention

  • but then I'm an incorrigible young fogey.



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