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A Good Early Entry in the Series
"Those Gossipin' Men" is a wonderful introduction to the town of Mayberry, first aired about halfway through the first season of "The Andy Griffith Show." It shows us a small, peaceful town in which not all of the characters have yet settled into their stereotypical roles: Andy is just as given to jumping to false conclusions as Barney, and Aunt Bee proves her point that men are just as given to jumping to conclusions as women. In some ways, it predates the shows of the 1970s, in which the women have at least--if not more--common sense than the men.
Specifically, a traveling shoe salesman from New York, who doesn't have a very good track record and who is just about to throw in the towel, arrives in town to give his career one more shot. Then, when he asks the local hotel whether he can get a TV in his room (because TV is "very important" to him), Andy and the other fellows come to the conclusion that he is really a talent scout from the Big Apple who's come to Mayberry looking for the next new entertainment sensation. Pretty soon, such characters as Floyd the Barber and his dubiously talented saxophone-playing son are auditioning for him in his hotel room--and that's just the beginning of what snowballs into the salesman setting a record for shoe sales in his company.
This is a great introduction to that wacky fictional town from the past that so many of us in the 21st century would like to emigrate to!
I agree 100% with the first reviewer that this episode marked the end of "The Andy Griffith Show" that so many people remember with such fondness. It's appears obvious to me that the producers and writers of the show were casting about, trying to find a comic replacement for the irreplaceable Don Knotts, and that they were failing miserably in the attempt. In this painful-to-watch episode, Jerry Van Dyke is (as my mother used to say) "about as funny as a crutch." The first reviewer also mentions the fact that the later casting of Jack Burns' unfunny character,"Warren Ferguson," was further proof that the producers were flailing about in an attempt to find a comic foil for "Andy Taylor's" laid-back sheriff.
In my opinion, the powers behind this series should have recognized that it was really an extension of the classic sitcoms of the 1950s, and that, by 1965, it had become a pathetic anachronism in American society. They should have thrown in the towel after Knotts left the show, thereby sparing us and them the painful demise of what was once an extremely entertaining series. Instead, they ran the show into the ground with the introduction of unmemorable new characters--and finally with the lamentable travesty called "Mayberry R.F.D."
A Beautiful Tribute to Georges Méliès
This movie has the look and feel of a wonderful fairytale about an orphaned boy who secretly lives in hidden quarters at Montparnasse Railway Station in Paris at some time shortly after the end of World War I. Here, he sets the station's clocks--a job that his drunken uncle is supposed to be performing.
However, what is a fairytale on the surface actually contains quite a bit of non-fiction, specifically in regard to the great film innovator Georges Méliès. This review will not give too much away about the factual content revealed about Méliès, but the reviewer finds it an ingenious intermingling of fantasy and fact. Therefore, it works on two levels: as beautifully rendered myth about the boy and the various characters he meets at the station, and as a short history lesson about one of the great pioneers of the cinema's earliest years.