My Thoughts - The Andy Griffith Show: Andy and the Woman Speeder (1961)
Synopsis: When Andy (Andy Griffith) pulls over a woman driver (Jean Hagan) for doing 70 m.p.h. in a 45-m.p.h. zone, she challenges the $10 fine and his role as justice of the peace. Andy agrees to let her appeal to Mayor Pike (Dick Elliott) despite the jail not being equipped to house a female prisoner overnight. However, his case against her begins to fall apart as she charms his three witnesses, Barney (Don Knotts), Floyd (Howard McNear) and Opie (Ron Howard) into testifying on her behalf.
I wonder if Andy should have been investigated for misappropriation of county property. I really find it hard to believe the taxpayers are perfectly fine with him using the county's only patrol car to go fishing, especially since he had his son, his deputy, and the local barber with him.
This, of course, raises another question - what would have happened if had been an emergency? All of Mayberry's law enforcement was out fishing and, at least from appearances, he didn't have anyone manning the phone at the sheriff's office. I know it's Mayberry and there aren't many serious crimes, but they do still have domestic abuse issues and the occasional state patrol visit.
The female speeder, Elizabeth, had a point. Is it really good practice to have the sheriff also serve as a judge, especially when he's the one who made the arrest? Yes, I know the people who know Andy also trust him but, I could see why an outsider would think there is something fishy going on. Plus, what happens if Andy decides to step down? Would they give Barney the same authority?
Of course, the overall power structure is a bit confusing to begin with. I'm still trying to figure out how a mayor of a small town can override something that is county business. It would be one thing had the ticket been written in Mayberry itself, but she was speeding out in the country. How does he have any authority.
What would have happened if they got a male prisoner? Elizabeth got quite a bit of special treatment in there, including Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) locking Andy and Barney out of the jail while Elizabeth was getting changed. How would they have managed things had Otis (Hal Smith) have come staggering in or they arrested a moonshiner? I feel like that would have been an interesting scenario to see.
I don't think Andy was fair to Opie. Yes, he was holding an autographed baseball Elizabeth gave him (does she just carry one of those in her purse?). However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't tell the truth and Andy, of all people, should have been a bit more optimistic about Opie's honesty. Instead, he just dismissed Opie from the stand and assumed his son would also lie.
That being said, does Andy's testimony hold no weight? The mayor overturned the traffic violation because of no witnesses but Andy was the arresting officer and apparently either wasn't asked to testify or his testimony was ignored. And it's not like anyone said she wasn't speeding, they just said they couldn't back him up. Even in that case, I feel like Mayor Pike should have still taken Andy at his word. After all, he's been entrusted with being both a sheriff and justice of the peace. Not believing his side sort of undermines that. Not to mention there was some fairly obvious evidence of witness tampering in Opie's hand.
Final Opinion: Mayberry's power structure always leaves me scratching my head a bit and I do feel like Andy did his son a disservice. However, the episode does still have some funny moments and is worth watching regardless.
My Grade: B+