My Thoughts - The Andy Griffith Show: The Clubmen (1961)
Synopsis: Andy (Andy Griffith) scores an invite to visit the exclusive Esquire Club and an excited Barney (Don Knotts) tags along with him with the hopes they both will be accepted as members. However, the overzealous deputy does not make a great first impression with the club's members.
I loved this episode's opening sequence, with Barney trying to hide the fact he was sleeping on the job and Andy doing his best to hide the fact he knew. Later in the episode, his reaction to Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) tying up the phone was equally funny. Stuff like that is why this show just wasn't as good after Don Knotts left.
There Andy goes neglecting his duties again. Even Floyd (Howard McNear) questioned who would be running the sheriff's office with both Andy and Barney out of town. I get it, Mayberry doesn't have a lot of crime, other than maybe the local town drunk needing a place to sleep things off, but that doesn't mean there couldn't be a traffic accident or something else that needs law enforcement.
The whole Esquire Club thing probably would be more interesting if I understood the overall appeal. Maybe it's a generational thing and the fact I didn't grow up when clubs like that were more prominent, but I feel like a better description about what it did and why people would want to join it (other than just being able to say they were members) would have been beneficial.
I'd like to see a television show change things up a bit with this overused plot. To be fair, this show has been around long enough for the idea of a club accepting one friend while excluding another to be somewhat unique at the time. However, it's been done quite a few times since and, just once, I'd like the see the less obvious friend get rejected, in this case, Andy.
On that point, why was Andy a good fit? The members, at least from the brief amount of info the episode gives, seemed to be businessmen who were interested in things like golf. He might have passed the introduction, but I find it hard to believe he would have enough in common with everyone else to not eventually stick out like a sore thumb and I doubt he'd gain anything worthwhile from it either.
Why would Andy tell Barney only one of them was accepted? I feel like maybe he should have just said both of them were turned down. It turns out it didn't matter but, had Barney been slightly smarter, it could have created some issues between them.
Well, there's an ending that didn't age well. It was admittedly funny with the way it was set up, but I'm sure a "club" that involves dressing up like Native Americans wouldn't fly today. No real comment on that other than pointing out how much things have changed in the past 61 years.
Final Opinion: The overall plot is more than a bit dated. However, Don Knotts is at his best and that does make it worth watching.
My Grade: B