Thoughts from The Andy Griffith Show Episode The Horse Trader (1961)
Synopsis: Andy's (Andy Griffith) efforts to sell an old cannon to an antique dealer (Max Showalter) directly conflicts with the advice he gave to Opie (Ron Howard) about being honest when trading with his friends.
I think the thing that really stands out for me about this episode has to be the ridiculousness of trying to sell something as useless as a broken cannon. I'm not sure why Mayor Pike (Dick Elliott) thought Andy and Barney (Don Knotts) had nothing better to do than sell it but watching them try to peddle it door to door was kind of funny.
Frankly, I feel like the council was a little too quick to dismiss Ellie's (Elinor Donahue) idea of donating the cannon to the historical museum. I mean, all someone would have had to do was clean it up a bit and it would be a decent exhibit. I wonder if the reason her idea was shot down so quickly was the fact she is the only woman on the council.
Andy's decision to try to sell the cannon as a historical artifact was an intriguing choice. Part of the reason was he did it while Opie was in earshot of him, which seemed like an awful lesson to be teaching his son, especially since he had just lectured Opie about doing the exact same thing. The other part of it is it was a fairly bold move considering the town of Mayberry thinks of him as its most honest citizen and, even after coming clean later, I feel like that quick lie tarnishes that reputation.
I was glad to see Barney be one of the people opposed to Andy's tactics. Barney reminds me a lot of Gilligan (Bob Denver). People think less of him because of his mistakes even though they aren't necessarily perfect themselves. This episode, in a small way, redeemed him a bit because it was Andy who ultimately was the guy screwing up.
So why did Mayberry have that cannon to begin with? This part of the episode confused me a bit. The cannon, as the episode established, had zero historical significance. However, Mayor Pike said the cannon was going to be replaced with a donated plague, something that suggests the town had it for something other than decoration purposes. I kind of feel like there really was a story behind that cannon and the $20 the antique dealer ultimately paid was a steal.
Final Opinion: This is one of my favorite season 1 episodes from this series, partly because of the lesson that gets taught to the sheriff but mostly because of the memorable scenes involving Andy and Barney trying to sell that cannon the way you would expect someone to sell a vacuum cleaner.
My Grade: A