My Thoughts - The Andy Griffith Show: The Shoplifters (1964)
Synopsis: When Ben Weaver (Tol Avery) reports thefts at his store, Andy (Andy Griffith) believes it is the work of shoplifters. Barney (Don Knotts) decides to take matters into his own hands by dressing up as a mannequin so he can catch the thieves in the act.
My Thoughts -
This episode exposes a major flaw with the way Andy runs things as sheriff. While he and Barney were sitting in the patrol car gossiping, nobody was manning the phone at the courthouse. Even though Ben was able to find them, what if they had been patrolling outside of town? And it's not as though they could justify having two people on patrol in a relatively crime-free town like Mayberry.
I kind of think Ben had a point when he criticized Andy about having to do his job for him. Andy didn't seem to be taking the whole theft thing too seriously and I could understand why Ben might be upset about that, especially when Andy mentioned calling if there was anything suspicious when, moments before, Ben was complaining about not being able to reach anyone at the courthouse.
The misunderstanding at Weaver's store was pretty funny. It was great how both Ben and Barney thought the other one was a gang of criminals. Of course, I'm not really sure why one of them didn't just turn on a light. Ben would have known where the switch was.
That being said, the whole incident probably could have been avoided had Andy been a bit smarter. There were only a few items stolen and, as he pointed out, that likely meant shoplifters. Yet, not that long before, he was the one suggesting a night-time robbery based on the exact same evidence. Make up your mind, Andy.
Barney makes a surprisingly believable mannequin. Had Don Knotts not been so recognizable, I probably would have been fooled. It's just too bad that pipe smoke had to ruin it. I wonder if that's one of the reasons why stores don't allow smoking anymore.
Once again, Barney proves to be a better lawman than he's given credit for. His arrest technique probably left a little to be desired, but he did finger the right person. But I'm sure Andy will wrongfully get credit for the arrest.
Final Opinion: There are some classic Barney Fife moments in this episode that make it worth watching, though there are also some moments that do bring Andy's sheriff skills into question.
My Grade: B+