Andy Griffith appreciated fans of “The Andy Griffith Show.” But Griffith didn’t find it cool when fans saw Griffith and Taylor as the same.
“No, that’s not right,” Griffith says during a 1965 interview with The New York Times. “Andy Taylor contains the best part of myself. The best part. There are other parts of me never seen on the screen. I don’t think that would be wise.”
Taylor reflected a folksy, down-home sense of humor in his interactions. At the same time, the character also reflected a small-town style of ethics that still calls to people’s hearts today.
Mayberry is a city created in a likeness to Mount Airy, N.C., and the city continues to pitch itself in that way.
Andy Griffith Developed Down-Home Comedic Style
Griffith could play Taylor as he did because he had somewhat perfected his own comedic style. You can see pieces of Andy Taylor when Griffith plays Will Stockdale in “No Time For Sergeants.” Also, you can hear it when Griffith would perform classic stand-up comedy bits like “What It Was, Was Football.”
He became so identified with playing the sheriff of Mayberry that sometimes people could not separate the TV character from the human being.
That’s called being typecast and it happens to a lot of sitcom stars. Funny, though, that Griffith had enough adaptability in his career to go on years later and play defense attorney Ben Matlock on NBC’s “Matlock.”
When playing that role, though, there were humorous pieces of Matlock that harkened back to Griffith’s portrayal of Andy Taylor. Fans didn’t seem to matter as young and old alike found something in Ben Matlock that appealed to them.
Griffith Didn’t Want Serious Law Show In ‘Matlock’
Oh, speaking of “Matlock,” the humor on that show was intentional. Andy Griffith really didn’t want that show to fall into the same pattern of other legal shows on TV.
Obviously, the first show of that type that comes to mind for viewers is “Perry Mason.” The show plays it straight down the middle when it came to legal courtroom scenes. Raymond Burr, who portrays Mason, is so good and convincing in his role that some viewers thought he could solve their legal problems.
They forgot that Burr was an actor playing an attorney. Now Mason and Matlock have one thing in common that both were defense attorneys. Beyond that, the comparisons pretty much end.
Andy Griffith wants Ben Matlock to be real, not stilted as Burr’s Mason or other TV lawyers. It was OK for Griffith to have Ben behind bars or, heck, even having hot dog sauce dripping down his blue suit.
When watching “Matlock” and you start laughing, then you’re getting the vibe Griffith wanted with the show which ran for nine seasons.