‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How Transitioning From Black and White to Color Changed Everything

by Matthew Wilson

The Andy Griffith Show” came at a time of transition among the United States and its multimedia. Networks switched from black and white to color television. During this time period, many shows made the change. But “The Andy Griffith Show” had markedly the biggest change.

There are entire forums and Reddit pages of fans discussing why they hate the colorized seasons. Ultimately, many people rally against change. For a number of reasons, “The Andy Griffith Show” that premiered in 1965 wasn’t the same one audiences fell in love with back in 1960.

Mayberry had a new sheen and glow and was more vibrant than it had ever been. For the first time, it looked like a town right down the road. Mayberry was always supposed to represent small-town America and its simple charms. But the black and white era almost mythologized that. Mayberry felt more like an ideal, a way of living. The lack of color created a mood and a sense of place. For later generations, the black and white imagery created a sense of nostalgia, a longing for a time that never quite existed like it did on TV.

Don Knotts Leaves ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Changing to color stripped the show a bit of its charm and gave it a little too much modern sensibility. But many shows made the change to color mid-run with the later seasons still revered. What made “The Andy Griffith Show” so different was the additional changes that came with the colorized seasons.

Don Knotts and his lovable Barney Fife were gone except for the occasional guest appearance. His friendship with Andy Taylor formed the heart of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Additionally, the outside world entered the show a little too much in its later seasons. For instance, the small-town sheriff went to Hollywood during one notable arc. The charms of Mayberry felt upended.

Another key reason is Griffith looked slightly bored in his role, made more noticeable by the change to color. It was as if the actor too was tiring of Mayberry or at least the one without Fife and its black and white hues. Griffith only stayed on for an additional three seasons before leaving and transitioning the show into a spinoff.

But the colorized seasons do have their supporters as well. It’s true that Mayberry never looked so crisp and colorful as it did in the later seasons. Additionally, the later seasons introduced some notable additions to the show even if the last three seasons ended up feeling like a sequel to “The Andy Griffith Show” rather than a continuation.