Monday, April 01, 2013

Car Shopping With Barney

I suppose it was appropriate that the episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled "Barney's First Car" was first aired on April Fool's Day half a century ago.

Because only a fool would make the deal Barney (Don Knotts) made.

He agreed to give his life's savings of $300 (which isn't a whole lot in 2013 but it was a lot in 1963) to a little old lady (delightfully played by Ellen Corby) for her used car. It was the old story — little old lady who supposedly only drove the car to church on Sundays — but, in reality, she was a hustler, and the vehicle she was trying to sell Barney had worn out gears — along with other problems — that, unknown to Barney, had been temporarily restored to their former glory with sawdust in the transmission.

Corby was so convincing she even persuaded gullible Barney that he had the same name as her dear departed husband and, consequently, if Barney bought the car, it would be like someone in the family had it, not a stranger. Andy cautioned Barney to think about it, to at least take the car to a mechanic who would look it over before any money changed hands.

And Corby — in a sly maneuver — suggested the same thing.

But Barney was determined to get a car come hell or high water. Against Andy's advice, Barney bought Corby's story — and the car — and he made plans to take the gang — Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, Thelma Lou and Goober — for a ride so he could show off his new wheels.

It was on that ride in the country that the car finally broke down, and Barney had to admit that he had been taken.

And it was after they finally got the car back to Mayberry that Gomer took a look under the hood and discovered all its problems.

That was all the convincing Andy needed, and he and Barney set out to return the car to the little old lady. But it broke down before they could get there.

Andy volunteered to walk back to a store to call Gomer to bring a tow truck, but someone else came upon the scene and, not seeing Andy and Barney asleep in the back seat, hooked up the supposedly abandoned car and towed it to a garage.

The tow truck turned out to be part of Corby's fleet. In a brilliantly funny conclusion, Andy and Barney arrested the gang — but not before Corby tried to bribe Barney with the offer of a used car that he said "sounds like what I've been looking for."

A gem of an episode.