Sunday, October 30, 2011

Barney's Double Standard

Opie: I thought Barney had a girl, Thelma Lou.

Andy: He does. This is somebody else.

Opie: Well, what does he need two of them for?

Andy: He doesn't.

That was some set of rules that Barney (Don Knotts) made his long–suffering girlfriend, Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), live by.

In the episode of The Andy Griffith Show that premiered on this day 50 years ago, "Barney on the Rebound," Barney's odd logic was on hilarious display.

He didn't want Thelma Lou to show any affection in public — but he appeared to have no inhibitions about, in Thelma Lou's words, "acting like a silly school boy" for all to see when a pretty girl smiled at him.

The pretty girl, in this case, was played by an actress named Beverly Tyler, who had a largely undistinguished career in TV and the movies in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Her role as Gladys "Melissa" Stevens was nearly her last — just before she retired from show business to marry and raise a family.

Fans of TV from that time might be more inclined to recognize her co–guest star, Jackie Coogan, whose career went back to the days of silent movies but gained his most lasting fame as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family.

Anyway, Barney's embarrassing fawning over Gladys/Melissa after she flirted with him led to a lover's quarrel with Thelma Lou, and the two broke up.
Barney: She's new here. Being an officer it's practically my duty to show her around, right, Andy?

Andy: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Thelma Lou: Just what did you have to show her that she couldn't find herself?

Barney: Oh, lots of things — the stamp machine, the parcel post window, the outgoing air mail slot.

Andy: Oh, yeah, they're hard to find.

Barney decided it was a good idea to put himself on the market, starting with actively courting his new love interest.

What Barney didn't know was that she was already married — to Coogan — and Barney was the intended victim of a bogus breach of promise suit. Coogan's character presented himself initially as the father of "Melissa," not her husband, then sprang into action when the intended victim resisted.

When Barney attempted to wriggle out of his supposed commitment to "Melissa," they tried to sue him. But Andy took a gamble — based strictly on a hunch — and revealed the scam, getting Barney off the hook.

Andy had figured out what was going on, that "Melissa" wasn't really George's daughter — that, in fact, they were married to each other.

But that, he told Barney, wasn't what convinced him.

You'll have to watch the ending for yourself to find out what persuaded Andy!