Monday, January 27, 2014

Bringing Out the Biker in Barney

Barney (Don Knotts): If you ride with your mouth open in the wind and put your tongue against the roof of your mouth, it's impossible to pronounce a word that begins with the letter 's.'

Andy (Andy Griffith): You didn't let anyone see you riding with your mouth open?

Whenever Barney went to an auction, it was usually bad news for Andy.

On one occasion, he returned with gypsy cards and other items used for contacting the spirits of the dead — and managed to contact a ghost that granted Opie three wishes.

And 50 years ago tonight, he came back to Mayberry from a war surplus auction with a motorcycle with a sidecar.

The sheriff's office had been getting complaints about speeders, and Barney had the idea that the motorcycle could be used for trapping speeders and all sorts of official functions — as well as some functions that were not official, such as "going back and forth to the store."

The new addition to the Mayberry motor pool encountered considerable resistance from the citizens.

Along with the verbal gags, the townsfolk engaged in a little sabotage. When Barney was about to take Andy to the diner in the motorcycle, they unfastened the sidecar so, when Barney accelerated the motorcycle, the sidecar stayed where it was (with Andy sitting in it). That drew a hearty laugh from everyone, including Andy.

There was greater backlash in store.

When Barney enforced speed limits on truckers with whom local law enforcement had always had an understanding that a little leeway was needed to get over a steep hill, there was pushback. The truckers began driving through town at night, making noise and keeping everyone awake.

They certainly succeeded in keeping everyone in the Taylor household awake.

"I have a feeling it's their way of saying hello to Barney and his new motorcycle," Andy told Aunt Bee and Opie.

Andy knew he had to do something about the motorcycle, and he drew inspiration from the simplest thing — Opie's woodburning set.

Viewers became aware that Opie had a woodburning set earlier in the episode so its introduction as the resolution of the story wasn't abrupt. But Andy's solution to the problem of the motorcycle probably did surprise some viewers.

Andy used the woodburning set to burn what appeared to be an historical claim onto a piece of wood and then placed it under the sidecar's seat cushion. The claim was that the motorcycle had played an important role in an historically prominent battle during World War I.

Andy pretended to find it, showed the plaque to Barney, suggested that it had been made on the battlefield, burned into the wood with a bayonet, and made the case that the motorcycle belonged on display. Grudgingly, Barney agreed.

And the problem was solved.