Synopsis: When a down-on-his-luck banjo player, Jerry, (Jerry Van Dyke) is fired from his carnival show, Andy (Andy Griffith), at Aunt Bee’s (Frances Bavier) insistence, hires him as a temporary deputy while Barney (Don Knotts) is out of town. However, Andy is quick to decide he made a mistake when Jerry appears to be unable to carry out his deputy duties the way he wants him to.
The Andy Griffith Show Episode Review: “Banjo-Playing Deputy”
A review of the season 5 television episode that first aired in May 1965.
Last night was the first time I had a chance to watch this episode, which I thought was kind of funny considering I’ve seen the episode that precedes it “Opie and the Carnival” probably a half dozen times and this episode is, in many ways, a continuation of that one. And, overall, I thought it was an entertaining episode to watch.
I, admittedly, didn’t recognize Jerry Van Dyke when I first started watching this episode but he did bring the same energy to his guest appearance I’ve come to expect from some of the other roles I’ve watched him in. This series always seemed to lose something whenever Don Knotts’ Barney Fife was written out of an episode and Van Dyke’s performance in this one did manage to compensate for that. It’s just too bad the show wasn’t able to make him a cast regular.
One thing I also found I liked about this episode was the fact it wasn’t overly predictable. Yes, it was pretty obvious the character, Jerry, was going to be a bad fit at deputy, especially since it’s not like he had any actual police training or anything like that. In fact, Andy, at times, seemed to be a little too trusting of a guy he literally just hired off the street.
However, despite that, the episode did manage to have a few surprises, including the opportunity, at the very end of the episode, for Jerry to redeem himself. In fact, that scene was actually pretty entertaining to watch because it allowed for him to solve the issue in a way only his character could.
As I said before, last night was the first time I had a chance to watch this particular episode from this series and, both because of a well-written plot and an excellent performance by Van Dyke, it did prove to be worth watching. If nothing else, it does give the viewer a glimpse of what the show could have been in the later seasons had they been able to keep Van Dyke as a permanent replacement for Knotts when he left the series.
My Grade: A
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