The Andy Griffith Show Episode Review: The Cow Thief (1962)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 3 television episode that first aired in October 1962.

Synopsis: When a thief manages to steal two cows and Andy (Andy Griffith) has no leads, an impatient Mayor Stoner (Parley Baer) decides to bring in an investigator from the state capital. The investigator (Ralph Bell) is convinced there is a team of thieves stealing the cows. However, Andy forms his own theory and devises a plan to catch the lone thief.


I decided not to go for a walk at lunch today, partly because I realized the cats were starting to get hungry. I went home instead and, since I had a little bit of time, wound up watching this episode.

I had seen this particular episode before and remembered not liking it all that much. However, since I couldn't remember my reasons for not liking it, decided to give it another try. After watching it again, I realized immediately why I didn't like it.

I am going to start out by saying, mostly to be fair, that the overall plot of this episode really isn't that terrible. The whole cow theft story, how it was being pulled off and how Andy ends up catching the thief actually had quite a bit of potential, especially since it required Andy to point out something obvious the "expert" didn't catch.

My problem with this episode is the way the writers told the story. I would have loved to have seen this episode be much more of a mystery, with Andy noticing a clue, springing his trap and the thief being unknown until the very end. Instead, the episode quickly reveals it is parolee Luke Jensen (Malcolm Atterbury) behind the thefts and even shows the audience how he is covering his tracks. This ultimately ruined any chance the episode had of building some suspense because, by the time Andy decided to put his foot down and follow his own lead, it was pretty obvious he would be right.

I also felt as though the episode skipped on a couple details when it came to Jensen, such as where was he keeping the cows he stole and what happened to his beloved dog after he was arrested. The latter, to be honest, actually had me a bit bummed out since I kept picturing his dog being homeless, lonely and starving.

Another big problem I have with this episode is the same one I have with many from this time period of the series, Mayor Stoner. Seriously, what the heck is that man's problem? Again, I could understand him thinking of Andy as some sort of hick if he was from out of town. But, considering he is a resident of Mayberry who should be familiar with Andy, I just can't see why he is so quick to dismiss the sheriff. In other words, he's an antagonist that just doesn't quite fit.

Final Opinion

I think this episode had some potential. I am just not a fan of the decision to give the audience so much information so soon. It made a potentially great episode into something a bit more average.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 06/17/2019, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 07/19/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.

The library system here does have The Andy Griffith Show among its Blu-ray and DVD collections.

In particular, I like your concern about bovine and canine well-being.

How would this episode (with the welcome changes that you suggest), and in fact the entire series, fare nowadays?

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