The Andy Griffith Show Episode Review: “The Guitar Player Returns”

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 1 television episode that first aired in May 1961.

Synopsis: Guitar player Jim Lindsey (James Best) returns to Mayberry and brags about the success he has had after leaving town to pursue his music career. However, when his car is repossessed and he doesn’t pay his bills, Andy (Andy Griffith) begins to suspect Jim isn’t being completely truthful about his fortunes and, when he discovers Jim is no longer working and out of money, he uses his influence to help the musician get back on his feet.


I had an opportunity to watch this episode a couple nights ago when it was on TV. I had heard of the episode (it’s famous because it’s the last time we see Elinor Donahue as Ellie Walker) but had never actually taken the time to watch it before. After seeing it, I honestly wasn’t as impressed with it as I thought I would be.

One common problem with many episodes from this classic series is they tend to be somewhat predictable, especially when they reuse material from previous episodes. That was definitely the case with this one. It wasn’t hard to figure out Jim was lying about his success (and it gets confirmed relatively quickly in the episode) and, when Andy learns the truth about what happened, it’s easy to guess how he’s going to correct the problem.

That being said, I did appreciate the planned irony with Andy arresting Jim for a minor offense, forcing him to stay locked up and talk to his former band mate, Bobby Fleet (Herb Ellis). This, of course, was similar to the method Andy used to get Jim hired by Bobby Fleet in the first place. But, even with that in mind, the overall episode just never really clicked for me, largely because there wasn’t anything about it that would be considered a surprise twist.

I was also a little disappointed by the fact Ellie kind of faded to the background of this episode, almost to the point she wasn’t much more than a glorified extra. As I said, this is her last appearance on the series (did she run away with Jim?) and it would have been nice to see a bit more of her, especially since I always liked her as Andy’s girlfriend. Of course, the fact she was so easily pushed into the background during many of the scenes could be a bit reason why they got rid of her in the first place.

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Final Opinion

The episode does have some decent moments (especially when Andy arrests Jim). But, overall, it really wasn’t anything special and, other than witnessing the Ellie/Elinor Donahue footnote, it’s not an episode that is worth going out of your way to watch.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 10/12/2018, StevenHelmer
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