Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Andy Griffith Show - Opie's Hobo Friend (1962)

When a hobo named David Browne comes to Mayberry he meets Andy and Opie fishing. They strike up a conversation with Mr. Browne, who is played by Buddy Ebsen, known universally as the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz”. Andy and Opie both take an instant liking to this affable man, but Barney is instantly suspicious of Mr. Browne, and brings him in on a vagrancy charge.

But Andy sees something more in this drifter, and even offers him a place to stay and some odd jobs in order to earn some cash. But there’s trouble in Mayberry as Mr. Browne regales Opie with stories of magic and shows him how to take the short cuts in life. His favorite word in the English language is tomorrow. There is nothing, in his estimation, that can’t be put off until then.  When Opie begins to cut school and slack in his chores, Sheriff Taylor is forced to confront Mr. Browne, who is clearly becoming a bad influence on Opie.
But just as you think you know this drifting man, he does something very noble. Knowing that being forced to leave town will only cause a rift between the Sheriff and Opie, Mr. Browne engineers his own expulsion from town by giving Barney just the excuse he needs to run him off. And though it breaks Opie’s heart to lose his new found friend, he is cognizant of the right and wrong involved.

These old Andy Griffith shows are like Sunday sermons. They each convey a message of tolerance, while at the same time delineating the fine line between right and wrong. Buddy Ebsen, of course,  would go on to portray Uncle Jed in “The Beverly Hillbillies” later that same year, a role he would play for the next 8 seasons.   

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