6 things you never noticed in the Andy Griffith Show favorite ''Mr. McBeevee"
Did you ever catch the reunion of Opie and McBeevee on Happy Days?
The best television shows can make you laugh and make you cry. The truly great ones can do both in a single episode. The mix of comedy and drama in "Mr. McBeevee" is what makes it a highlight of The Andy Griffith Show. Some fans consider it the best single episode, and that's a mighty fine opinion, as Andy himself might say.
"Mr. McBeevee" contains some of young Ron Howard's finest acting — he perfected that chin quiver — and some of the finest parenting seen in classic TV. When Andy tells Barney and Bee, "I do believe in Opie," well, maybe a little something gets in our eyes.
This season-three opener nailed every element of what made The Andy Griffith Show an instant classic. Let's take a closer look.
1. Blackie the imaginary horse did actually make an appearance
The episode opens on Opie galloping around the backyard (more on that space later) on his imaginary horse, which he has named "Blackie." At the kitchen table, Opie describes the horse to Barney as being "big like cowboys have… black all over with a white spot on his nose." This imaginary steed plays a key part in a story about Opie's imagination. Being imaginary, Blackie is never seen. Well, not anymore. Those who watched the episode when it originally aired got to see Blackie poke his head through the kitchen window! Barney, Andy and Opie promoted Jell-O Pudding in one of the advertising spots for a show sponsor. He's just as Opie described!
2. The Taylors must have built a back porch sometime in season three
As we mentioned, "Mr. McBeevee" gives us a rare look at the back of the Taylor home. Clothing dries on a clothesline. Opie's bike stands propped on the grass. A couple of wooden chairs offer a spot to relax. However, one season later, we got another glimpse at the rear of the house in "Bargain Day," when Andy heads out back to check on the freezer. Here we see that the Taylors now have a large back porch! Maybe Andy got a bonus check for Christmas 1962?
3. Barney keeps a file on ''The Hermit''
When Opie sits in the police station and describes his new friend to Barney, pay close attention to the folders behind the boy. You can see that Barney keeps a file on "The Hermit." Could this be his dossier on "Quiet Sam" from season one? Or is it the eerie hermit with the golden arm we hear about in the ghost story during "Back to Nature"?
4. Ron Howard reunited with "Mr. McBeevee" on Happy Days
Astute classic television fans might recognize Karl Swenson as "Mr. McBeevee," even without the actor's mustache. He is best known as Lars Hanson, the founder of Walnut Grove and town elder on Little House on the Prairie. (He also played Eddie Haskell's dad, George, on Leave It to Beaver.) But we are particularly fond of his reunion with Opie himself, Ron Howard! In an early episode of Happy Days, "Richie's Car," Fonzie sells one of his dragsters to Richie, which turns out to be stolen! This lands Richie in the police station, where he confronts a detective played by — you guessed it — Karl Swenson!
…there's even a little in-joke about Blackie
Oh, there's a great little inside joke in that Happy Days scene, as well, that just might be a nod back to "Mr. McBeevee" — at least, we like to think so. Richie wears a shirt covered in horse heads. Blackie?! Perhaps! It is a call back to childhood, certainly. "That's a very cute shirt with the horseys," the Fonz notes. "I had jammies like that."
5. Doc Harvey never appears on The Andy Griffith Show
When Andy tells Barney he too has met Mr. McBeevee, the deputy worries about the sheriff's mental health. He picks up the phone and rings "Doc Harvey." Doc Harvey is never seen throughout The Andy Griffith Show, but does get mentioned from time to time. Doc Harvey's name comes up in "A Wife for Andy" and we learn in "Barney's Physical" that the medical man once prescribed a harness for Asa Breeney that made the sleepy guard a "good half inch taller."
6. Who exactly is Thurston Holmes?
In the closing credits, you will see three names listed under "Cast" — Frances Bavier, Karl Swenson and Thurston Holmes. You might wonder about that last man. After all, the only characters we see in the episode are Andy, Opie, Bee, Barney and McBeevee. Well, it seems as if both Swenson and Holmes were Mr. McBeevee! Holmes was reportedly the stunt double shown climbing the telephone pole. Nice of them to give him a credit!