Don Knotts: ''there'll be some Barney Fife'' in Matlock character Les Calhoun

Andy Griffith stacked the cards in his favor by casting his friend.

Lawyer dramas are serious business, but Andy Griffith was born to make people laugh. 

So, even though Matlock was always rooted in a familiar lawyer-drama format, the show was unique in its humor. That was the special blend that made it an enduring hit. It wasn't Perry Mason, and it wasn't The Andy Griffith Show, either. Instead, it was somewhere in between. 

To perfect the balance, Griffith called in a secret weapon for Matlock's season 3 premiere. Don Knotts was introduced as Ben Matlock's new next-door neighbor. Les Calhoun, the retired "King of Plastics", was embroiled in a murder scheme with two used car salesmen. He became a series regular, appearing in 17 episodes. 

An October 1988 edition of the Orlando Sentinel includes reports of an NBC news conference announcing Knotts' debut on Matlock.

"Don Knotts is the best comic actor I ever met, and I play straight for him better than any man in the business," said Griffith.

"I can't live without comedy. This show will always be what it is — a courtroom mystery — but what's important to me is what happens along the way. When we can get something offbeat, that appeals to me."

By '88, Knotts was already an "offbeat" legend.

"Playing Barney Fife is the most fun I ever had with a character," said Knotts.

"Barney Fife was tailored to Don Knotts and this guy Calhoun will be tailored to the same guy. There'll be some Barney Fife in him, but he'll be 30 years older."




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7 Comments

harlow1313 14 days ago
I find Ralph Furley and the program, "Three's Company," to be unwatcahble.

Ditto for Les Calhoun and the program, "Matlock." Unwatchable.

Curmudgeon, I.
Three's Company is just awful. I am always waiting for METV to add it to the schedule. During covid when I worked from home I would tune into METV starting with Dragnet. I did happen to see Matlock. It's okay but I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it.
Erinkittle harlow1313 12 days ago
I agree, Three’s Company is awful. John Ritter has zero acting ability. The only thing he can do is fall down, bump into walls and furniture, drop things, etc. Every episode is same old, same old. 👎
Wiseguy70005 Erinkittle 12 days ago
And every episode of Matlock is SO different: three suspects, Matlock wins, hot dogs.
Can't MeTV viewers change channels or at least have some knowledge of other networks? Three's Company has been on AntennaTV for years. MeTV won't be showing it any time soon.
I live in a different country and don’t have access to Antenna TV so I would have no knowledge on who is airing Three’s Company.
Runeshaper 14 days ago
Griffith and Knotts made a GREAT team!
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