Here's how The Andy Griffith Show shaped Matlock

Character-based comedy was the golden rule.

There's hardly any precedence for the late-career renaissance enjoyed by Andy Griffith. Sure, there are other examples of actors scoring another hit after a couple of years, but none seem to be nearly as culturally big. When it first aired, and as its legacy grew in re-runs, The Andy Griffith Show was huge. Its place was almost immediately cemented as an important, memorable show. Then, in the '80s, Griffith returned in a big way as Ben Matlock, another homespun but competent authority figure. 

For his part, Griffith seemed just as surprised as anyone else.

In 1994, Andy Griffith spoke to Associated Press writer Estes Thompson. The conversation compared and contrasted both shows, while also touching Griffith's continued legacy in the public's mind.

"I'll certainly never do anything, I don't imagine, that'll last like this has," said Griffith of The Andy Griffith Show. At the time of the interview, the actor was 68 years old. "Everything about [The Andy Griffith Show] seemed to work." 

TAGS aired 249 episodes throughout its run between 1960 and 1968. By the time of this interview, Griffith's Matlock had already surpassed his former show in the number of episodes produced. 

There were tonal differences between the two shows. But Griffith learned a lot from his former series and was proud to apply one particular lesson to Matlock. Specifically, Griffith knew that The Andy Griffith Show employed character-based comedy, rather than relying on gags. 

"That's why when people see it for a second, third, fourth or fifth time and they can say, 'Watch what he does here,' and they can laugh every time."

A key difference in Matlock's presentation was the lack of a formal comedic relief. While Barney was always there to make us laugh, Ben Matlock had to serve double duty as both the voice of reason and the comedic character.

"This character has real feet of clay," Griffith said of Ben Matlock. "This character is very vain. This character is very cheap, cheap in every way... He thinks he looks great in these grey suits. He thinks he has a wonderful figure."

Watch Matlock on MeTV!

Weekdays at 10 AM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Runeshaper 4 months ago
They were both very interesting shows with totally different character leads, played by the same talented actor.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?