One time Mayberry troublemaker Otis got double the punishment for no real reason
How could Andy and Barney commit such injustice! Mayberry owes Otis $2.
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One of the sweetest episodes of The Andy Griffith Show is "Bringing Up Opie," wherein Aunt Bee decides Opie shouldn't be spending so much time around the jail. This happens after Opie handcuffs a classmate to a flagpole.
It's an episode that really focuses on what justice means in the eyes of a child. In idyllic Mayberry, that penchant for making moral choices and knowing clearly between right and wrong was the way.
And in the very same episode, we see that poor choices have consequences when Otis Campbell once again turns up a little tipsy in Mayberry, a dry town where drinking is not allowed. Of course, this happens a lot, and in this scene, Andy gives Otis his next choice.
"Now, the fine is two dollars or twenty-four hours," Andy tells Otis. "Now, what'll it be?"
Otis’ response is classic Otis: "Andy, you know I always take the twenty-four hours. I wouldn't waste two dollars on somethin' that didn't have a cork in it."
This first-season episode references a joke that recurs throughout the show as Otis brings himself into the Mayberry jail time and again, locking himself in for 24 hours without being asked. All to spare $2 when he inevitably gets caught.
However, in an earlier episode of The Andy Griffith Show, this choice of a fine or jail time had apparently not yet been established for Otis.
In the episode "Alcohol and Old Lace," Andy and Barney are trying to rid the town of moonshiners and they're pretty sure they've succeeded. Then Otis turns up in his typical state, and something very strange happens.
On his way into the jail cell, Otis shoves $2 into Andy's hand, without being prompted, as if this was the norm. Andy holds onto the cash, astonished that Otis has found the moonshiners still operating under Andy and Barney's careful watch, and Otis closes himself into the cell. That's right — he paid the fine and did the time!
This may be the only time in the history of the show when Otis gets double the punishment for his usual crime. Where's the justice in that, Anj?
In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Don Knotts recalled how gifted Hal Smith was in the comedic role of Otis. "Hal Smith played Otis, the town drunk who’d come in and lock himself in jail," Knotts said. He started laughing in the interview as he went on to say, "A very funny character and Hal was very good at it."
Knotts said around set that Smith was by far the best storyteller. "I never saw Hal when he didn’t have a new story to tell ya," Knotts said. "I don’t know where he got them all. Funny guy, very enjoyable."
Considering how much entertainment Hal Smith brought onscreen and off, do you think Mayberry owes Otis $2?