The same TV Guide issue with Lucille Ball kept popping up on The Andy Griffith Show
Walker's Drugstore didn't always stock the latest magazines.
Magazines provide a popular form of entertainment in Mayberry. Barney Fife subscribes to Learn-A-Lot, shucking out a quarter for each issue to keep his brain stocked with odd facts — for example, there are more stars in the heavens than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the whole world. How else would he know that horses' eyes are the same size at birth as they are fully grown?
It seems, however, that there might be a reason why the deputy subscribes to the magazine, instead of just picking it up at Walker's Drugstore on his way to the courthouse. Attentive fans of The Andy Griffith Show have noticed that Ellie's place of employment doesn't update their magazines very often.
If you pay attention in certain episodes of the first season, you'll notice the same magazines are used to dress the wall, and the issue that stands out most is probably a famous cover of TV Guide featuring Lucille Ball, which you can see in at least three different episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.
The first time we see it is in "The Horse Trader," when you see Lucy peeking over the door as Andy enters:
That's the 14th episode of the first season. Lucy shows up again in the very next episode "These Gossipin' Men," this time much bigger and in better focus, it's practically a cameo for the comedy icon:
Finally, Lucy makes a third appearance in the hilarious and highly influential episode "Cyrano Andy," where a misguided game of matchmaker ends up with Andy and Barney accidentally wooing each other's ladies. Here's Barney making quite the entrance in Walker's Drugstore before a particularly snicker-inducing scene:
You might think, "What's the big deal? They probably filmed all those episodes on the same set." Well, if you look closely in the photos, you'll notice the dolls propped up next to the TV Guide issue change, from a stuffed St. Bernard to various big-eyed dolls. Some of the hanging magazines change out, too.
This makes it seem clear that this display was routinely recreated and Lucy's TV Guide placement was on purpose, intended to perhaps pay homage to the 1950s' biggest TV star.
The issue in question is from October 9–15, 1954, seven years before these first season episodes of The Andy Griffith Show aired, which is why it's unlikely anybody in Mayberry would've been stopping by to scoop up this particular TV Guide issue. Nobody in 1961 would be paging through to find out when they could catch the I Love Lucy episode "Mertz and Kurtz," which first aired October 11, 1954, the week of this issue.
So while spotting the familiar TV Guide again and again is a fun Easter egg for Lucy fans watching Andy's show, it's definitely also a sign that Walker's Drugstore wasn't where you picked up the latest magazine. We'd have to ask a Mayberry resident where Andy got his copies of National Geographic, Boating and Sheriff's Magazine, his favorite glossies to page through on a lazy Sunday.