Thursday, May 10, 2012

The End of an Era

A few days ago, George Lindsey died at the age of 83. If you are under the age of 30, you probably don’t know who he is. His passing didn’t receive a great deal of media coverage. But, for many in my generation, he was an icon—a symbol of the Golden Era of television. Lindsey played the character of Goober Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show from 1964 to 1968. He later played the same character on Mayberry FRD and on Hee Haw. In fact, he made a career that spanned 30 years playing Goober.

Goober was one of the most beloved characters ever created for television. A few years ago, George Lindsey was quoted as saying, “Goober is every man, everyone finds something to like about ol` Goober.” Yes, Goober was somewhat of a goofball, and he certainly provided the comic relief. But his character was also full of charm, warmth, and humanity. Goober had an unusual way of presenting a unique brand of wisdom that we just don’t see in today’s current network TV shows.

His character had an innocence that we also don’t see today. The passing of George Lindsey represents somewhat the end of an era. Those who were involved in the early days of television both behind the camera and in front of the camera are fading away. And we are definitely losing something valuable. Not only the people, but also maybe something that's hard to put in words.

It seems these days television shows have to be provocative and edgy. Nothing is innocent anymore. Our culture demands that our kids must grow up faster than ever. I think I was fortunate growing up in the 60’s. The shows I watched were fun and entertaining and allowed me to be a kid. I’m not sure we will ever see shows again like The Wonderful World of Disney, My Three Sons, Gilligan’s Island, Gomer Pyle, USMC, Gunsmoke, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, Mr. Ed., My Favorite Martian, Bonanza, Lassie, and, of course, The Andy Griffith Show.

I can’t imagine any showrunner (that’s a producer in TV speak) having the guts to pitch a show like The Andy Griffith Show to any TV executive today. It’s just not going to happen. We are certainly witnessing the end of an era with the passing of George Lindsey. I’m not suggesting that every television show has to be squeaky clean, there certainly is a place for programming that makes us think about the social issues and the problems we face in life. But it would be nice if we had the opportunity from time-to-time to have a chance to visit with characters like Goober, Andy, and Barney. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

What’s wrong with a little innocence? Do our kids need to know everything at such an early age? Let’s face it. There is no safe place on network television these days. If the program content doesn’t get you, you can bet there will be some inappropriate commercial or promo. It’s a shame and a tragedy.

The good news is shows like Andy Griffith are available on DVD. They are to be treasured, and we should be thankful that there is something good to watch on our modern day, high definition, widescreen TV’s. All we have to do is insert a disc to visit Mayberry or Gilligan’s Island.

Thanks George for the memories!

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