I am aware that some here have not had the opportunity to see MAYBERRY RFD. Except for a run on TVLand in the late 1990s, a stint on the regional cable network Turner South, and isolated local stations, it hasn't been easy to visit this TAGS sequel during the past four decades.
For those of us who have seen it, or only some of it, which episodes have you enjoyed? And why? Let's rekindle our memories, and share so that fans unfamiliar with RFD can enjoy too.
I'll start off with an atypical episode called "Palm Springs Cowboy." A few episodes in RFD's 2nd season took place in Palm Springs CA. A gimmickly plot device, it starts out with an old Mayberry friend (played by Ruth McDevitt, but not as Mrs. Pendleton) of Bee's asking her to house-sit in Palm Springs for a few weeks; some years earlier, she left Mayberry after marrying a millionaire. Sam, Mike, Millie, Goober, Howard and Emmett (a little hard to believe that Martha lets Emmett go without her) go along for the trip.
In "Palm Springs Cowboy," the gang visits a dude ranch run by a former singing cowboy movie star named King Beaumont. Dick Foran plays King, who's modeled on B-movie stars like Monte Hale. His former costars are sidekick Shorty played by Bill McClean, reminiscent of Fuzzy Knight and Shug Fisher; and Jeanne Bates as Jennie Mae, a combination of all the screen cowboys' girlfriends.
Dick Foran is a favorite actor of mine who in his career costarred with Bogart, Bette Davis, Abbott & Costello, W. C. Fields, and many more; a fine voice, he spent his share of time as a singing cowboy at Warners, Universal, and the poverty row studios. So, this casting alone makes this one of my favorite RFDs.
The Mayberry gang's neighbor is a prominent Hollywood producer, and Howard gets the idea to help King sell one of his movie scripts, in an attempt to bring the singing cowboy genre movie back into vogue.
Another reason I like this episode is, Howard's plan fails. In a rare Mayberry moment, the plot isn't tied up with a ribbon. We're left with a bittersweet ending... but, it's not sad or too disappointing, because as it turns out, King is content with his retired life. And proud of the work he and his peers did in Hollywood. The story ends with him serenading our Mayberry-ites with one of his songs, and a smile on everyone's face... including the viewers.
I'm not a big fan of TAGS' 6th season Hollywood episodes, and this RFD story arc risked the same disappointment. "Palm Springs Cowboy" took a further chance by deviating from a typical Mayberry ending, but it happily succeeded. Even though we're in Palm Springs, this episode's look at the old movie cowboys makes it feel like we're still in Mayberry.