The Andy Griffith Show first aired on CBS in 1960. For those of you too young to remember, this classic situation comedy was packed full with characters not unlike those found in any small town in the U.S. The lead character, Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Andy Griffith, was a widower bringing up his son with the help of Aunt Bee. Although he was Sheriff, Mayberry NC was already crime-free. This allowed Andy plenty of time to deal with the various situations that arose – and Mayberry’s many odd-ball characters.
One of the characters, introduced three years into the show’s long run, was dim-witted gas pump attendant, Gomer Pyle. Like many of the show’s characters, he had his own quirky ways and his own catchphrases like “Shazam!”. Gomer, played by actor and, to this day, highly accomplished singer Jim Nabors, was so popular he was given his own show, Gomer Pyle USMC. This was a time when the tv spin-off was a very rare thing.
As the life of a gas pump attendant may produce limited story lines, it was decided that Gomer Pyle would enlist in the marines. The contrast between Gomer’s limited abilities and the drill sergeant, Vince Carter’s abruptness and impatience was the backdrop to the many funny lines penned by various screenwriters under the watchful eyes of the show’s Midas touch creator Aaron Ruben and highly successful producer Sheldon Leonard.
Gomer Pyle was a constant pain in the side of Sergeant Carter (played by Frank Sutton). He would often misunderstand the instructions that Carter gave him and generally botch even the simplest of tasks. He would more often than not get himself and his sergeant into all kinds of scrapes and sometimes would (often unwittingly) save the day.
Sergeant Carter’s attempts to knock the bumbling Gomer into shape constantly back-fired to the point where the sergeant himself was at his wits end. Despite this constant battle, Carter obviously developed a sneaky regard for Gomer and this only added to the depth of the comedy.
Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. is a classic comedy from 60’s television. Some say that this remains the best situation comedy to come out of that decade. Many spin-offs do not live up to the promise of the original host show. In this case it certainly matched the wonderfully gentle but wacky Andy Griffith Show from which it emerged.
As with most of the work produced by Sheldon Leonard, the show had a long stay as a top-rated show and ended its run in 1969.
Source by Vernon Stent