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The Andy Griffith Show's seventh season (1966-67) was the beginning of the end for the venerable family comedy (Griffith brought it to a close with the next season), but the gentle humor and likable characters that helped make it one of the most popular series on television are still in fine form. Chief among the season's plusses is a two-episode return visit from Don Knotts as Barney Fife--in "A Visit to Barney Fife," Andy helps his former deputy find his footing at his new precinct in Raleigh, North Carolina, while in "Barney Comes to Mayberry," Barney reunites with his old flame, Irene Flogg, now a glamorous movie star. The latter episode, among the most popular of the series, won Knotts his fifth Emmy for portraying Barney. Otherwise, it's business as usual in Mayberry, with series regulars Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee), George Lindsey (Goober), Hal Smith (Otis), and a very grown-up Ron Howard (Opie) delivering their usual warm and funny performances. The show's new face, Jack Dodson (later Mickey Malph on Happy Days) fares considerably better as a Barney substitute than the ill-fated Jack Burns; as mother-dominated town clerk Howard Sprague, Dodson gets some very funny moments, especially in "Howard the Comedian," where he embarrasses the citizens of Mayberry with his TV standup debut. Also on hand: Aneta Corsaut as Helen Crump, Denver Pyle and the Dillards as the hillbilly collective known as the Darling Family, and an ailing Howard McNear as Floyd the barber; McNear had suffered a stroke and lost much of his mobility, but Griffith made arrangements that allowed him to continue on the show in a more relaxed capacity. Though perhaps not up to par with its earlier, black-and-white episodes, the seventh season of The Andy Griffith Show still has plenty of what made the show an enduring classic: low-key charm and homespun humor. The five-disc set has no supplemental features.

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