Why the No. 1 ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Episode on IMDb Is Such a Hit With Fans

One of classic television’s greatest comedy series, The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight years on CBS beginning in 1960. Griffith starred as Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor and Don Knotts as his loyal sidekick Deputy Barney Fife. Through the years, the show has hardly waned in its popularity with viewers since its debut.

Any die-hard show fan can name their favorite episode on the spot. From “Opie the Birdman,” to “The Pickle Story” to “Barney’s First Car,” there are plenty to choose from.

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), however, one episode of the series is rated best among all the rest. Here’s more on that beloved ep and the likely reasons for its landing on the database’s top spot.

Left to right: Actors Andy Griffith and Don Knotts in a scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show'
A scene from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | CBS via Getty Images

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ has aged well with time

With Andy Griffith as the sheriff without a gun in Mayberry, the comedy was a hit with viewing audiences. It consistently remained a top 10 show in its years on the air.

As Griffith historian Richard Kelly explained in his book, The Andy Griffith Show, fans’ love for the program remains high. “The reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, which began in 1964, are still among the most-watched daytime shows in the country,” he wrote.

“It is astonishing to think that a series with no sex and no violence has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of viewers.”

‘Convicts-at-Large’ is IMDb’s top-rated episode of the ‘Griffith Show’

In this eleventh episode of the show’s third season, the action mostly took place outside of town in a country cabin. And it kicks off with the breakout of three female prisoners from jail.

Andy learns of their escape via a radio bulletin in the town courthouse. “These women are not armed but can be dangerous,” the announcer says. “The leader is big Maude Tyler, 5 feet 6 inches tall, dark hair, weight 175 pounds. Known as Big Maude Tyler, Clarice Tyler, Maude Clarice Tyler, Annabelle Tyler, and Ralph Henderson.”

Barney and Mayberry barber Floyd, who had been fishing together and ran out of gas, are caught by the convicts and held captive in the cabin.

While Floyd seems to practically enjoy the “visit” with the escaped prisoners and goes along with their demands to shop for food, Barney tries with no success to get out of the situation. Back in town, Andy runs into the cabin’s owner, realizes something is afoot, and helps orchestrate the prisoners’ capture.

The main reason ‘Convicts-at-Large’ is the top IMDb episode

The episode earned a 9.3 rating on IMDb’s site thanks largely to actor Howard McNear’s performance as Floyd Lawson, Mayberry’s friendly, easily ruffled, and slightly gossipy barber, as Kelly noted.

“[McNear’s portrayal of Floyd] is funny because he sees things in an eccentric way and because he delivers his staccato lines with a mastery of timing,” Kelly wrote. “He also looks funny, always startled by the ordinary events going on around him. … In the episode in which he and Barney are captured by three female escaped convicts, we find Floyd making himself at home in the midst of a dangerous situation.”

At one point in the episode, one of the prisoners forces Barney to dance with her. McNear as Floyd is completely unconcerned for their safety, and “watches them admiringly as he peels and eats a banana … Like a child, he is caught up in the music, in the moment, and loses sight of the entire situation,” the author observed.

McNear and Knotts’ hilarious performances clearly resonated with fans, earning it the distinction as IMDb’s top Griffith Show episode.

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