Following the I Love Lucy Christmas Special that showed two episodes in technicolor, another iconic television show will also air two colorized classic episodes. The New York Post shared that for the first time, the “The Christmas Story” (1960) and “The Pickle Story” (1961) episodes from The Andy Griffith Show will be shown in color. Apparently, colorizing these shows is popular with viewers because 7.4 million viewers watched the I Love Lucy episodes, which made them that night’s top-rated show.
Hidden Remote noted that the one-hour special will begin with the holiday favorite “The Christmas Story,” a heartwarming episode from The Andy Griffith Show. Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and his deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) plan to spend a holiday at home with their family and friends. That plan is thwarted when Ben Weaver, also known as the town Scrooge, insists Andy lock up the local moonshiner, Sam Muggins, on Christmas Eve. In typical Andy fashion, he comes up with an idea that may turn a bad situation into something special.
First off, he insists that Muggins’ wife and two young children should join him in jail since they had knowledge of his illegal moonshine activities. Now that the entire family is being held, Andy decides to bring Christmas to them with the help of Barney, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), Ellie (Elinor Donahue), and Opie (Ron Howard). They decorate a Christmas tree and prepare a huge Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. When Ben Weaver peeps through a window, he is touched by what he sees. A lot of people are familiar with this episode from The Andy Griffith Show, but there are a lot of viewers, especially children, who most likely haven’t seen either episode. Without giving anything more away, will the Christmas spirit touch Weaver, and will he try to make amends for his actions?
Speaking of kids, Ken Ross, the executive vice president and general manager of CBS Home Entertainment who supervised the colorization of CBS shows, explained to the New York Post why adding color to the Andy Griffith Show episodes makes sense.
“A lot of parents want to get their kids into watching these types of family-oriented shows, and for a lot of kids, black-and-white can be a barrier. Kids are much more open to color episodes on television, especially when they see how great it looks.”
He added that colorizing “The Christmas Story” from The Andy Griffith Show was an obvious choice for the network.
“It hits all the right notes — family, the holidays, goodwill,” he said. “And what’s better than giving families the opportunity to watch something that’s pure, joyful and wonderful? Who doesn’t want to be in Mayberry?”
From the Andy Griffith Show archives, they also chose “The Pickle Story.” In this episode, Andy and Barney bravely pretend to love Aunt Bea’s homemade pickles. When they get the chance, they secretly switch them with a store-bought brand. At first, they are congratulating themselves over their clever switch until Aunt Bea announces she is going to enter the pickles in the county fair. Ross stated that choosing this particular episode was not an easy decision, but the original black-and-white master tape was in excellent condition, which made it easier to colorize. That wasn’t the only reason the episode was chosen, however.
“I also consulted with The Andy Griffith Show Fan Club. It’s clearly a top 10 fan favorite, and what would be cooler than showing those black-and-white pickles in green?” he said. “You get to see Barney in a red Santa suit in one episode and green pickles in the other, so we’ve got red and green: the colors of Christmas.”
Ross realizes there are some fans of The Andy Griffith Show who don’t want anything changed in regard to colorizing the classic episodes, but he points out that three seasons of The Andy Griffith Show aired in color. They used those episodes to determine what their color selections would look like.
“Some people will never like it or accept it, and what we say… is that nobody is taking away the black-and-white versions,” he said. “This is fun and is a fresh take.”
Are you a fan of The Andy Griffith Show? Do you like how classic shows are being colorized? Leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions below. The Andy Griffith Christmas Special airs on Friday, Christmas Day at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
[Image via News Observer/Twitter, cropped and resized]