Finishing off the first disc of the Golden Age of TV box, in which this is noticeably the odd man out, being the only comedy in the set. Indeed, comedies seem to have been rare beasts generally when it came to the live drama anthologies sampled in this collection. Unlike the first two productions in the box, this originated from a novel; like the first two, it eventually spawned a big screen version, but it also spawned a theatrical adaptation as well, and I can understand why. This is far more “theatrical” than either Marty or Patterns, right down to having a live audience in the studio, and while you’re watching it you can kind of make out just how the studio space was divided up like it might’ve been on stage. Andy Griffith is our on-screen narrator and star, US army draftee Private Will Stockdale, a well-meaning but not especially bright country boy who is a living demonstration of the old maxim about the road to hell being paved with good intentions; Dave Blakeslee draws the parallel with the later Gomer Pyle series (cf. also the Bugs Bunny cartoon Forward March Hare) as Will contends with his unfortunate sergeant and remains blithely oblivious to the havoc he’s causing the poor man. I have to say that, for the first time in this series, I got a feeling of stuff being left out to fit a timeslot (probably cos this came from a novel whereas Marty and Patterns were written for TV in the first place), and the humour is pretty broad (surprisingly physical at points too) and not particularly subtle. But I still got quite a few laughs out of it, and Griffith is terrific in the lead role. That idiot grin he whips out really is quite perfect.
No Time for Sergeants (1955)