Andy Griffith left one of the highest rated programs in TV history, a show so popular it continued in the Top Ten after the Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show was gone. When his hoped-for movie career fizzled Andy decided he wanted his television career back and CBS was only too happy to have him return. In the fall of 1970 Andy returned to primetime with Headmaster, a 'hip' dramedy along the lines of Room 222.
Headmaster flopped big time, even Andy and his producer acknowledged the series was awful, so they pivoted mid-season to the concept they should have gone with from the start, The New Andy Griffith Show, a pale reincarnation of the previous production with a slightly shorter name.
Actually it was more of an inversion of his old program, everything was the opposite. In the new version Andy Sawyer had a son, daughter, and a lovely refined wife played by Lee Meriwether. Like in the original series the family had a live in housekeeper - except the character played by Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie on The Dick Van Dyke Show) was the opposite of Aunt Bee, always complaining, sickly and downbeat.
Here's the theme song:
In the pilot episode Don Knotts (playing an unnamed friend), Emmett and Goober from Mayberry RFD travel to the larger town of Greenwood (where the New Andy is Mayor not Sheriff) to use Andy's influence in moving a real estate deal their way. In conversations it seems to be Andy Taylor they're talking with. It was all very confusing, especially when the Mayberry residents don't recognize Don Knott's character, Andy's best friend - was Barney in the Witness Protection Program?
The plotlines were tired sitcom tropes - for instance, in episode four Glen Campbell guest stars. You see, Andy promised that Glen would perform in the big pageant but he booked the wrong Glen Campbell so he has to convince the real... oh, you've seen that one before, huh?
The New Andy Griffith Show got a huge tune-in for the first episode, falling just outside the Top Ten, people wanted to like it... but the production rapidly became one of CBS' lowest rated half-hours. The series was cancelled after 13 episodes, replaced by reruns of Headmaster.
Read the entire story of the end of the
Andy Griffith Show and The New Andy Griffith Show.