original airdate: January 17, 1966
Barney Fife is taking time off from his busy schedule manning the N through R section of the finger print files at the police department in Raleigh to attend a high school reunion in Mayberry [this event took place in the previous episode The Return of Barney Fife]. The subject of his replacement comes up at the Taylors' kitchen table. Of course, Barney thinks he is irreplaceable but is visibly disappointed to learn from Aunt Bee that Warren is doing a superb job. He is highly trained, graduating fourth in his class at the Sheriff's Academy, and has been so proficient that Andy was able to take a two-week vacation [presumably a different time than the Hollywood trip]; as Aunt Bee points out, Andy was never able to take such an extended period of time off before.
Upon hearing this news, a crestfallen Barney announces that he needs to head back to the capital. He calls Goober, who is waiting for a new fuel pump to arrive for Barney's car, and tells him to replace his old fuel pump so he can head out right away. Barney does not want to meet "Mr. Wonderful," but Andy insists, so Barney reluctantly goes with Andy to the courthouse. Andy tries to tell Barney something about Warren but Barney does not want to discuss "Capt. Marvel." When they meet, however, Warren gushes all over Barney, calling him a "living legend," complimenting the "beautiful," textbook-worthy reports he left behind, and even reciting what he takes in his coffee. Never shy from being the center of attention, Barney changes his mind about leaving Mayberry right away, calls Goober to remove the old fuel pump again, and spends some of the day with Warren bragging about his many exploits.
Back at the courthouse, Warren has an idea for the
newspaper editor to do a story on Barney with the
headline: "Living Legend Returns." Andy
thinks it would "make a fine picture" if Barney were to wear his old
uniform. Barney announces that, for
some reason, he packed it. Warren drives him to
Andy's house and Barney returns in his uniform. While the
others wait outside with the photographer, Barney stays alone
in the courthouse so he can gussy himself up in the mirror.|
While he admires his reflection, the phone rings and Barney answers. On the other end is the warden from the county workfarm to inform the sheriff's department that a prisoner has escaped and might be headed their way. It turns out that the escapee is a criminal named Avery Noonan [did the writers get the idea for the first name from Jack Burns's comedy partner?] who Barney managed to catch and who has vowed revenge on the former deputy who put him away.
Suddenly, staying in Mayberry no longer appeals to Barney. Questioned by Andy, Barney tells him he doesn't want to appear pushy by being a feature in the newspaper and would like to return to Raleigh right away. He calls Goober to let him know he's changed his mind about the fuel pump yet again and leaves the courthouse in a raincoat with his hat down over his eyes.
Waiting for his car to arrive, Barney barricades himself
in Andy's guestroom. Goober drives up in Barney's
gas guzzler (a 1960 Edsel convertible with a '61 grille) and
Barney is all set to leave. Puzzled as to why Barney is in
such a rush, Andy receives a phone call. It is the warden
with an update on the escaped convict. When Andy reveals
he has not yet heard the news, the warden tells him
he had already warned Barney. Warren then arrives with
an extra holster and news that Noonan has been spotted snooping
around the depot. He is certain
the "living legend" will want to "get back in the harness."
Barney, however, insists on leaving only to have the
fuel pump of his car fall off before he can even back out of the
driveway. An excited Warren straps the gun holster on
Barney and insists he come along to the convict's reported
Once outside the depot, Andy suggests Barney stay
by the squad car and Barney readily agrees. Warren is
puzzled as to why "the legend" does not want in on the
action. He begins to question the subject of his
hero worship. Could the town have been wrong about
the brave Barney Fife? Meanwhile, Andy spots Noonan,
armed only with a club, behind some boxes.
As Andy is about to move in, Barney nervously
makes his way inside the depot. Noonan jumps
at Barney who in turn drops his gun in fright. Just when it looks
like the "living legend" will no longer be the former, Andy
throws a heavy sack onto the convict's head.
Temporarily unconscious, Noonan is now easy pickings
for Barney. Hearing the commotion, Warren rushes in
and sees that Barney has his man. Andy remarks that
Barney used the "injun trick" to coax Noonan out
of his hiding place. Barney then brags to Warren about
how he knocked out the convict.|
Warren begins to
question his idol.
succeed in law enforcement
without really trying.
Later, when bidding Andy
farewell, a humbler Barney asks Andy, when speaking to
the press, to swing
the credit for the capture to Warren. Mayberry is
Warren's town now, Barney explains [well, it won't be for
long, as it turned out] and a nice guy like him could
use a "pat on the back." As he is leaving, Barney runs into Warren
who has just entered the courthouse. Warren acknowledges him
with a friendly nod and Barney drops his head and walks out.
With his faith in his
hero restored, Warren gushes, "A true living legend that Barney
Fife. I mean, he's something,
isn't he Andy?" Andy agrees, "Yes he is, he really is."|
isn't he Andy?"
Note: Warren said just 3 individual "huhs" but he out-"huh'd" Barney 3-1! Na NaNa Na Na!
The Myth of "The Legend"
Warren from somewhere (probably from his uncle Floyd) got the idea that Barney Fife was a legendary officer of the law during his tenure. This "myth" was created by Andy. Many times Andy got Barney out of a jam (sometimes of a very serious nature) by working behind-the-scenes to help his skittish deputy succeed. Andy allowed Barney to believe he achieved the glory all by himself, thus artificially inflating his already healthy ego. In this specific case, there was no harm done. Barney was no longer defending the public directly, although he should have, at least, informed Andy of the warden's phone call that an escaped con may be visiting his fair city--a sheriff might want to know such things. Mayberry's former deputy, at this point, was working in an office organizing finger prints. Barney also realized he was lucky he was not killed by Noonan and thus did not mind giving Warren credit for the capture (a breathless Barney seemed more rattled than confident during his immediate post-capture scene with Warren). Barney was accustomed to receiving credit for what Andy did for him; so, he must have assumed Warren would appreciate receiving credit for something he did not do.
When Barney was deputy, however, Andy's actions to cover up his deputy's incompetence could have had dangerous consequences. If Barney was not up to the task of protecting the residents of Mayberry, he should have been replaced. No matter how infrequent crime occurred in the small North Carolina town, people's lives were still in the hands of the men in charge of law enforcement. Sure, Andy was helping his friend but, what if he was unable to help him one of those few times when a violent criminal was on the loose (it only takes one)? When lives are in the balance, friendships must be cast aside. Warren, although also of an excitable nature, was much more in control and obviously Andy realized this as he was able to take two weeks off that he never dared take when Barney was his deputy. Let's face it, Warren never had to keep a bullet in his pocket.
"It's His Town"????
Why can't Mayberry be both their towns?
huh? huh? huh?
Sure ya do!
Back to the Courthouse|