Ever want to blow Aunt Bee’s head off with a shotgun? Me, too.
I love “The Andy Griffith Show”, or at least the black-and-white episodes they made before Barney left and the show became a living nightmare of horror. Mayberry was filled with lovable characters–Andy, Barney, Opie, Floyd the brain-damaged barber, Goober the dangerous idiot, Gomer the other dangerous idiot, Thelma Lou, Ernest T. Bass, the Darlings, and so on. All of them lovable.
All except for Aunt Bee, who was supposed to be lovable but elicited nothing but pure, seething hatred. The despicable, loathesome Aunt Bee. Oh, how I’ve fantasized about all the different ways I wanted to execute her. Or how cool it would’ve been if some guy Andy put in prison escaped and returned to Mayberry looking for revenge, and ended up blowing Aunt Bee in half with a shotgun. In slow motion. It would’ve made a great Sam Peckinpah episode.
BLAM! Aunt Bee’s mid-section explodes and she goes flying backward in slow motion through the livingroom window as the bad guy keeps on pumping and shooting. CRASH! Glass shards cascade in all directions as Aunt Bee smashes through the window, her fat feet flying upward. She could land like a sack of manure on the porch just as Gomer and Goober, who had been invited for supper that night, were coming up the steps. “GOH-HOL-LEEE!” Gomer could utter in surprise. “Somebody dun kilt Aunt Bee!” and Goober could say “Does this mean we don’t git tuh eat?”
Aunt Bee was sorta okay in the earlier episodes, before she began to assert her evil influence over the Taylor household. But one day the writers thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we suddenly made Aunt Bee a brass-plated bitch in this episode?”, which gradually got to be a habit with them after a while. “Hey, let’s have Aunt Bee interfere with Andy’s duties as a sheriff by angrily protesting some old bum’s eviction” or “Hey, let’s have Aunt Bee join the Mayberry Women’s League and start sticking her big, fat nose into everybody’s business and giving strident lectures to people about stuff she doesn’t know jack shit about”, and finally “Hey, let’s have Aunt Bee nag the ever-livin’ shit out of Andy until the last traces of his amiable, laid-back NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS-type character has been totally beaten out of him, leaving him a bitter, irritable, and humorless shell of his former self.” Which is exactly what happened, thanks to the unrelenting, soul-crushing horror that was Aunt Bee.
The nadir came in one of the color episodes, when Andy was appointed umpire of the Little League championship game that Opie was playing in. Of course, Andy ended up having to call Opie out, losing the game for the home team, and Aunt Bee went hog-wild. She waddled up to the fence, spittle flying from her festering gob, and croaked “You were supposed to HELP!” with all the bile-spewing vitriol her rancid soul could muster. So, of course, she was royally and righteously pissed off at Andy for displaying honesty and integrity, and Andy’s slow slide into utter despair once again became an ulcer-fueled rocket sled to Hell. This would’ve been a good time to introduce the revenge-crazed escaped convict with the pump shotgun, but no. Aunt Bee was like Jason Voorhees–you couldn’t kill her, no matter how much horror and agony she spread to everyone around her during her one-hag buffalo stampede through the once-idyllic town of Mayberry.
Andy finally got his ass out of town when he married Helen Crump, who by that time was just as much of a spiteful harridan as Aunt Bee so he ended up pretty much just-plain screwed forever. The show morphed into “Mayberry, R.F.D.” and Aunt Bee moved in with the unsuspecting Ken Berry and his equally-doomed son, “Mike”, who had no idea what disaster had just befallen them. In one episode, for no particular freakin’ reason whatsoever, Aunt Bee learns how to fly a plane. We’re supposed to get all happy and inspired when she makes her first solo flight, but for some unimaginable reason the writers left out the part where she flies straight into a water tower and the plane explodes. Sorry, but that’s just lazy scriptwriting.
As you can surmise, I’ve oftened imagined Aunt Bee horrendously frying in the electric chair a la Michael Jeter in THE GREEN MILE, or taking Robert Blake’s place during the big hanging scene at the end of IN COLD BLOOD. A firing squad would be cool, though a little too quick for my taste. Or how about a special edition of SAW, with Aunt Bee digitally inserted into all of the torture sequences? Surely this is possible with today’s technology. And Ron Howard’s still around to do some new scenes–I’m sure a grown-up Opie would love to resolve some of his long-suppressed hostility issues with Aunt Bee by gleefully cheering the maniac on.
Hey, how about an all-new “Mayberry” TV-movie where Aunt Bee finally gets what’s coming to her? You know, something like 2000 MANIACS, only heartwarming. It’s too late for Don Knotts and Sam Peckinpah to join in the fun, but good old Andy’s still kicking. Come to think of it, forget the revenge-crazed escaped convict. Just hand revenge-crazed Andy that pump shotgun–I’m pretty sure he’ll know what to do with it.