Monday, February 27, 2006

TV: Don Knotts, we salute you

A moment of silence, now, for the great comic genius Don Knotts, who died this weekend at age 81. Barney Fife, Mr. Furley, Mr. Chicken and Mr. Limpet, we salute you. Image hosting by Photobucket
Knotts took up an unseemly amount of my TV-watching time as a tot, when in retrospect there were days in my pre-teen, homework-avoiding life when I spent 3 to 7 p.m. entirely glued to the tube watching re-runs of 1970s and 1960s sitcoms.

"The Brady Bunch," "Gilligan's Island," "Happy Days" -- these were my Chaucer, my Socrates, leading to the warped child of the media I am today. And Don Knotts, he was the court jester - both in his classic role as Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" and even more iconic for me in his sleazy lounge-lizard loser persona as Mr. Furley on "Three's Company." I watched far more "Three's Company" than any man really should have (I even stuck around for the woebegone spinoff "Three's A Crowd"), and Knotts' pop-eyed buffonery was part of the guilty-pleasure fun of it all. He also made lots of silly little movies in the '60s like "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," but the one that sticks out for me is the ghost-comedy "The Ghost And Mr. Chicken." I don't know how old I was when I saw this movie -- maybe 8 or 9 -- but to me at the time, it was actually scary. Part of that was because Knotts was so convincingly startled as the fumbling Mr. Chicken. In my own personal TV Hall of Fame, Knotts is one of the great. Godspeed, Mr. Furley.
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