DVD Review: Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series

Available for the first time together in one single collection, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media have released Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series, all 150 episodes on 24 discs.

In Jim Nabors' nightclub act, he played a "bumbling service station attendant." Andy Griffith saw him perform and soon after, a similar character named Gomer Pyle was created for Andy's show, debuting in the third-season episode "The Bank Job." Nabors began getting offers to star in a sitcom, so the producers spun him off into his own series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which was also the name of the final episode of season four, which served as a backdoor pilot.

Gomer is so simple-minded he borders on stupidity at times, yet he is always so sweet-natured and earnest it likely kept the character from being considered a Southern stereotype that Hollywood was ridiculing. Nabors considered the character "Christ-like." Gomer served at the fictional Camp Henderson in California for five seasons, from 1964 to 1969. Many of the episodes find his well-intended but frequently misguided plans the cause of great consternation for gruff but lovable Sergeant Carter (Frank Sutton), who was usually at the center of them, but everything always worked out by the end.

What is very odd about the series is that while it aired, the U.S. was embroiled in Vietnam, which grew increasingly unpopular as it progressed. Yet, the viewer wouldn't know it, as it seems as if Gomer is serving during peacetime. In fact, many of the sitcom shenanigans weren't required to have a military base setting. Nowadays, it's very hard to imagine a military show ignoring the biggest military event currently occurring.

The series was a major hit during its run, a Top-Three show for four seasons on Friday nights and falling to #10 during the third season when it was moved to Wednesday. Ignoring the Vietnam War and other current events may well have been a contributing factor. Starting the second season, the show began airing in color. Ronnie Cox and William Christopher were recurring characters, fellow Marines stationed with Gomer. Notable guest stars that classic TV fans will recognize include Wayne Rogers, Jamie Farr, Michael Conrad, Ted Knight, Carol Burnett, Allan Melvin, Larry Storch, Al Lewis, and Rob Reiner. And of course there were visitors from Mayberry, such as cousin Goober (George Lindsey), Opie Taylor (Ron Howard), Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), and Aunt Bee Taylor (Frances Bavier).

The Complete Series comes with extras, but only on the five discs that contain season one. Every episode has an audio introduction by Nabors that automatically starts. Disc One has "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." from The Andy Griffith Show with optional commentary by Nabors and a sales presentation with Nabors promoting the show. Disc Two features a The Lucy Show clip (2 min) from "Lucy Gets Caught in the Draft" where Nabors makes a cameo. There's also a commentary by Ronnie Cox on "Gomer and the Dragon Lady," but it's not listed in the liner notes, so other surprises may await the buyer. Disc Three contains Jim Nabors on The David Frost Show (11 min), year unknown. Lastly, Disc Five has a comedy sketch (9 min) from The Jim Nabors Show, a CBS variety series Nabors starred in after Pyle was cancelled. Frank Sutton and Ronnie Cox also appear in it.

For fans of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series, this new collection is available at a great price so it's a perfect time to add it to your collection. For those who haven't seen it, I wouldn't recommend an episode, let alone the whole set. The characters are one-dimensional and neither they nor the situations are very interesting because once you've seen one, you've just about seen them all.

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Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer…

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