‘Gomer’ DVD shows you can go home again

Now that Desperate Housewives has hit us with the shocker that it’s shifting five years into the future (more on that later), I run across another example of a long-running series that does the Time Warp. It’s the Fourth Season of Gomer Pyle, USMC, new on DVD from CBS, with Jim Nabors as the Mayberry, N.C. hayseed who spends his entire tour of duty during the heat of the Vietnam War learning marching drills and tidying his barracks at a sleepy Marines base in Californy.

That’s where, to start this season, Pvt. Pyle’s Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) — who’s not really his aunt, but that of Ron Howard’s Opie — absurdly pops up all the way from Mayberry to pay Gomer a visit and remind him that cleanin’ is women’s work. She pitches in to help him mop up the quarters he shares with a bunch of other guys who have a pass to go to town that day, thus getting him into hot water with ever-bellowing Sgt. Carter (Frank Sutton).

So it’s a flashback to good ol’ Mayberry days with a flash-forward (for Aunt Bee) to Gomer’s slow evolution into a man and a Marine. Gomer Pyle would last two more seasons, counting this one, but Aunt Bee’s guest spot in 1967 came when The Andy Griffith Show, from which they all sprang, was starting its eighth and final year.

Now back to Housewives, whose ending was misinterpreted by many — including myself. I figured the flash-forward to five years was just that — a temporary “flash,” not a reconfiguring of the show. It wasn’t until I read a story in USA Today, which must have been privy to a press conference and/or press release to the effect, that I learned that, no, the whole show is shifting five years into the future.

Hey, you can’t blame me for thinking otherwise. I’ve been watching Lost on the same network for years, and it’s been doing flash-forwards, then returning to the story proper. So it was no given that Housewives wouldn’t do differently — at least until I read that article in USA Today, which, by the way, never mentioned the idea that this could have been a temporary flash-forward, a la Lost, as if it was self-evident all along that a major, unprecedented restructing of Housewives was being done with Sunday’s season finale ending.

Whatev. Bottom line, when Housewives jumps ahead for good, at least it will make the lead actresses closer to their characters’ actual ages. Like Sex and the City, this show was cast too old at the start (with exceptions such as Eva Longoria in Housewives and Kristin Davis on City). Now the characters are catching up with the actresses in age. And on the disc spinning in my player, Aunt Bee remains an eternal “motherly type,” as she’s called on Gomer, despite the fact that she’s really more “grandmotherly.” To be on TV is to be eternal.


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