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In a representative moment from Gomer Pyle's fourth season, Gomer, on a weekend pass, enthusiastically anticipates a glass blowing demonstration. Not for him the local bar or burlesque club favored by his barracks mates. "Sounds like a 'don’t miss,'" he proclaims. And between a visit from Aunt Bea, a trip to Washington, D.C., a commanding guest star turn by Carol Burnett, and a return to Mayberry, so is Gomer Pyle’s fourth season. Far from lagging in its penultimate season, this series had not lost a step (it was the No. 3-rated show that year), thanks to Jim Nabors’ indelible embodiment of sweet and simple Gomer, who, to quote Sgt. Carter (Frank Sutton), has "a soft heart and a soft head." Gomer may still be "a lunkhead" at times, but he can always be counted on to do the right thing. In "Gomer and the Privileged Character," he pulls all-nighters to make up for the work he misses during the day while rehearsing for a concert. In "Gomer, the Good Samaritan," he is compelled to come to the aid of distressed strangers while en-route to pick up a general. The showcase for this season is the four-episode story arc that packs Gomer and Sgt. Carter to our nation’s capitol for a concert to be attended by the President of the United States. The stirring Capra-esque climax finds Gomer, hoarse from stage fright, taking inspiration from the Lincoln Memorial, and regaining his voice while reading aloud the Gettysburg Address. Another standout episode features a welcome appearance by Frances Bavier as Aunt Bea, who insists on helping Gomer with barracks duty (anyone who’s ever fantasized about what Bea would look like in fatigues, here’s your chance). Carol Burnett is hard-driving "Corporal Carol," whom the unwitting Gomer sweeps off her feet, causing a rift with his girlfriend, Lou-Ann Poovie (Elizabeth MacRae; she of the honey-dripping voice). Gomer endearingly wears his heart on sleeve, and in the episode, "The Better Man," he declares his love for Lou-Ann to her initially disapproving father. By the fourth season, the great Ronnie Shell is gone, but a pre-M*A*S*H William Christopher appears as a fellow private, while Roy Stuart makes a fine straight man for Sutton as Cpl. Boyle. Too bad that Andy, Opie, and Goober are out of town when Gomer visits Mayberry (nitpick: Wouldn’t someone have written him that Floyd had retired and Emmett had set up shop?), but keep your eyes open as Gomer gets on the bus out of town. With nary a topical reference (you’d never know the Vietnam War was raging) these episodes hold up well. There is no one like Gomer left in prime time, and he is dearly missed. As a grateful panhandler whom Gomer helps out in one episode observes, "I’m glad there’s a few kind people left in this world." Or at least on DVD.

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PA132724 Gomer Pyle Season 4 DVD (1967/Jim Nabors) $19.99