Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Barney Fife a critical study
Barney Fife is a artifice, pure and simple, by all right he should be as normal as Andy, and yet he can't seem to get it together. Even though he lives in a swell town, has a swell Job, a swell best friend and even a swell girlfriend, he is still off center unable to fit into society.
He always seems to find himself rejected by whatever group he wishes to fit into, they see through his Masquerade and judge him instantly as either incompetent or a misfit .
But its all artificially created, a scam, Barney is made the way he is for only one reason : to make Andy look good by comparison, which is why Andy needs Barney, he needs to have an incompetent around just to make himself feel competent. Its common practice in Sitcoms. Ralph Kramden for all his bluster desperately needs Ed Norton in a attempt to at least feel superior to one person.
So , Andy standing next to the shorter Fife, looks twice as large, Twice as handsome, it's a good strategy all the way through, and with a deputy like Fife his Job security was assured, where as a more competent ,better educated deputy might create friction and a sense of anxiety in The Sheriff's office. No. Andy likes things just the way they are and as he is the one man that needs Barney he is also the one man who appreciates him, which is why he always coming to his physical and emotional rescue.
And yet when the writers aren't turning Barney into a complete incompetent , there are times when Barney shows a keener Gut instinct about Police work then Andy.
Andy is so sure of his ability that he appears lazy in a way , while Barney is always brushing up on the latest Police procedures, and many Times Barney is correct in his assumptions its just in the execution that he Fails.
Unfairly, in order to Make Andy look even better they felt they had to give Barney a cowardly streak, the episodes when he shows it are the weakest in the series, and should be mostly forgotten.
The series shines when Barney is allowed to be human, albeit a fidgety high strung human, such as in the Pickle story, or the loaded Goat episode, however the mistreatment of the character is shameless, its just lazy writing going for quick jokes off Barneys back rather then writing stronger more sophisticated jokes.
A measurement of adaption is missing from Barney, especially in cases where he is in over his head, like when he and Andy want to join a country club full of snobs. They like Andy but see in Barney everything they don't want in their club and reject him. It's a heck of a snap judgement, considering that Barney for the most part is a descent guy with a good heart, but to upperclass he can't come off as anything but common , Barney tries so hard to fit in, in a crushing need to be accepted, where as Andy is the opposite, secure in his own person, he fits in neatly in any social group precisely because he doesn't care if they accept him or not.
The odd thing about Barney is disaffected as he is , Mr outside at the same time he is a authority figure, a law man, the Badge is his Talisman and Andy is his personal Jesus, his hero, his friend, protector, companion, without Andy Barney would be lost, shieldless against all the evil and cruelties of an insane world, without Andy Barney is two steps away from being Travis Bickle.
Barney has a raw , big nosed wide mouthed face with big Cocker Spaniel eyes , resting on a Pencil neck and a caved in body that comes off as unhealthy , as though he just came out of some Hospital and needs about six months worth of recuperation
He's wiry and fidgety always one step from freaking out, he's at times competent and at other times clumsy to the point of being dangerous to others. While Andy is a man in total control of himself especially his violent side, Barney has no control, contrary he's out of control, and fast to act , ready to run out the door without putting his pants on. So ready to pull his Pistol he inevitably pulls the trigger while still in the holster a symbolic sexual innuendo that makes me feel sorry for long suffering Thelma Lou
tomorrow part 2