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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Green Acres - The Complete First Season (MGM DVD Set)

Green Acres – Season One


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: B



Filmways Productions was one of those little companies that could.  When they created The Beverly Hillbillies, little did they (and especially a then-unhappy CBS) realize they had a hit on their hands.  As you likely know, it is the story of how the poor Clampett family literally finds oil on their property and move to a rich neighborhood.  Filmways’ creative people simply decided to do the show in reverse, having socialites Oliver and Lisa Douglas move to an old, beat up farm in the middle of the backwoods.  Thus, Green Acres was born and it was also a hit.


Originally built around Eddie Albert simply sending up his well-established dramatic image, Eva Gabor was just too much of a match for the show to keep that name, so the program was renamed.  It is her character Lisa who wants to stay in New York, but her stuff husband just had to go crazy and buy that dilapidated farm.  Feminists have criticized the show as sexist, the woman who goes where her man wants automatically, but I always thought the series was even sending that up.  Since I Love Lucy’s real on-going joke has to do with Lucy and Ethel trying to escape the kitchen and domestic life, Green Acres has the used-to-luxury Lisa staying a city girl, no matter where she goes.  Look at the glamorous outfits she is wearing on the farm.  Is that right?


Of course, her cooking is a wreck, since she never had to learn how to cook.  Feminists could again say she is following her husband and then is too incompetent to even make pancakes.  If anything, it expresses how mismatched this couple is, but how they epitomize the adage that opposites attract.  Though it is a one-joke show with writing not up to I Love Lucy’s, the thing that does make this show work is how they will take a whole show to set up a gag and make it work.  Most sitcoms today think the audience are idiots, but Green Acres was enough of a class act to respect the audience’s intelligence and attention span, no matter how exceptionally silly it got.  The nadir of this kind of sitcom wound up being My Mother, The Car, and yes, it was that bad.


Besides characters from Petticoat Junction, the supporting character actor character was the distinctive Pat Buttram as Hooterville (yes, that is the name of the town where the Douglas farm exists) conman extraordinaire Eustace Charleston Haney and his truck.  When Ray Stevens had his novelty hit The Streak, Buttram’s voice was definitely being referenced.   Green Acres novelty was Arnold the Pig. With that said, the half-hour time-slot designed shows are as follows, with some titles being rather self-explanatory:


1)     Oliver Buys A Farm

2)     Lisa’s First Day On The Farm

3)     The Decorator

4)     The Best Laid Plans

5)     My Husband, the Rooster Renter

6)     Furniture, Furniture, Who’s Got The Furniture?

7)     Neighborliness

8)     Lisa the Helpmate

9)     You Can’t Plus in a 2 with a 6

10)  Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

11)  Parity Begins At Home

12)  Lisa Has a Calf

13)  The Wedding Anniversary

14)  What Happened in Scranton?

15)  How to Enlarge a Bedroom

16)  Give Me Land, Lots Of Land

17)  I Didn’t Raise My Husband to Be a Fireman

18)  Lisa Bakes a Cake

19)  Sprained Ankle, Country Style

20)  The Price of Apples

21)  What’s in a Name

22)  The Day of Decision

23)  A Pig in a Poke

24)  The Ballad of Molly Turgiss

25)  The Deputy

26)  Double Drick

27)  Send a Boy to College

28)  Never Look a Gift Tractor in the Mouth

29)  Horse? What Horse?

30)  Culture

31)  The Rains Came

32)  Uncle Ollie


Even when you read the often funny summaries provided in the boxed set’s booklet or on the DVD menus, you still have to watch some of these to believe they exist, especially if you have never seen this type of comedy before.  Some jokes get better.  In the difference between having modern conveniences and not, something this show gets insane mileage out of, the local phone company cannot patch a telephone into the Douglas house.  Instead, anyone who wants to make a phone call has to climb the outside telephone poll.  Now that we have cell phones, it is a whole new joke.


The first two episodes have pre-credits sequences and a different director than later shows.  It seems like they may be trying too hard to sell themselves and sell their concept, but this was the only way and best way to launch a show like this, and it worked.  When the show got into its element, it moves well.  Not all shows are equally funny, but they really dared to be stupid in a non-degrading way and that’s not a bad thing.  It may be a bit dysfunctional, but not extensively so.


Even under the most conservative circumstances, the typical quiet family comedy sitcom had played itself out.  As color came in, something had to change, even if it was not too radical.  Beverly Hillbillies began as a black and white show, but Green Acres began in color, and it looks even better now than when it was first broadcast, because the DVDs here capture the very nice color schemes that were being used to best advantage.  TV was an industry interested in selling that new invention of color televisions.  Green Acres was one of the first successes.


The full frame image varies from episode to episode, with the credits more often than not looking dirtier than they should.  How did only some of these credit sequences get so many artifacts on them?  When the credits are clean, they really look good.  I would have found the best credits roll, then repeated it on every show.  With that said, Bob Gough became the cinematographer for all but one of the shows.   Because these Filmways Cornpone Comedies (watch MGM use that name for some boxed set) had a heightened visual comedy about them, they had to have eccentric visuals to go with them.  Early on, the producers realized all they had to do was take a cue form old Folk Musicals, inanimate objects coming to life and dancing to music, and dump the music.  You can tell you are watching one of these shows from their somewhat fake-looking designs, yet they have this more advanced color reproduction.  It is an interesting mix and these prints are unusually consistent in showing them off, with only minor softness.


As for music, composer Vic Mizzy’s incidental music was as goofy as expected, even serving as sound editor on the show (proving my Folk musical point), but the theme song to the show is a TV legend.  It is still being referenced and even used in advertising to this day.  Albert and Gabor really did sing the song, which is actually brilliant in that it sets up the entire high concept in the most hilarious way possible.  It also instantly establishes the great chemistry between its stars.  All the shows are monophonic and their sound varies, but the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sounds decent at its best on these shows.  Sadly, there are no extras, not even chapter stops!


No, David Lynch is not a producer of the show, though Hooterville can be as weird as Twin Peaks.  It is hard to have supplements on TV shows, but what about promo films, interviews with the stars, or a documentary?  Hope we see one on a later volume.


Beverly Hillbillies has something in common with All In The Family, Happy Days and The Mary Tyler Moore Show:  mega-hit TV series with the most spin-offs.  Without counting, each of these shows had several spin-offs, most of which were also hits.  But it was early shows like Petticoat Junction and Green Acres that proved that the spin-off was even viable.  It was not the first show to try it, and certainly not the first time more than one series was interconnected through their narrative.  If you need a good laugh, it is really worth going back literally to Green Acres, because it is often still funny if you can get the humor.  It is also hard to beat Gabor and Albert together, without whom this show would have never went on for six seasons.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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