Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh No...Vic!

Pardon my slow posting. (I've been in the middle of something else.)


Vic Mizzy died...He was 93.

I'd like to think he's sitting on the pitchfork (not on the tines) that Oliver throws offscreen during the credits. And, Oliver has thrown him straight to Heaven.

You shall be missed, sir! Tonight...some GA!

Monday, September 21, 2009

1.16: Give Me Land, Lots of Land

"You have a love of the land that I don't quite understand..."

Oliver buys the Watson farm. The Douglases now own 300 acres...but not the nice house on the Watson property. And, that sentence should clue you in to a portion of the plot in this episode. But, luckily, not a large portion of the plot. Lisa moves their stuff into this house that isn't theirs. But, at this point in the show, it's quite nice to see them working through the sitcom tropes. There's a lot of verve and there are actual laughs.


Lisa's Haggling with Mr. Haney.

Mr. Kimball being forced to give a straightforward answer.

Oliver and Lisa enjoying their new bedroom with no walls on the sides.

Mr. Watson's hard sell of the farm to Oliver.

All this one is missing is some Ziffel action and a visit from the Monroe Brothers.

Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor seem to be really enjoying this episode. Lisa makes a joke or two, which seems a bit odd but it's not outside the realm of possibility. And, Oliver is clearly excited when he has the chance of almost doubling the size of his farm. Especially, when he realizes that stuff actually grows on this land.

Lisa is not thrilled but she loves the house, which Oliver doesn't even notice.

There is a very strange moment near the end when Oliver arrives home and the house is empty... Instantly, I flashed right back to the second episode and the desolate filthiness of the place. The doorknob even goes through the wall again. For a brief moment, I think Oliver believed that Lisa has gone away. It gets cleared up and the Watson furniture, briefly, ends up in their house (which also looks weird) but, for that moment, the house that they have made a home becomes a shack again. It's slightly disconcerting.

Another fine episode and a mini-milestone.

We are now halfway through with Season One of Green Acres.

January 5, 1966 was the original airdate.

Next time, we enter the second half of the season and The Day of Decision looms ever closer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

1.15.: How To Enlarge a Bedroom

(It is now September 12th. I wrote this over a week ago and, frankly, I'm not so thrilled with it. But, it is a spray of my thoughts on this very good episode. So, I'm posting it. Enjoy.)

"I called you three weeks ago for an estimate."
"Ralph was on vacation."
"Oh...When does that end?"
"Last Wednesday."

And...the Monroe brothers have arrived. Alf & Ralph!

Except one of them is a sister...Ralph.

They're not as wacky as they will be in a few episodes but their patented "Monroe brand" of laughs is here.

Lisa offers Oliver an "either-or". Enlarge the bedroom or the six months are up! So, Oliver gets Alf and Ralph over there immediately. At the same time, Eb is trying to borrow Mr. Douglas's car for a date with Ophelia, his gal. Oliver will not budge.

It's so great to be back on track with the "six months moving into the farm" stories again. There's no Mr. Kimball in this episode. But, aside from the Monroe's, Fred & Doris Ziffel get a great scene together. They get in some nice back & forth bickering, which is always great. (Arnold acts a little oddly but he's, generally, still a regular pig.)

This episode does begin immediately with the "enlarge the bedroom" plotline but it works here because there is a lot to get done. Alf & Ralph arrive. They expand out the bedroom. That actually means that they pushed out the wall with the window as far as Lisa wants it. That means that there are no walls along the side and anyone can just stroll in. And, it means that the telephone pole is now in the middle of the room. Oh, Monroe Brothers!

The episode follows Oliver from spot to spot. Lisa still hasn't completely adapted but, in this episode, she has become one of the characters that Oliver keeps meeting up with during his journey. And, now, there are so many of them. The Ziffel scene has a great moment when Oliver goes to check a reference for the Monroe Brothers work. Oliver's face when he learns what they did for Fred and Doris is great. Basically, the Brothers re-hung their front door so it swings a different way. And, they fixed the front porch. Of course, they broke it...

Eddie Albert carries the episode with a mix of bemusement and frustration and confusion. The Monroe's inability to give a proper estimate and the building inspector's bribery of sorts (Ophelia is his daughter. Room won't pass if Oliver doesn't give out the car.) drive him to some raging. But, then, watch his reaction when Mrs. Ziffel tells him that he looks pretty. It's very charming. The man perfectly fits into this society that he doesn't fit into that well at all.

Eva Gabor is as charming as ever. Really though, the episode is about Oliver trying to get the bedroom work started and get Eb to leave him alone. So, she doesn't do much here. In the last episode, she was the focus.

So, as we go through, approaching the second half of Season One, the bits are in place. Things are coming together and the bedroom will expand and Alf & Ralph will grow. (Apparently, Alf is married? Maybe he was kidding.) Being on the ground floor of a show is always great, if it's a good show. Let's see what happens next.

Friday, August 28, 2009

1.14.: What Happened in Scranton

How to apply fertilizer
"There are three methods for applying...No, there are two. No, there are three."
"Well, what are they?"
"Well, one is a a rather primitive method of applying. It was used back in the early settlers days back in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and certain sections of the Delaware Water Gap. They called it shoveling."
"Yes. They'd get a shovel with a big bag of fertilizer and just sort of shovel it around."
He never makes it to the other ones.

Ahh, things have picked up again. The first ten minutes are spent watching Oliver milk a cow, Alice laying eggs and Mr. Kimball ramble about fertilizer and The Chief. ("Like he said to me, 'Mildred', he said...") It's only when they hit Drucker's store that the main plot hits: there is no beauty parlor in Hooterville! And, the Ladies Every-Other-Wednesday-Afternoon Discussion Club convenes to set up the beauty parlor on the Cannonball!

Meanwhile, Oliver just wants to fertilize his wheat.

Lisa calls Mother ("Lisa darling, you're in new York! You escaped!") and Claude (also known to Mr. Haney as Clyde) is sent from the City to help the ladies. Why? Because of something that happened in Scranton... So, the ladies are done up beautiful with huge bouffants and spit curls and their men are very confused. They won't work with their hair done up! Oh comedy!

It's nice to get back to the way the shows were before the past couple episodes. When something is this early on, the slightest pattern can throw everything out of whack. Remember when the Munsters went from being slightly dark and macabre to just another sitcom about 10-13 episodes in? Well, luckily, GA doesn't drop down that road. The laughs are back. The goofiness is all around. The limited supporting cast is starting to run us in circles a bit. We are very slowly expanding out, however. With the next episode, luckily, things will open up rather nicely.

It's nice to have Mr. Kimball back. He's got a nice long scene where he rambles all over the place and accomplishes nothing. Arnold shows up briefly. Mrs. Ziffel gets her hair done up. Mr. Ziffel is confused by his wife's hair. Sam has a nice moment. Eb shows up in the opening. Everyone is here, almost, but they're not quite interconnecting properly yet. Soon...

A strange episode. It's got back on track but it sort of fades as it goes. Claude arrives and the hair gets done and the comedy sort of fades, apart from the great hairdos. Luckily, this is only a brief bump. And, we may be getting a break from Mother soon. That's something to be happy about.

Just some random bits:

Lisa's speech at the end takes an amorous twist , which can only double the population of the Valley.

"Mr. Ziffel, when was the last time you told your wife she was beautiful?"

I do love Lisa using "Scranton" on Oliver at the end to get him to do go out for dinner. It doesn't work, of course, but it's as cute as a kitten. And, Lisa's hair looks nice. And, the episode ends with them kissing and a cut to the exterior of the house...where the lights go out. Ummm...racy anyone?

This episode works better watched randomly than where it is in the run. But, it's still a good one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1.13.: The Wedding Anniversary

Where's the quote? I was so busy thinking as I watched that I didn't write one down.

(How's that?)

Not one of my favorite episodes. Possibly my least favorite of Season One.

It's Lisa & Oliver's wedding anniversary. Oliver can't remember how many years they've been married. There's a long flashback to last year's anniversary when Oliver's "Balcony Crops" got the two of them thrown in prison. This year -- they end up back in prison.

I used to have a tough time pinning down why this episode did little for me. But, now I've mostly got it. Part of it is the previous episode: Lisa Has a Calf isn't a favorite of mine, although it does have its charms. This one seems to be missing some of those charms and seems to be actively going in a different direction than the previous episodes. It's more sitcom-like than anything we've seen so far.

I don't mind the premise but the structure threw me off. The flashback is about half (or more) of the episode. Things start with Oliver forgetting the number of years. Then, we have the flashback. Then, we return to Today where Oliver arranges dinner at the Shady Rest, tussles with Mr. Haney and gets them both arrested. Normally, I love the flashback scenes in Green Acres. From Season Two on, the flashbacks and fantasy sequences will be sheer joy. Here, however, it feels strange. They are all set to go out when Oliver's corn gets sick. He won't go. Dr. Faber shows up. Mother (Oh boy!) shows up. They get arrested. It all feels like a repeat of scenes we saw in the first episode. And, the jokes are very low-key and not that funny. It almost feels like, even though Jay & Dick are named, Dick is on vacation. Most of the sharp jokes that normally litter the scripts are missing here. And, this flashback should be great but turns out to be just overlong and drab.

And, the main plot doesn't have enough to sustain it. The bit with Mr. Haney feels like filler. Sort of like, maybe, the flashback didn't go on long enough and they needed to fill space. There's really no reason for it at all. I wonder if the flashback was supposed to be almost all of the episode and something happened. The second half of the episode, set in Today, kind of drags. And, it doesn't help that the first half, the Flashback, kind of does too.

Another problem is that there is no faffing about at the start. We begin immediately with the plotline and then, by the end, have run out of plot. Usually, the episodes goof about in the beginning and gradually the plot overtakes everything. Here, like the last episode oddly enough, it's there from the start and it runs short. I can't help thinking that, as Phil Leslie left after the writing of the last episode, he yelled "Do an anniversary one where Oliver can't remember how long they've been married? We did that on Fibber McGee and Molly and it killed!" The reason why I say that is because I can see Fibber forgetting but not Oliver. Jay and Dick have done that thing where they altered a character slightly, just for this episode, simply for the expediency of the plotline. And, I'm not so thrilled. (They did that in the fourth season of The Bob Newhart Show a lot. Another example is the The X-Files episode "First Person Shooter". They look like Mulder & Scully but that ain't them, Jack. Rotten episode.)

No Mr. Kimball here, by the way.

In the end, the episode is watchable. Other folks probably like it a lot more than I do. It just feels about as un-Green Acres-like as you can get. Here...

Have you ever loved a TV show or a band or a book or something...? Say a TV show, for simplicity's sake. And, you really want someone else to love it like you do? And so, there's a new episode on or something and you say, "Watch this! You'll love it. Trust me." And, they watch it. And, for some reason, very little of what you love is in the episode. Maybe they're experimenting, maybe it's an off day. Who knows? But, you sit and watch and think "C'mon, do that thing you always do...C'mon, where are the big jokes?...C'mon, where are the weird sketches?" And then, at the end, you have to explain what you love about the show to a disbelieving friend because none of it is apparent from what was just shown?

The Wedding Anniversary would be the comparable episode of Green Acres. Watch the episode and enjoy time spent with the characters. But, know that it shall return to form very soon.

Oh, by the way, it's been 10 years. Oliver & Lisa married around 1955...if the show is set contemporaneously.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

1.12.: Lisa Has A Calf

"That's one of my best hats! It cost 125 dollars!"
"125 dollars! It doesn't even hold water!"

Teleplay: Phil Leslie, Jay Sommers & Dick Chevillat
Story By: Phil Leslie

And, here's a surprise, this one feels sligthly off, just like the last one that wasn't 100% Jay & Dick. It's not in bad hands, though. Phil Leslie was one of the chief writers on Fibber McGee and Molly so he knew funny. But, possibly, as the main idea of the episode shows, he was just familiar with the sitcom tropes of the 40's and 50's.

During a crazy rainstorm, Eb enteres the extremely leaky living room of the Douglases and announces that Elinor is pregnant. Immediately, Lisa takes over. She covers the soaked cow with a comforter and holds an umbrella over here. When Oliver tells her she doesn't have to do this, Lisa says that he'd understand if he was a mother. And...all I can think is "Lisa, you're not a mother. Nor have you ever shown a signal maternal sign towards anyone. And, if the main Mother in your life is Oliver's Mom, you've got the wrong idea of Motherhood." It's a bit of a strange conceit for an episode. And, to be honest, I can't imagine Jay & Dick cooking it up.

Of course, the main thrust of the episode is the townsfolk and, eventually, Oliver's Mother thinking Lisa is pregnant. All this stuff doesn't amount to much. It's all the fill-in stuff that adds a bit of zazz. Mr. Haney trying to sell a portrait of Beethoven as a Young Girl is great. And, of course, they have to keep Haney from finding out about Elinor because he'll sue for the calf and win.

I think the episode starts to lose me when Mother shows up. It's been a while and, frankly, it was good to see her gone. She has one funny moment. When Uncle Joe says that Lisa is expecting a "B-A-B-I-E". "What is a babie?" But, then all she can think about is a child growing up on the farm and she makes loud Margaret Dumont noises and I sigh.

It's a good episode but, like Lisa the Helpmate, it doesn't quite feel right. We've got three different Green Acres going here. 1) The calm, charming show that began in the opening episodes and is fading away. 2) The fast paced, funny, oddball show that I love to pieces. 3) A standard sitcom with a bit of a strange thread running through it. This episode is definitely in the Number 3 vein. "Everyone thinks the leading lady is pregnant but it's actually an animal that's having the baby" seems like a plotline older than sitcoms and probably is. One of the great things about the show as it goes is that it will take standard sitcom plots and twist them. This one only has a bit of twisting and all that is on the periphery. For example...

Mr. Kimball is officially here. He keeps backtracking and forgetting things throughout his scene. And, the writers must know they've got a good character, because Lisa, while talking about Hank, acts exactly like Hank with backtracking and all.

And, the big one...

Eb mentions the Beverly Hillbillies in his first (small) run of the episode and it seems like the Eb we know and love. Then, Eb reads a letter from Lisa and they dub in Eva Gabor's voice as Tom Lester speaks. Then, Eb bails out the barn in snorkel and flippers and says that there is a man fishing for barracuda in there. Hooray! Eb is almost here! In fact, I can't help thinking that Jay & Dick added these little bits, grafting them on to Phil Leslie's script.

It's a good episode. Definitely worth a viewing. But, it seems slightly misplaced. We should be focusing on the farm and the house. This episode should have been later on but it wouldn't really have fit there. If you can get past Mother's blustering, it's fun. It just feels kind of wrong.

And, yes, Mother does faint when she learns that Lisa is not pregnant. Even Oliver seems tired of it. He lets out a "For Crying Out Loud!" That's how I felt.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1.11.: Parity Begins At Home

"I am stupid."
"I am smart?"
"No, you're not smart either..."

The show is now right there...right where I always thought it was. In that hilarious zone that too few American sitcoms reach. This episode is firing on all cylinders but, and this is why it's in that zone, it's not one of the absolute best. It's just funny, well-paced and fun. It has Lisa being dumb, charming and sexy; it has Oliver being funny, flustered and heroic in his own special way. Everyone else, except Eb, has a nice moment. The guest cast (including Jesse White in a very funny turn) add a little extra but do not in any way overshadow the regulars. Jay & Dick have written a strong script that has a main plot and tons of other business around it. And, Richard L. Bare, our consummate director always puts the camera in the perfect spot for the laugh. (Not as easy as you'd think.)

Act 1 has Oliver and Lisa spending most of their time goofing around the farm. Oliver is ready to plant his 160 acres with wheat. Lisa messes up her first load of wash. We learn the way the shower works. (Lisa describes it best in the episode but I didn't write it down. Suffice it to say, the shower is outside. Depending upon who is showering, they yell "Lisa" or "Oliver" and the water turns on and off.) Meanwhile, the Crabwell Corners Stabilization and Conservation Committee, which consists of two gentleman, are handing out allotments to all the farmers. There is an over-complicated system that tells farmers how much of a certain crop they can plant. They learn about Oliver buying the Haney place and decide to visit him.

Act 2 has the Committee arrive at the Douglas farm and see Lisa in the shower. One of the few (if only) times in the show that Eva Gabor does not have a wig on to accentuate her hair. And, frankly, she looks great in the shower. When she steps out with her towel, we get a moment, which, I would imagine, was rather racy for the time, of her in a fur bikini-type thing and the towel. Lisa's not a modest lady. And, it's a surprising moment. But, it's shrugged off as "nothing out of the ordinary" when Oliver steps out and says hello to the guys and not "What are you guys doing watching my wife take a shower?" The City Folks are a little more cosmopolitan. Anyway... The Committee (through much good comedy) tells Oliver that he can only plant a small amount of his land with wheat due to the law. Oliver goes nuts and calls a town meeting. He will send a petition to Washington to protest this law!

Act 3 wraps it up nicely. I won't give the final bit away but... Mr. Kimball shows up with the Hooterville World Guardian that has Oliver on the front page. ("New Resident Starts Trouble") Oliver will not back down even when Mr. Kimball reads him the law in, probably, the funniest moment of the episode. The framing of the shot as Oliver listens to the law while Hank reads is brilliant. Oliver is listening intently and, with each word, he starts to lose the point of it. His response and his delivery (in the next shot), when Hank finishes, is hilarious. It makes me laugh every time. But, in the end, everything's all right and Oliver can plant all he wants and Lisa messes up the wash again.

Watching this episode is like listening to Rubber Soul (by the Beatles, just in case). They have so much wonderful music and Rubber Soul is not their best but it's a group hitting it again and again. If it's not their best, it's only because, at other times, they've done just a little bit better. They're so good that when they just do their job they kick ass, naturally. That's what this episode is...a show that is already in such a good place that an average episode like this one has everything you could want. Now, is this hyperbole? Am I going overboard? Possibly. But, I'll tell you why I do this...

Back in 1986, this was the first episode of Green Acres that I decided to record.

Well, story time...And stop me if you've heard this but...

I begin 6th grade in the Fall of 1985. New home, new school. Bit of a teething problem at the start. I went to a Catholic School so we were one big class that sat together all day. We had 5 boys and about 14 girls. As you can imagine, a room full of 12-13 year olds can get fairly unruly in more ways that one. We were no different. (Most of that, however, is for another blog or a John Hughes-style film.) But, as the new kid, I got picked on. And, much to my shame, I did something I shouldn't have: There was one other new person. Her name was Debbie and she was overweight. In order to stop myself getting picked on, I picked on her, which deflected everyone away from me. It was rotten and I did apologize later. But, it was too late. Catholic Guilt has set it in and, whenever I dwell on it, I think "Dammit! What an asshead I was." Sorry, Debbie. You probably had to put up with too much of that in your life. I should have been a better person.

So, Green Acres...isn't it great? How about that Hank Kimball?

I would get home from school a little after 3. I'd do my homework (always a breeze) and, for those first few weeks kind of flail around. With no one to play with, I was left to my own devices. Sometimes in the past I'd watch TV (You Can't Do That On Television, mainly) but now I began to totally immerse myself in it (I had a subscription to TV Guide for a year) with the assistance of our VCRs, mainly one of our Betamax players. I began taping lots of TV shows and watching them whenever. I rarely watched something when it aired (and this was late 1985). But, there was one run of shows that I watched religiously...on the CBN Network, starting at 4PM every weekday.

4:00 - Hazel and a bowl of ice cream
4:30 - Father Knows Best
5:00 - Green Acres

Three sitcoms that seem to come from different eras. Father Knows Best was a radio show transplanted to TV. It's sometimes wacky, sometimes fuzzy. Hazel has the calmest laugh track ever on it. I thought I was watching a drama the first time I tuned in. Then, I heard these calm distant laughs and thought "Oh! A sitcom." Green Acres is...well, you know.

But, I enjoyed all three. I fear Hazel may no longer interest me unless I have a bowl of ice cream every time I watch. Father Knows Best I prefer on radio now. Why? I don't know. I just do. Maybe I like to create the town and home in my mind. Maybe in my "Father Knows Best Reviews" column, which may never happen, I'll go into that. Green Acres, however, kicked me right in the slats.

I started watching the show near the end of its run, mid-to-late Season Six. And, I adored it. It was funny and weird and, get this, I laughed at things happening on it! Didn't happen much on sitcoms. Then, one day, the show looped back to the beginning and I got to see everything build up around Oliver and Lisa. And, with Parity Begins At Home, I began taping it. Day after day, week after week, month after month. Summer of '86 - Went to Boy Scout Camp and canoed 100 miles through the lakes of Upstate New York and Canada - Meanwhile back home, my sister taped each episode for me. By the end of eight grade, I had apx. 150 of the 170 episodes on Beta. And, it was awesome.

They would show them in order, generally. Every once in a while they'd throw in a random one but they were pretty consistent. They just kept skipping some episodes. And, after I'd gone through once and got everything I could, it became tougher to get the stragglers. I'd have to tune in or tape it just to see if it was one I had. Generally, it was. As high school began, I drifted to slasher films but my Beta collection of Green Acres stood proud and tall. Until, by the mid 90's, both our Betas had broken down...

Columbia House helped. I got 11 VHS tapes from them with 44 uncut episodes. Then, the MGM discs gave me Seasons 1-3. 92 episodes of magic. Then, TV Land provided the rest (except for one) and here I am...I still watch it as I used to. When I'm in a GA mood, I throw on a disc and just watch until I can't watch no more. Back in the 80's, it was a Beta tape and a whirlwind. I used to tape the five episodes of the week and then, on Friday night, sit and watch all five. My Goodness, I had a great time.

It was (is) such a joyous show, rarely mean-spirited, full of great characters that made me laugh. That's why I started this blog. To try and transfer some of my joy over to you...I remember my Uncle Roger, one cold night in 1986, watching some episodes with me and saying "Green Acres? I remember this. Why are you watching this?" He was the man who introduced me to Doctor Who (the only TV show I prize above GA). I so wanted him to enjoy it. But, he seemed disinterested. I kept laughing and saying "Isn't that great?" but nothing.

Uncle Rog, you readin' this? Go watch some Green Acres. Payback for all the great stuff you introduced me to.

Everyone else...please continue enjoying. In the spirit of discovery, no more "Next Time" tags. Just know that, until we reach the end, there will be a next time.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1.10.: Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

"You got a lime spreader."
"No. And, I'm not gonna buy the one you have on your truck."
"I haven't got one on my truck."
"Wanna buy a truck?"

We are cooking now. Mr. Kimball has the first of his all-out forgetful and funny scenes (and the Chief comes up). The telephone pole with the phone on top arrives. We get the first town-wide comedy scenes when Oliver's old law partner, Judson Carter Felton, keeps trying to call Hooterville. We get the first sequence where an outsider enters Lisa and Oliver's new life and sees only insanity. The show has arrived and damn it's good.

Lisa is still having trouble with the Generator "Plug-In" system. Oliver is getting ready to spread lime on the soil. And, JC Felton is trying to get Oliver to come back to NYC for three weeks to finish a case. During all of this, the hassle of contacting NYC gets Oliver his phone on a pole outside the bedroom. Why on a pole? They ran out of wire.

I always loved the phone up the pole. (Contrary to GA poplar belief, the phone does go inside during Season Three and, I think, it's there for a while. We'll see when we get there.) It makes for a lot of great physical comedy and a lot of casual athletics from Eddie Albert as he goes out the window and up it. I like the "We ran out of wire" thing too. Oliver & Lisa wake up at 5:30 AM and the pole is out there. It is dawn. So, they put it up when it was still dark. They brought the wire all the way out, put up the pole and just placed a phone on the top when they discovered that they had no more wire...all in the dark, without making a sound. Awesome. Pure classic comedy. How'd they do it? Who cares! You wake up every day to discover new obstacles and here, very literally, is a new one for our favorite farm couple.

The phone actually arrives because of the scene with Mr. Kimball. This is the first of the absolutely wonderful Hank scenes. He is forgetful ("No. I left my lunch there.") and confused ("What have you got here?" to the dozen bags that say "LIME" on them) and throwing out anecdotes about his boss, the Chief ("If we don't laugh at that joke, he fires us. Well, not fires. He suspends us without pay forever."). I wish we got to meet the Chief but, like Maris in Frasier, it's better that we don't. Then, he can become the craziest boss ever.

Anyway...Sarah, the woman who runs the phone company, is Hank's Mother. But, they've had a fight and Hank ran away from home a week ago. (Mom wouldn't let him have a dog.) Oliver asks Hank to talk to his Mom about their phone. Well, the next morning, the pole is there and Oliver is a hero for bringing a Mother and Son back together. Of course, Oliver has no idea what they're talking about but he gets a phone out of it.

Lisa does a lot of meal preparing in this episode and a lot of standing around being pretty and charming. In fact, Oliver doesn't really do too much either. They just sort of react to everything around them a lot for the first half. Then, when JC Felton arrives at the house, they just act normally (the way they've been acting for the past nine episodes) and it does, indeed, look like they're a bit crazy. In the second episode of My Three Sons, they bring in an old lady who watches the Douglases (no, this time it's Steve and his three sons) and thinks they live in a hellhole. A second episode, before we've seen everyone do their thing, is far too early for this sort of thing. And, the episode isn't that great. Here, with JC Felton, it's perfect. Mainly because the episode is paced very quickly. It cooks along and suddenly, halfway in, Felton is there and, in rapid succession, he goes from room to room and then winds up up the pole and then on the ground. Nicely done. GA would do this again but much later when the world is far more complex. (What would Felton have done with Arnold or a flirting Ralph, I wonder?)

It's not only the swift pace that makes the episode such a joy but the fact that it's funny. For some reason, Haney mistaking Judson Carter Felton, prominent NYC attorney, for his pal Gomer always makes me laugh. And, when Mrs. Ziffel does the same thing, I laugh again. Floyd Smoot's yell to NYC is funny. Uncle Joe's trouble with everyone's name shows that, perhaps, Joe works best in short bursts rather than as the constant flim-flam man that he is in Petticoat Junction. Well, I think so. Could you imagine a show devoted to Mr. Haney? I'd go mad. Short bursts of their comedy works best...Although, an Eb and Hank Kimball show? Anyone?

Every episode adds a little something extra. Every episode raises the "Laugh-O-Meter" a little higher. Wonderful show. If you watch this and you don't laugh, then I don't know what to tell you because it's funny. Maybe One Day At A Time is more your speed. It's shot on cheap video and it's topical (circa 30 years ago) so...that must mean something. What I'm saying is that if you watch this and don't like it...you won't like GA. If you watch it and like it, let's keep traveling. This is good stuff.

Next episode: The first one I recorded on Betamax back in 1986.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

1.9.: You Can't Plug In a 2 With a 6

"People used to say to me and Fred all the time 'Are you John Wayne?' I had an awful time convincing them I wasn't."

Great title, great episode.

The show has backed away from its growing similarity to Petticoat Junction. It's now starting to fill out and look like the Green Acres that I know and love. This episode is loaded with supporting characters and pure zaniness, which are two hallmarks of GA. The title is named after the new "Generator Plug-in" system.

All the kitchen appliances are linked to a list. (The list is below.) Each appliance has a number from 1-6. You cannot plug in more than 7. And, no matter how many times Oliver explains it, Lisa always gets it wrong. It's a scene with some lovely verbal shenanigans to open the show...

...which is really about Oliver and all the other farmers choosing what to plant. Oliver wants to do wheat. But, Doris Ziffel has lumbago, which means corn. Oliver never seems to lose his faith in the American farmer even when he finds out that they base all of their planting on nothing but aches and bumps (Wheat Bumps! Cranky spells mean soybeans. If you've got a cold, it's potatoes. Headache is asparagus. Swollen ankles are carrots.). In fact, he gets caught up in it, too. In fact, he gets so caught up in trading his seed in over and over again, that I've forgotten what he chose in the end. I guess we'll find out next time.

Mr. Kimball is definitely becoming the wonderfully forgetful and tangential character that will rule the Comedy Waves! His scene in this one, filled with confusion and backtracking, is very funny. Mr. Ziffel, Doris and Sam Drucker are all lined up and fired upon, like bucolic Comedy Targets. They just get nuttier as Oliver gets more confused. Even Arnold makes a brief appearance. We are slowly setting up that pig.

As I watched this episode last night, I tried desperately to remember every great thing that happened. But, I've forgotten most of it. It's such a good time. The episode cooks along with the Plug-In system bookending everything as Oliver tries to pick out seed in the middle. There are a butt load of gloriously funny and lovely moments. This could, possibly, be the first of the "Really Wonderful" episodes. It has everything a Green Acres episode needs, including remembering to have Lisa mention NYC a few times to remind us of the 6-month agreement. (She does say that she's been here five weeks now. At some point, time slowed down or episodes aired slightly out of order.) Eb still isn't quite in place and two major supporting folks aren't here yet but boy this show is great.

It's all praise here. After two slightly worrying episodes, we are back and the show is kicking behind again. I can't wait to see Oliver planting them fields.

Before I go...I double checked the "Plug-In" List.

Can Opener - 1
Coffee Pot - 2
Electric Iron - 2
Toaster - 2
Mixer - 2
Frying Pan - 3
Rotisserie - 4
Dishwasher - 5
Washing Machine - 6
Freezer - 6
Refrigerator - 6

Next episode: Reaffirmation of Oliver's Ideals...set in the Land of Wacky!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

1.8.: Lisa The Helpmate

"Lisa, I've got to drive up to the State University to take these soil samples."
"What happened to the other ones?"
"They broke them."
"They didn't like them."

Screenplay by Jay & Dick
Story by Al Schwartz & Lou Huston
I would guess that this means Al & Lou submitted an outline or a script. Jay & Dick bought it and then rewrote it to fit their needs. That's a guess. This will happen again.

The first episode with someone other than Jay & Dick on the credits is quite a good one, although we are still in a Mom-heavy realm. She gets a plotline where she gets asked out on a date with Uncle Joe and then she fiddles with Oliver's soil samples and causes much confusion & worry. Honestly, she's fine when she's up against Uncle Joe but even Oliver is getting tired of her trying to get Lisa to go back. Even my wife said "OK, Old Lady. We get it." I'm afraid I agree with my wife and Oliver Wendell Douglas. Luckily, her tirade during this episode happens while Lisa is making the bed in a rather funny fashion.

This episode still has a touch of Petticoat Junction to it. The strangeness that was building up in the first six episodes isn't here again, with one exception. However, the two main plotlines, that converge nicely in the end, are funny and one of them brings the Soil Sample running bit of the past few episodes to a close. I'm interested now in seeing at what point the show becomes itself. It seems to be moving towards its own identity but now its in a strange limbo. Funny, yes. Charming, yes. Paced nicely, yes. Green Acres? Not quite. Could it be Mother's influence? Possibly with her around Jay & Dick feel like they need to write in a different way than they had been planning? Guesswork, all guesswork.

Here's something that always confused me: the episode title doesn't really make sense. The Soil Sample jars break. Oliver's Mom throws all sorts of junk in the soil, like cold cream and makeup. He's given a bad Soil Report but finds out about Mother's trick. In the meantime, Lisa plants a parcel of land with rented vegetables to make Oliver feel better. She's certainly a helpmate here but it's at the very end...I wonder if Al & Lou's original script had Lisa putting all the junk in the soil. Jay & Dick changed it to Lisa's mom since she was still there. I don't know.

Regardless of my musings...

Oliver gets some lovely moments here. He begins planting his seeds. One seed at a time using one finger to make the hole. And, he keeps pulling up bottles that Mr. Haney buried back there during his big parties. Eventually, Oliver has a big old bandage on his finger. Once he discovers that Mr. Kimball broke his soil samples, he spirals downwards pretty quick. Why wouldn't he? The whole farm is in jeopardy. He is very visibly sad when he returns from the University and tells Lisa to pack it up because their soil is nutty. And, once he learns that his Mother played a trick on him, he's right back to being Oliver again.

Lisa doesn't do a lot here. She makes the bed and is part of the matchmaking squad that gets Uncle Joe and Mother together and she declares that she's not happy if Oliver's not happy, which is why she's giving him the six months. In the end, her renting of the vegetables (and the subsequent cleaning of the vegetables) is wonderful. She loves Oliver. They love each other. It's really cool.

Uncle Joe and Kate get a long scene at the Shady Rest, which leads me to believe that Al & Lou may have been PJ writers. That scene is 100% pure Junction. If the show was really becoming more like its sister, than they would have been perfect. As it is, their contribution here fits right into the show at this moment. Outside writers won't begin to look strange until next season. When the show has its own identity, it becomes pretty obvious that most writers really don't quite know what is needed.

The one person here who seems to be on the GA track to Magic and Wonder in Hooterville is Hank Kimball. His first scene in the field with the broken Soil Samples is almost the Hank we will know and love. As with the first time we saw him, the sort of confused forgetfulness he exhibits here is more him covering up a mistake than intrinsic to the character but its funny. And, I can only think that Jay & Dick saw him in this scene and thought "That character is real funny when he can't remember a darn thing. Let's follow that down." I'm glad they did.

Overall, I enjoy this episode. The show has now gone for two episodes drawing ever closer to sharing the same disposition as PJ. But, this is a detour. It'll change soon. I think the proper alignment of Hank Kimball's character and, as I've mentioned before, the arrival of the full-on supporting cast will bring us truly to life. Until then, enjoy the calm loveliness of the show...before the farmyards of Hooterville go really nutty.

Next episode: The electricity chart arrives.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

1.7.: Neighborliness

"Your mother loves you."
"Then, why does she always introduce me as her attorney?"

A slightly odd episode. And, it took a few minutes of thinking to figure out why I find it odd. The first act takes place in the morning. Mother is visiting. Oliver is fixing the front porch rail and making it into the trademark wobbly, uneven rail we'll see for the rest of the show. And, Lisa cooks breakfast, with some help from Mother. The second act is a visit from the still-not-quite-there-yet Mr. Kimball who tells Oliver that he should start plowing immediately or he'll miss the planting season. Oliver tries a Haney plow but it's a bust. Then, Oliver learns that Mr. Drucker can't get him a plow in time. But...Uncle Joe wants a shotgun.

Act Three is a plowing party at the Douglas place with contests and prizes and all that great stuff. All of it arranged by Uncle Joe, who has taken the entry fee and ran. Oliver gets his fields plowed and everyone is happy. And...it all doesn't seem quite right. It all seems slightly different from what we've seen or, honestly, from what we know the show will become. Of course, I can't fault the episode for not being what I love most in the show because the show is still growing. For most of the season, it will be finding its proper niche. But, and this is the clincher for me, I had to go back and re-check who wrote this episode when I was done. It's Jay & Dick. It almost feels like someone else could have written it or, at least, that they were trying something a bit different.

Now, I don't want anyone to think I'm a bit down on this episode because of any of that. This is a fun and charming episode of Green Acres. It's not really that funny and it's a bit slower than the previous ones and the main thrust of the third act occurs because of one of Uncle Joe's schemes...Ah-ha! I wouldn't have thought of this a year ago but now I know what this feels like: an episode of Petticoat Junction. It has the same laziness to it (not a bad laziness) and it is driven ahead by an Uncle Joe scheme. Well, in the future, GA will occasionally wander near satire, like the Beverly Hillbillies, so why can't it try to be more charming and bucolic, like PJ?

Possibly because PJ is the most sitcom-like of all three of these shows. Possibly because GA doesn't feel like GA when it feels like PJ. Possibly because GA requires that touch of madness that elevates it above the shows around it.

That's three "possibly's". I think that's enough.

I wonder if there's a corresponding episode in the land of the Junction? It's about Uncle Joe wanting a new shotgun. He gets everyone to pay him an entry fee for the Douglas's Plowing Party that he just made up. As that's going on, he's doing something wacky with the shotgun, maybe shooting Floyd Smoot in the slats.

I think this feels sort of like a place holder episode. It's certainly fun to watch but it doesn't move the show ahead at all, apart from Oliver's fields getting plowed. And, Mother takes a bit too much of the spotlight here for my tastes. I think she will get hooked up with Uncle Joe again next episode and that's when I like her the most. She's there to tempt Lisa back to NYC. But, as the show goes on, Lisa will become more of a Hooterville resident so Mom will become superfluous. And, frankly, her shtick is getting a bit old. She doesn't like the farm or the house, I get it. Bring on more Mr. Kimball! Where's Alf and Ralph?

I guess I'm pining towards the full cast of characters being in place.

Oh...we do see Mrs. Ziffel for the first time here. And, both her and Fred don't seem quite right. Soon...

Watch the episode. It's charming. It's just missing some of the verve that make Green Acres so special. It's like a lesser track on a Beatles album ("Wait"?). It's definitely the Beatles and there are moments that grab you but you kind of wish they had re-written it or tossed it out and brought in something stronger. However, we have it...so let's enjoy it.

Next episode: Uncle Joe and Mother - An Item?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

1.6.: Furniture, Furniture, Who's Got the Furniture?

"You're as pretty as a little red wagon rolling up a steep hill."

I almost left off the quote because this is the first episode with about a dozen possible quotes for "Best (or Most Representative) Line of the Episode". This one is packed. I would call this the first of the Really Great episodes of the show. Yes, Lisa and Oliver a bit too laughy in the beginning and Lisa's "Mooo!" doesn't do anyone any favors but they don't really get in the way.

Lisa is continually smiling and happy in this episode, except when the furniture doesn't arrive on time. It seems odd until Oliver joins in. They are in a very nice space, once the opening scene is out of the way. "Hoyt-Clagwell!" That darn tractor. Oliver tries to use it to pull up a stump but it just falls to pieces. Apparently, the Hoyt-Clagwell line of tractors is mostly junk. And, there's nothing Oliver can do because Hoyt & Clagwell broke up years ago because their wives couldn't get along. Oliver declares that he will never purchase another thing from Mr. Haney!...and then they go and deliver the Douglas's furniture to Mr. Haney's house.

Apart from this opener, both Lisa and Oliver are in high spirits. Oliver's Mom gets the short end of the dramatic stick here. She arrives at the Hooterville station and calls "The Haney Place"...but, of course, Oliver & Lisa don't have a phone and she speaks to Mr. Haney. From that point on, she goes on an all-day journey with Uncle Joe. The scene where she is pumping the handcart down the track as Uncle Joe sits in front is wonderful. Mom ends up in a field being attacked by a bull.

So much joy in this episode. The quote above begins the "things that country folk say to city folk because that's what they want to hear" thread. "Pushing a straw hat through a key hole" is a great one. The red wagon up the steep hill is the first. Throughout the show, these strange sayings that make no sense will pop up and confuse Oliver. They're spoken as charming colloquialisms but, really, they make no sense. I love 'em.

The furniture does arrive by the end of the episode and it fills up the house. Everything is crammed everywhere. The daybed in the kitchen is a nice touch. But, the bed in the bedroom literally fills up the room. There is a nice scene with Oliver and Lisa trying to maneuver through the crowded room. Lisa does a athletic bounce on the bed and falls onto Oliver's back. It's very charming. I'm not sure what Lisa is thinking throughout this episode. Most likely, "I'm a month-and-a-half into the six months. I am going to make the best of this." And, she certainly seems to be.

Oliver doesn't do anything really farmy here, except for the tree stump pulling. It's all about the wallpaper and the furniture. He seems quite contented. Even the thought of his Mother coming to visit doesn't chill his bones. It probably helps that she doesn't actually make it there by the end.

Sam Drucker has a nice chat with Sarah the operator. Oliver has to make a call to New York City. Sam insists that he put the call through because long distance calls can scare Sarah. "Hold on to your plugs." When Oliver gets the info he needs from a man who comes in the store, he leaves while the call is being put through. "Sarah, don't cry. He'll make another long distance call someday." In Mayberry, Sarah is very competent and always helps Andy and Barney get what they need. In Hooterville, Sarah is a little shaky.

This episode is excellent. One of my favorites from this season. It's funny, weird, paced very quickly and ever-so-charming. And, the great thing is that the show just keeps improving. There's so much great stuff coming.

Next episode: Bring on the neighbors!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1.5.: My Husband, the Rooster Renter

"You call this a farm!"
"No. You called it a farm when you sold it to me."

The early episodes of Green Acres (specifically up to The Day of Decision, episode 22 of this season) have a very different feel from the rest of the show. They're very serial-like. In fact, I guess you could say they are a serial, a la Lum & Abner or Amos & Andy from the 30's/ early 40's. The basic plotline in each episode follows the Douglas's attempting to make their house a home, whether that involves redoing the bedroom or just trying to get a telephone in. Lisa trying to become a farm wife and consistently failing is another thread. A third deals with Oliver's attempts at being a farmer. Some episodes lean more on one bit than the other. This one has a bit of all three.

The "County Agent" arrives and he's kind of helpful, which is a heck of a surprise because the "County Agent" in question is Mr. Kimball. As the season moves along, Mr. Kimball will become one of the most consistently funny fellows that sitcoms have ever seen. But, in this, his first appearance, he's relatively restrained. He seems as amused as everyone else that Mr. Douglas has bought the Old Haney Place. He can't even give Oliver an honest opinion on the land at the end of their meeting. Very soon, he will become a strange, wandering forgetful man who works for one of the strangest (never seen) people around. The closest we get to the Hank we'll know is when he fumbles over Oliver's land question but that's not forgetfulness, that's trying to be tactful and failing. More about Mr. Kimball as he develops.

Mr. Haney does, indeed, rent Oliver a rooster and hen, Bertram and Alice, respectively. But, of course, Bertram is a rotten crower (he's really a pecker). The ill-timed crowing of the rooster causes wackiness throughout, along with making Lisa say the title at the end as she laughs at Oliver's dazed reactions to the rooster's crowing. And, as always, seeing Lisa laugh like that is pretty odd.

Lisa tries to cook the hotcakes again. One of them sticks to the burner. Oliver tries to spatula it up and gets the whole burner attached. "I think you're doing something wrong with these pancakes." At least, at this point, they still see the problem and are trying to work on it. Very soon, everyone would give up and live with the hotcakes and all their variations.

This is the episode where they get running water (definitely), electricity (sort of) and a telephone (not really). There is a wonderful sequence where the plumber is popping up in closets and on the roof as he traces the pipes. Then, the roofer suddenly appears from under the sink because he thought the plumber would be there. One of three moments where you can see the show shaping into what it will be. The other two are:

2) Mr. Drucker marrying a sack of flour and a sack of potatoes.
3) Lisa calls Hooterville "Hootersville". Oliver corrects her. She then calls it "Hoosterville." Eb immediately walks up and says "Are you going to Hoosterville?"

Oh boy. We're getting there.

The show has got a real nice groove here. The episode moves along at a decent pace. There are always several things going on so it never gets slow. For example, Lisa cooks hotcakes while plumbers and roofers crawl around the house while Mr. Haney tries to get them to rent Alice the chicken. It's edited very swiftly, which is great because a lot of sitcoms from this time can really make you feel the 25 minutes. GA generally has a lovely flow to it. As the show develops, it would focus more on one plot but it would have a large series of supporting characters to move around within. Now, it keeps up the pace by never settling on one thing. It's great.

Oliver is dealing quite well with the fact that no one seems assured of his farming abilities. In fact, once again, he delivers a heartfelt, stirring speech to Eb and Mr. Kimball. Both of them look utterly confused. He is also keeping fairly patient about all the house stuff. Water is hooked up but they need electricity to get the pump going. So, they rent a rotten generator from Haney. The telephone company brings over a phone, puts it on the wall and says it will be three months before they get the wires. Through it all, Oliver keeps relative calm.

Lisa seems to be in a bit of a state of grace here, too. She laughs at a lot of stuff and seems amused by life on the farm. Possibly, without Oliver's Mom there, she's adapting, ever so slowly. Tough to say. She's definitely still a Big City gal at this point. The scene where Sam Drucker is talking to Sarah the Operator and Sarah wants to know what Lisa is wearing is charming. And, the first time I ever heard the word "chartreuse".

Mignon, their dog, is a girl. I always thought she was a boy. I don't know why.

At the end, with a bum rooster, loud generator, no telephone and, possibly, nothing to eat but hotcakes for the rest of their lives, Oliver & Lisa seem very happy. The adventure continues...

Next episode: They can stop paying rental on those cots and that kitchen table.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

1.4.: The Best Laid Plans

"I just came to ship our furniture to Green Acres."
"Green Acres? You mean Yuk Manor."

Welcome Elinor and the old Hoyt-Clagwell tractor!

Once again, there's no real main plot here. Lisa goes back to NYC to work on packing up their furniture. Oliver stays at the farm and, with the help of Eb and a wonderfully temperamental tractor, begins to plan out the farm. In the first half of the episode, everyone keeps offering Oliver their condolences...Lisa has finally left him. As with the last episode, folks seem to know exactly what's happening at the Douglas farm. The episode shifts in the second half as Oliver's Mom (Why does she dislike her son so much? I don't think we ever learn.) convinces Lisa to have an architect lay out their land with a swimming pool, tennis courts, projection room, etc. Meanwhile, Oliver uses an old piece of wallpaper to sketch out the crops on their land.

It all sounds pretty sitcomy but the joy of Green Acres is the way it uses these ideas to its advantage. The "Lisa has left Oliver" plotline is used as a conversation-starter. The other folks in Hooterville really feel for Oliver but Oliver is confused by their misunderstanding and, frankly, more interested in working on getting his farm ready. He has everything ready; his plans are grandiose. They're waiting on the "County Agent". (More about him in a moment.)

The parallel sequence of the very different plans for the farm being laid out is nicely done. Oliver's mother is perfectly willing to spend all of her son's money to make the 160 acres into a country club. Lisa wants to soup the place up, too. And, after initial reticence, she dives right in. Meanwhile, Oliver and Eb are setting out Oliver's dream on that old piece of wallpaper. There is a moment when the plans intersect. Lisa plans a croquet field. Oliver wants to use the spot for sugar beets. Eb points out that "That's where Mr. Haney used to play croquet!" In the end, the new Hooterville Country Club on the Douglas land is nixed but the script doesn't really care about the outcome. Oliver says no and Lisa shrugs and carries on. Another sitcom would have stopped and had them have a real heart-to-heart but Jay & Dick are smarter than that.

We know that they know that Oliver will never allow his land to be turned into a country club. So, they have fun with the set-up and treat the resolution as a forgone conclusion. If this plot had taken up the episode, maybe we would have needed more. But, at this point, the show is so much like a serial that it really doesn't affect anything. Oliver says no and we carry on. As I said, they're using sitcom conventions and doing their own thing with it. There were plenty of lazy sitcoms out there. GA will rarely become lazy.

The actual thread that runs though the whole episode is the "County Agent". He will arrive and he will tell Oliver exactly what needs to be done to the land. I thought this magic man would show up in this episode but I guess it's the next one. I think hindsight (or foresight) makes this constant mentioning of the "County Agent" important. I don't know that anyone watching this for the first time would think anything of it. But, I know who the man is that they are waiting for...

Hank Kimball.

(Oliver seems to anticipate Mr. Kimball's arrival when he says to Lisa that they have the richest soil...he pauses...and says "maybe not the richest...")

Every step of the way there's something getting in the way of Oliver's dream. This episode has a lovely feel of "Oliver may get everything in place. This will work out." Well, Mr. Kimball hasn't shown up yet. When he does, the dream will get another piece knocked out of it.

We meet Elinor the cow in this episode. Mr. Haney pulls off some chicanery to get her into Oliver's life. She's a homing cow. She keeps returning to her home: the Douglas's barn. In the end, Oliver won't buy Elinor so Haney tricks Lisa into buying her. (They do throw in an old joke here: Lisa saying she wants the house to be nice for the three of them. Oliver's eyes light up. It's not a child she's talking about but Elinor. You know....I never really thought of Oliver as the type who wanted a child, nor Lisa the type who would have the patience to raise one.) Elinor will now moo her way through the rest of the series.

The Hoyt-Clagwell looks more inanimate but is very picky/ tricky. This is the tractor. The tractor that is constantly falling apart or refusing to run. But, this time it's not Mr. Douglas who is causing the problem. Eb says that Mr. Haney used to have the same troubles with it. The tractor isn't named here. It's just "the tractor". "The tractor" that will acquire a life of its own. And, its history is far more convoluted than the history of your average tractor. I think. I've never owned one but I imagine I'm right.

I can't forget Ben Miller. He's the man who has the farm adjacent to the Douglas's. He grows a lot of apples. He's a congenial older man who seems to farm his 140 acres all by himself. Well, I never see anyone else. His house is one of the ones in the opening credits. I kind of almost forgot him because he'll be very important later in the season and then he'll be gone. Just keep in mind: Ben Miller. Owns the farm next door. 140 acres. Apples.

To return to the overall feel of the episode, it's an incredibly charming & relaxed episode. It never goes too fast but never gets too slow. The scene always shifts before something can go on too long. And, Eb is slowly beginning to become the Eb we know and love. His moment on the train is 100% pure Eb. Probably the first moment like that. It bodes well for a character who will become gloriously odd as we move through the series. I will say that, at this point, the show could possibly use some more supporting characters. It's really Oliver, Lisa, Mother, Eb, Mr. Haney and brief appearances by folks from Petticoat Junction at this point.

Never fear. The supporting characters are coming and they will be great. At the moment, though, we have a very small main group of characters. I could see someone watching and wondering where the show will go from here. The farm and the house stuff can go on for ages but some more supporting characters seem to be a necessity to keep the comedy flowing. And, in fact, they are and Jay & Dick know it. They'll be loading us up soon. The whole foundation is being set and we will be commandeering Mr. Drucker and the Ziffels for ourselves shortly. Sorry, PJ.

That's really the only drawback to this episode. If the show is going to continue as strong as it has been, it needs to open up a bit and include some more people. It will, my friend, it will. But, at the same time, it will not lose the central pillars of Oliver and Lisa. Who, by the way, have just spent their first month on the farm. Five left.

The show is slowly constructing its world while continuing to throw in good gags. Sometimes all it takes for a TV show to be that much better than the ones around it is to have folks working on it that are honestly good at what they do. Some shows, like Leave It To Beaver, never quite seemed to figure that out. Green Acres gets it right at the start and doesn't let up. Thank Goodness.

In the next episode, the County Agent arrives. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1.3.: The Decorator

"He bought the Haney place...Yeah, the Haney place. No...he don't look like a drinkin' man."

And so, the Douglas's spend their first night on the farm. They sleep on small cots Mr. Douglas rented from Mr. Haney. No electricity yet. So, their electric blankets are hooked up to the car battery. Lisa announces that if she is going to stay, Oliver must hire a decorator. The house is a real shambles. Cracked walls, peeling wallpaper, doorknobs falling off, holes in the floor...and it doesn't seem to faze Oliver one bit. He just want to farm...and he wants his farm wife to cook his breakfast.

Apart from people thinking Oliver's a bit nuts, Lisa's hotcakes are the longest running gag on the show. Over the next six years and 168 episodes, no matter how many times she cooks these things, they won't improve. And, here's something I forgot...Do you know who showed Lisa how to make hotcakes?

Kate Bradley. Remember what I said about Kate trying to help Lisa and having it come to nothing, unlike everything she did for people on Petticoat Junction. Well, here's another example. Kate arrives with a basket full of food. She and Lisa dive right into making hotcakes...and they are instantly terrible. They're either chewy and stretchable, like eating rubber, or they're so hard they can break a plate. I wonder why Kate doesn't have Lisa do another batch correctly? Maybe because Oliver eats it all with a big grin? Lisa's hotcakes will go through many variations over the next six years but never become good to eat. They will always be terrible. In fact, apart from when she has amnesia, Lisa never cooks anything worth eating. After a time, the viewer will start to worry for everyone's health. And, does Lisa eat the hotcakes too? I've never seen her do it.

The cooking of the hotcakes is just one part of the episode. The title may be "The Decorator" and the summaries you'll find may intimate that this is what the episode is about...but it's not. It's a thread that runs through the episode and caps off the ending but it's not the episode. There is no real plot. It's about their first complete day on the farm, but mostly in the house.

Oliver is trying to get the farm started. He still firmly believes in all the farming rhetoric in his mind. He is diligently poring over his Dept. of Agriculture pamphlets and telling Eb how a farm should be run. Lisa is trying to cook and trying to be a farm wife but she really has no clue. Eb is being sarcastic and trying to eat the hotcakes. Mr. Haney rents them a kitchen table. Oliver's Mother is coming to visit. Her series of faints when she arrives at the house are great. Her comments about "You don't have to keep a promise. You're a woman!" are, possibly, less great.

Just a quick bit on Oliver's mom: She shows up quite often in the first season and, most of the time, she will become the brunt of a joke but not always. When the second season begins and the show has far more interesting local supporting characters, she will fade away (with the notable exception of a rather bland episode). She's not without her charms but she's never that interesting, a holdover from the 50's or the radio sitcoms of the 40's. The big twist here is that she is not Oliver's mother-in-law but his mother. That twist is fine but sometimes she gets in the way. When they realize that the best way to use her is to team her up with Uncle Joe, then she really becomes fun.

Just a quick note to me: Jay & Dick began writing comedy for the radio. One of the things I've always loved about Green Acres is that it feels different from other sitcoms, at its best. I was never quite able to figure out why. Then, I read somewhere (Sorry, I've forgotten where) that the show is structured like a radio show, Fibber McGee and Molly or Jack Benny, for example. I think that's right and I want to write about that. But, not in this entry. Later. Maybe a separate entry.

Back to the review...

At this point in the show, Mr. Haney arriving with exactly what Oliver needs isn't strange. It's logical. At night, they'll need to rent cots. The next morning, they'll need to rent a table and chairs. Soon, he will arrive with some very prescient items but not yet. However, it's over in Mr. Drucker's store that the strangeness of Hooterville begins to rise.

Mr. Douglas shows up to ask about a decorator and get some basic staples for the house. There is a funny bit with Sam detailing his Honeymooner's Special, complete with a "Keep Smiling" sign. But, it's the other parts of their conversation that seem odd here but pretty natural later on. Mr. Drucker knows everything that is going on at the Douglas's house even though he hasn't been there or been told what's happening by someone who has been. How is that possible? Sam says he just keeps his ears open. Oliver is amazed. The ability everyone in Hooterville has of knowing everything Oliver & Lisa are doing just by turning an ear to the wind will grow as the show goes on. I'd forgotten it was Sam (who is still rooted in the "normal" world of Petticoat Junction) who first brings it up.

The last couple of minutes of this episode may be a little too sitcomy...the decorator joke is good but should come with a wacky series of tuba sounds on the soundtrack. And, when Oliver shows Lisa their One Week Anniversary cake with their fixed-up house on it, Lisa makes a joke and laughs at it. It seems strange. I don't think it would have seemed that way to someone watching the show for the first time from the beginning. Lisa is still a New York Gal here. The settling in is a gradual process.

The closing moment of the episode is nice and racy. Lisa blows out the candle and the bedroom goes into complete darkness. Pause. Lisa tells Oliver to be careful because he's crushing the cake. Now, that's good naughtiness! Apart from The Addams Family, I don't think any other couples were this affectionate in 60's sitcoms. I love it. It's a calm randiness that rides through the series.

Episode Three. Another great one. It moves very slow in comparison to something today but, compared to Petticoat Junction or My Three Sons, it whips along. Helped greatly by the fact that there are so many funny moments from the hotcakes to the fainting to the pulling of the cots through the front window to Mr. Haney's fake elation when he realizes that he has a table on his truck...Good stuff. And, slowly, the farm is being put together. That's a good thing.

Next episode: Is it all over? So soon!...No. It's just a little drama.

Friday, July 17, 2009

1.2: Lisa's First Day On The Farm

"You should see the size of this cellar!"

Abandoning the faux-documentary of the series premiere, this second episode of Green Acres is more straightforward in structure.Lisa gets a tour of the house ("the Haney Place"), hates it and almost goes back to NYC. Kate Bradley convinces her to stay, in true Petticoat Junction-style.

The episode starts out in an odd manner...a pre-credits sequence. In Season Six, they would use them but here it stands out. We see that the Douglas's apartment is being sub-let. A couple (who probably sub-let an apartment in every sitcom of the 60's) love the apartment. But, there are two stipulations: 1) the furniture is not included & 2) they must take care of the farm. The "farm" being the collection of Oliver's plants on the balcony. This teaser ends with a great moment. The new tenants say something like "If he was so crazy about farming, why doesn't he just buy a farm?" Close up of the realtor: "He did." Cut right to the opening credits...Great opening. Restates the premise and glides right back into it.

(On a little side note, I first discovered the inconveniences of syndication cuts back in 1986 with this episode. CBN was showing GA at 5Pm every weekday. So, I was diligently taping it on Beta. WTBS started showing it at 4AM so I would timer record it to try and catch episodes I'd missed. Lisa's First Day On The Farm aired on the two stations very close to one another. The CBN version began with the opening credits and flowed. Imagine my surprise when the WTBS episode has a pre-credits sequence! The hell! Unfortunately, I was in 7th grade and my peers could have truly given a crap when I told them about my findings. (If it wasn't Foreigner or The Beastie Boys, I got kicked in the slats.) Oh well. At least I could tell you folks about it.)

Then, the main body of the episode begins and...

Hello, Eb!

Hello, Mr. Haney!

Two great characters. The character of Pat Buttram's Haney is there from moment one. A man whose entire waking life (and possibly his dreams) is taken up with swindling. In these early episodes, his swindles are the most profitable but the least creative. He's basically taken everything, including sinks and bathtubs, out of the Douglas's new home. So, Oliver has to buy all of it back...and then he'll buy livestock and a very special Hoyt Clagwell tractor. Haney always seems to be there immediately with whatever Mr. Douglas needs...to the point where I'm pretty sure Oliver could have him arrested for trespassing.

I've always liked Mr. Haney. He's not my favorite but his appearances are always a good time. Personally, I've always thought that being so constantly on the make for some dough must get tiring. But, if this is how he makes his living, then I guess it wouldn't be but the way he gets around would wear me out.

Eb was Mr. Haney's hired hand and, by the end of the episode, he is Mr. Douglas's. A tall, thin fellow with a slight sarcastic streak that will have become wonderfully odd by the end of the season. Here he seems rather restrained if you know the Eb of later in the series.

The biggest addition to this episode is Mr. Dick Chevillat. Jay Sommers was described as the "story guy". Dick was the "gag man". And, the quality of the gags pick up here. The 10-minute (apx.) walk through the empty house for the first time is wonderful. Oliver's insistence that "I can fix it." becomes funnier when you realize that everything is in need of fixing. Eb's chatter and Mr. Haney's flim-flammery have a nice kick to them. You can tell that something has been added to the writer's mix. His influence will increase as they comtinue to find the show's footing during this first season. We're still setting the foundations out here.

Then, there's Lisa... She's glamorous and lovely and sophisticated and Oliver must be a little loopy if he really thought that she was going to adore all of this rural, well, squalor. But, and we don't see this here, Lisa is a great adapter. In these early episodes, she is the wife of a wealthy (possibly?) man who spends his time & money indulging her whims. Now, she's indulging his and she doesn't seem to like it. As the show progresses, she will do what Oliver never does...adapt to her new life. She doesn't become the perfect farm wife. She becomes a true resident of Hooterville, which is far more important. (Remembering that it will be a while before we fully see how odd Hooterville is.)

Oliver is showing his first sign of troubles here. He keeps up the optimism throughout the opening but it cracks upon our return to Drucker's General Store. Joe Carson is running a pool based around how long the Douglas's will stay. Oliver seems thrilled when he hears 12. "12 years?" "Days." Then, the first sign of his temper being lost is encountered. And, it will happen again and again. In future episodes, he will deny being a hothead. And, maybe if things were going his way, he would probably be the picture of calm. But, this isn't a collection of Daily Affirmations, it's a sitcom. Oliver will be losing his temper a lot.

In fact, Lisa gets flustered as much as Oliver here. But, once she adapts, that will rarely happen. Life is life and you either move with it or try and stand in its way. I wonder if Oliver ever thought "Hey! All this trouble I have around here is just as stressful, if not more, than the rat race I got away from! I was a good lawyer so I had some control there. Here, in Hooterville, I'm the odd man out! These people aren't the backbones of anyone's economy. They're just nuts." I suspect he may have thought that but then something pleasant floated through his mind and he forgot it...until the next time he remembered it.

I always enjoy the scenes when Oliver & Uncle Joe meet and when Lisa & Kate meet. A Sitcom Summit! Uncle Joe and Kate really are from a whole different world. And, in fact, although Uncle Joe seems very comfortable here, Kate and her daughters always seemed a little wary. Kate and Oliver are always congenial. Kate and Lisa like each other but Lisa just tends to say things or do things that Kate looks at with confusion. It's probably Kate's nature. She's a good woman who likes to help people. But, with rare exceptions, Lisa doesn't really need anything. Oliver provides the basics. If Lisa can't cook, Kate will try to teach her but it really doesn't matter because Oliver will roll with it. (He may make fun of Lisa's farm wife skills but he doesn't do anything to really change them.) So, Kate is up against a rarity: Someone she can help all she wants but, in the end, it won't amount to a thing.

Uncle Joe's meeting with Oliver usually involve very little. He does flim-flam him once or twice but it's usually with something Oliver actually wants (fire chief, for example). It's tough to pull the wool over someone's eyes when 1) the person doesn't mind & 2) the person knows you're doing it. I guess, in the end, the supporting characters from PJ were the only ones who could get shifted into the world of GA. The two shows are very different. In style, in attitude and, well, almost everything. So odd that they're in the same "world". I wonder if, in 1965, people noticed any difference. It's sure obvious now.

Lisa' First Day On The Farm is a wonderful second episode that does exactly what The Beverly Hillbillies & PJ did. It extends the opening set-up across several episodes so we can ease in. It's quite lovely. The sort of thing that happens all the time now but sure didn't back them. It has the added advantage of some great jokes, including some wonderful sight gags with the house. The toilet flushing ("It's a shower!), the "what's behind the wallpaper" reveal and the kitchen door opening are my favorites. But, Oliver's drop into the basement (which we actually only go into once in the fifth season episode Trapped, where they seem to have forgotten about it) is wonderful, too. And, the joke gets a great capper later on. Oliver's optimism after dropping through the floor is darkened by Lisa's doing the same and taking that as the cue to leave.

The episode even has a moment of humanity (apart from Oliver and Lisa's increasingly frustrated responses) right at the end. ("Stop whining. She left me too.") Oliver and their little dog Mingon sit by the fire in their dark, dingy farmhouse. Lisa comes back, after a good talk with Kate. She has decided to stay and it's handled wonderfully. One more gag caps us and we're...out.

Oh, by the way, technically Lisa's first day on the farm is at the end of the first episode. After the opening credits here, we see Eb and Mr. Haney taking the bathtub. We learn that this is the Douglas's third day there. All Lisa can do is sit and stare at the house from the safety of the car. So, my question is, does this affect the pool? How can uncle Joe win with "1" day if it's their third day there?

One more thing: I'm slowly watching PJ. I'm halfway through Season One. Is there an episode in the start of Season Three where Oliver and Lisa are shown staying at the Shady Rest? I guess I'll find out soon.

Next episode: The first attempts to fix the house begin.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1.1: Oliver Buys A Farm

"In 1930, there were more than 32 million people living on farms.
In the 35 years that followed, more than 20 million people sold their farms & moved to the city.
To the best of my knowledge, in this same period of time, only one man got rid of his Park Avenue penthouse and bought a farm."

Oliver Wendell Douglas is that man. And, Green Acres is his story. It's the epic sitcom tale of a man with a strong, strong passion that takes precedence over all the obligations he is forced into throughout his life. A man who fulfills his dream, only to find that the dream he was led to expect isn't quite what exists in reality.

The title of the episode sums the episode up perfectly. Oliver has a successful law practice in NYC and lives in a lovely penthouse filled with furniture we will become very familiar with over the next six years. His best friend is his wife Lisa, a "socialite". At this point, there's no mention of Lisa's thick Hungarian accent even though she does let a few strange phrases and words slip through ("Hootersville?").

Oliver takes a business trip to Chicago. On the trip, he sneaks over to the town of Hooterville and buys "The Haney Place". A house, a barn and 160 acres of land that he can live on and farm to his heart's content. Lisa is unhappy with it but, after several tantrums, agrees to stay for six months. The episode ends with their arrival at "The Haney Place" and Lisa's first view of the crummy old house they'll live in from now on.

The episode is presented as a TV documentary hosted by What's My Line? presenter John Daly. The doc seems to be about why a city man would move to a farm in America in 1965. Although everyone, including Daly, thinks Oliver is nuts, I think the evidence to the contrary is just as convincing . In the first half, when the doc is going strong, we see an abbreviated version of Oliver's life. He was born in Saratoga Springs, NY. (I saw Eric Clapton in concert there back in 1994-ish.) He was born on a farm so he believes his roots are there. His dad forces him to be a lawyer. His Mom thinks he's nuts (pretty much about everything). Every aspect of his life tells him that being a rich lawyer is the way to go. If he became a farmer, he'd be letting everyone down. So, he becomes a lawyer and (contrary to what we see in Hooterville) a good one. But, there is something about farming...

Maybe it's a personal thing...But, I always sympathized with Oliver's plight. In The Beverly Hillbillies, Jed buys the biggest mansion on the block because that's what wealthy people do. He never seems comfortable there ; he'd clearly have been happier back home. But, that's what you do when you have that much money. It's not like Jed actually adapts. For god's sake, they don't know what a stove is! The world shapes around him and his kinfolk. And, as much as people may balk against the hillbilly influence in Beverly Hills, no one ever thinks Jed's a nut. GA is a reversal in more ways than one.

"Beverly Hillbillies in reverse" is the oft-quoted description for the show. It sure is, I suppose. We have the reason for Jed's move. But, Oliver's is a complete reversal. He became a lawyer because his dad was a big lawyer who went to Harvard and it was the right thing to do. He lived in the Penthouse because that was what you did. Unlike Jed, who leaves the land he loves behind, Oliver finally goes where he believes he needs to be after a life of doing what others want him to do. Yes, he does love the law but, as Daly says, He had two loves - Lisa and farming. Lawyering is, at least, a third. Oliver is following his dream. Why fault a man for that?

I'm pretty sure that another show must have done the "faux-documentary" thing before but I'm not thinking of it offhand. Daly sits at a desk in front of a rack of TVs that light up with varying images, including Oliver complaining about the city and Lisa saying she loves it. (As in the credits, Oliver crosses over from his side to hers.) It seems to me to be a pretty great way to introduce your show's premise, especially when you don't have to worry about a pilot. GA & Petrticoat Junction did not have pilots due to Paul Henning's success with BH. When you know most definitely that you will have a second and third episode, the first is yours to play with as you will. I like the route Jay Sommers has taken here. I fully believe that the show really takes off, comedy-wise, once Dick Chevillat joins up for the next episode. But, Jay has set down a nice foundation. After this episode, it is the division between what Oliver believes about the farmers as "the backbones of our economy" & the confused looks on the farmers' faces when he says things like that about them that fuels the show.

It isn't until halfway in that Oliver says that the farm is in Hooterville. When I originally watched the show, I knew little of TV history and had never seen Petticoat Junction so that meant nothing to me. When Oliver gets to Drucker's General Store and meets Sam, Uncle Joe, Floyd Smoot, Mr. Ziffel & Arnold for the first time, it isn't presented as our first meeting with them. We know these fellas. Seeing them play checkers and seeing Uncle Joe sass around is something we know and love. Oliver is the one being introduced to us. The rural folks are as confused as the city folks when they hear about Oliver's dream. Oliver makes his first big speech here. There are no fifes accompanying him. Just his passion for what he believes farmers are and how they prop up our society...and the men of Hooterville have no idea what the hell he's talking about.

A portent of things to come. Oliver can shrugs off the city's catcalls but the town of Hooterville will turn out to be truly odd. It is rural only by location.

The scene in Hooterville is quick. I can only imagine folks watching the show on its premiere. Did they know that Hooterville was involved? Paul Henning's name is in the credits but there is nothing indicating the setting. PJ is set on the outskirts of town at the hotel and train station. Did America perk up at hearing Hooterville? The Drucker Store scene is presented in the same way the Fonz would later appear in Laverne & Shirley. "Oliver must be OK because the people from Hooterville welcome him in." This episode premiered on 9/15/65. The night before this, the third season of PJ began. It would have been the first time America saw all of their friends at the Shady Rest in color. And now, they're back on the next night! The promise of more visits with the Bradleys and their friends waits in the wings.

The episode ends with the theme kicking in and the Douglas's car driving up to the old house we saw in the opening credits for the first time. Lisa's dread sinks in until she's crying in the same way she has been throughout, like a petulant child. The look on their faces as Lisa is trying to wish the house way shows it all. As Lisa breaks down, Oliver is staring through the house to the future and all the farming he's going to be doing. He's a man with a passion that is finally being fulfilled. You can see how he became so easily flustered as the series went on. And, from this point on, Oliver's fantasy of farming and farm life will slowly deteriorate although he keeps up the high spirits for some time. However, at this closing moment, he is in the pocket. The dream has come true and he takes it all in.

Things will go wrong in a few minutes.

I can't imagine how I forget the opening credits...Aren't they great? Excellent theme and great images. The credits set up the basics of the story that the faux-doc would climb into deeper. For all the times Oliver would become incredibly confused by life in Hooterville and no matter how much Lisa will become acclimated to it, the credits will remain the same. Oliver's optimism and Lisa's dislike of the farm remain the same at the beginning of every show. Possibly the theme could have changed as the focus of the show shifted but it's too iconic. They were right to leave it. And, by Season Two, it stands in bold contrast to what actually happens in the episodes themselves.

One more thing: Is the show funny? It didn't really occur to me to go over this. I mentioned it above but GA makes me laugh regularly and, when it doesn't, I'm usually very entertained. I guessed that anyone reading this would probably find GA funny like I do but I imagine there might be some who need convincing. And, frankly, I'm not the man to do that. But...is this episode funny?

Yes. Yes, it is. It has plenty of good one-liners and some funny wordplay. But, it is the next episode when things will officially take off into Yuktown, U.S.A. And, it will be later in the season before the perfect GA format will truly take us to That Goofy Place.

Oliver Buys A Farm is a lovely opening episode. It does feel rather different from the show as it would develop but it has enough of the future in it (especially the way the Hooterville residents are twisted just slightly from the way we know them in PJ) to get one excited about what is to come.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Hello, everyone.

If you want the full on history of the show, check out the Wikipedia page for Green Acres (or GA as we'll call it) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Acres. It's pretty solid.

I just wanted to say a few things before we get started with the individual reviews.

Something important that you need to remember here is:

1962 - The Beverly Hillbillies
1963- Petticoat Junction
1965 - Green Acres

All, more or less, part of the same world. The characters in Petticoat Junction lived on the edge of the town that the people of Green Acres lived in the center of. I always think of it this way...You're driving down a rural road, in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, you see a sign saying "You are Now Entering _____". Then, in quick succession, you see a gas station, a store, some buildings, some people and then you're in the wilderness again. We always used to say "Wow! That was some town. Four buildings, a phone booth and a dog." But, of course, the town is really off of this main road, where the people live. They're the town.

Kate, Uncle Joe and the gals (Hi, Betty Jo!) of Petticoat Junction live on this main road (or off the main train line). They run the Shady Rest Hotel. They rely on folks coming to stay at the hotel for as long as possible. So, a lot of Petticoat Junction is about people passing through, Encountering the pleasant folks on the outskirts of the farming community of Hooterville.

Green Acres is off the main road. It's set in the place where folks live. We see Sam Drucker and his general store often enough but rarely go to the Shady Rest. Why would we? I grew up in Rochester, NY. I remember very clearly being out with friends one night. We were in a parking lot. Two women walked up and said "Where do we get a cab?" We had no idea. They got kind of mad. But, really, why would we know? This is our town. We're not passing through. The Shady Rest is where you pass through. The farms are where you live.

The Beverly Hillbillies connection is far briefer and much stranger. Oliver Douglas and his wife Lisa appeared on a few episodes of BH when the Clampetts came to Hooterville. Simple as that...except for the episode of GA called "The Beverly Hillbillies". In that episode, they perform a scene from the hit TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies". And, on more than one occasion, people on Green Acres mention watching BH. So, at some point, Oliver & Lisa and Eb & everyone go from enjoying the wacky adventures of these hillbillies to having Thanksgiving Dinner with them. How or why? On GA, no reason is necessary.

Once you finagle all the shows into the same world, GA sticks out quite alarmingly. BH is satire. It's watching backwoods folks adjusting (or not) to city life. PJ is about country folk and their lazy living. GA is about a city couple and the strange town inhabitants who would fit quite well into Twin Peaks. It's this slight madness running through the show that I love about it.

Of course, it you look at the 1965 Season...Two of the other big shows were Get Smart! and (mid-season) Batman. That was a heck of a season. Over the past two years, I've watched all three of those shows in order, from beginning to end. All three are great. GA is the best. Sorry. Batman is a hell of a lot of fun. But, as there is absolutely no character development, everything relies upon the endless comic book variations on a theme. For the first two seasons, they kick ass. Season Three they lose it. It seems to be correcting itself by the end but much of that last season is kind of tedious. Get Smart! is wonderful but has a similar problem. Every episode in the first three seasons (except multiple part stories) is self-contained and wacky and fun but there's never much impetus to see what's going to happen next. I could go ages in between episodes. Once Season Four hits, Max & 99 get engaged and you actually care about them. That's when Get Smart! is at its absolute best.

GA gets pretty nutty. There are long stretches of self-contained episodes but much of the first season is a continuous series of episodes as Oliver slowly puts together the farm and the house. By time it reverts to standard sitcom plotting, we like the characters. We want to see what they're going to do next, especially Oliver & Lisa. That is the best part of the show, there. Oliver & Lisa love each other and are best friends. The chemistry between Eddie Albert & Eva Gabor is wonderful. They're playful, charming and love to tease one another. When they get mad at each other, it's uncomfortable for everyone. They need to resolve it quick. Several episodes end with them going into the bedroom & leaving us in the living room as they close the door. We see the house for a brief moment...and the bedroom light goes out. C'mon! What other couples on TV in 1965 were like that? This stuff is wonderful. As nutty as the situations get, their relationship keeps us tuned in and interested.

The first couple on American TV to sleep in the same bed were Herman & Lily Munster. They were, of course, dead. The first living couple who shared the same bed were Oliver & Lisa. 'Nuff said.

As the episode guide progresses, we'll meet the characters so I won't go in-depth here. The first few episode reviews might be a bit more serious than the ones that follow. But, I'm setting everything up so just hold on a bit, please. I want this blog to have a fun feel to it. I want to move through the 6 seasons and 170 episodes and learn about Oliver & Lisa and the Poople of Heeterville. They're nice. They deserve the visit.

C'mon, let's go down to the Valley.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Welcome to the Green Acres Reviews

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the blog devoted to an episode-by-episode review of the 1965-1971 sitcom Green Acres. In this fella's opinion, one of the best American television shows...ever. I said it, I'll say it again under the threat of a swift kick to the slats.

I will be proceeding methodically through all 170 episodes of the show. The next post you see will review the first episode and will be up shortly. I intend to analyze each episode in detail, not just "Funny episode. Eb is great in this one." We'll go a little more in-depth.

I hope you enjoy the trip. Let's go to Hooterville.