Saturday, July 24, 2010

1.19: Sprained Ankle, Country Style

"You don't like my cooking!"
"No, I love your cooking. It's the eating that..."

This week's movie: Mary Poppins Meets Frankenstein...starring Dame Mae Fishman

From the title of the episode and from any write-ups you may have seen, this episode would seem to promise a wacky series of gags with Oliver in bed, sprained ankle keeping him there, and the townsfolk bothering him. But, that's the last act. First off: The bedroom is finished! Hooray!

The Monroe brothers put a ribbon in front of the door. Ralph blows her bugle. And, the bedroom looks kind of strange and it never, ever looks better...The first of the closet door jokes is here. For some reason, the bedroom being in place moves the show closer to The Spot. I know I keep saying that but GA didn't become masterful all at once...bits fell into place gradually. But, I mean every word I say and the bits are falling closer and closer.

"Oliver, you didn't let Ralph blow her bugle."
"I don't care if she blows her brains out."

Oliver gets really mad because the bedroom, frankly, isn't finished. And, divine retribution hits him as he falls through the roof...He is laid up in bed and tries to watch the movie mentioned above. But, everyone, including Bobbie Jo, join him and eat all his food and hurt his ankle and, in the end, he hides in the barn.

Classic sitcom stuff, which is all a little bit funnier than the regular sitcom's approach. Lisa has really begun to take off on the goofiness. "Hunky Dinky" "A hypocondriac needle" She has become one of the Hooterville folks, although she clearly wants to head back to NYC.

When the townsfolk begin to flood into the bedroom, Oliver may be going through Hell but it's funny. Lisa bring Oliver a tray with a flower and nothing else. No food. Everyone brings food and then they scarf it down themselves as Oliver tried to grab stuff from them...and the banter around all of this is very good. I'm watching it now and it works out like this:

Act 1: Unveiling the Bedroom
Act 2: Spraining the Ankle
Act 3: The Visitors

It almost feels like The Simpsons. The way you can't figure out what the heck is going to happen in the first act. But then it feels like nothing but GA when everyone thinks the test pattern on the TV is Ed Sullivan. Bobbie Jo is very cute and she looks normal when she enters the bedroom but she becomes nutty, too. I wonder what the PJ folks really thought about getting this close to their strange neighbors.

This is a great episode. Full of laughs. The show is in its niche and carving away. It's not particularly Green Acres-strange but it's proving that it's genuinely funny before it veers off the road. And, as a kid, I really wanted to see Mary Poppins Meets Frankenstein.

Monday, July 12, 2010

1.18: Lisa Bakes A Cake

"You want us to build you a lawyer stand?"
"What's that?"
"It's like a fruit stand but you sell law."

The show is inching forward. Lisa is in the Sweet Spot this episode. Oliver is stuck in a bit of Average Sitcom antics. But, even then, Jay & Dick raise it up.

Two plots:
1) Oliver is listed (thanks to Lisa) as Attorney-At-Law in the new Hooterville Phone Book. Now, he believes, everyone will be calling him and he'll never get any farming done.
2) Lisa bakes a cake.

Oliver does a lot of "Is that the phone?" shtick as he waits for people to call. He doesn't want them to call but he does and he goes a little too sitcomy here-and-there for my tastes. But, this is leavened with some very funny Alf & Ralph stuff (lawyer stands) and Mr. Kimball's appearance. He seems almost too rambling in this episode but he gets a funny bit where Newt Kiley calls for him at the Douglas place...and it seems like Hank is doing legal work.

Oh, Hank.

If Oliver gets a standard plot, Lisa gets her first real chance to shine and be nutty. Every time we cut to her, she is in the kitchen making what might be the world's worst cake. How she can get it so consistently and gloriously wrong I don't know? But, the writers thought so much of this subplot that they named the episode after it.

Another slight step back...Floyd Smoot reading the phone book. He doesn't understand Directory Style Listings and it's as eye-rolling as you might expect. So, maybe I was wrong last time: They haven't completely absorbed Petticoat Junction. Maybe they never will.

They take two standard sitcom plots and put just enough of the Green Acres-twist into them to bring joy. I've said it a lot but...with each episode, we are closer and closer to the Pure GA...the Classic stuff. Going one by one, it really is fun to see it shift and change.

And, I do love the way everyone crams themselves through the bedroom door because it's right up against the bed...when three walls are missing and you can just walk in there. Great stuff.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

1.17: I Didn't Raise My Husband To Be A Fireman

"Isn't that ridiculous?! Wouldn't let me ride to the fire with them!"
"You don't belong to the fire department."
"They would have let you ride with them."
"I'm sexier than you are."
"...that's not the point!"

And so, the shift begins.

The Monroe brothers go nutty.
The Volunteer Fire Department is made up of crazy people.
Oliver is now in a land of madness, rather than a land of rural people that he doesn't understand.

But, Lisa is not there yet. The quote up top is from her. The Pure "Green Acres" Lisa would never have said that. The early Lisa is not quite there yet.

"You insulted my hotcakes."
" I didn't mean too."
"You don't like them!"
"Yes, I do."
"How many do you want for breakfast?"
"Why 3?"
"To prove that you like them."
"Couldn't I just eat one and applaud?"

And...the show begins to go from being a well-written, charming 60's sitcom into the glorious surreal insanity that would make the show so joyous. And yes, Lisa tries oatmeal instead of hotcakes. It doesn't work. She makes "fried oatmeal". Eb loves it.

Oh, and everyone keeps asking if Oliver is hungover.

Lisa still seems bemused by everything. That keeps in the way of it. She needs to take that step. She needs to become a true Citizen of Hooterville. Until then, she giggles and has a good time.

So, Oliver joins the Volunteer Fire Department. And, he has a scene where he has to st and watch for the "Fire Rocket" to go off. And, it's such a charming, human scene that it endears one to the show that much more.

This is a show firing on all barrels. unlike shows like The Munsters and F Troop, which never really take off, Green Acres has used its first batch of episodes to warm it's kicking ass. And, Ralph and Alf are sawing pickles in half with saws and rockets are going off and the band is playing...If you've watched the show from the beginning, it's astounding. The show can do no wrong.

Jay & Dick have taken a bit of time to get into place. Now, they're almost there and we will not go wrong for some time.

Petticoat Junction is now fully absorbed. Uncle Joe and Sam's scene reading the article about the latest fire is lovely. It's sharper that Petticoat Junction and's good. "Guess who wants to join the volunteer Fire Department?" Oliver does.

So many shows of this time never developed. Green Acres now has begun its big shift. It will become superb now...."What instrument do you play?" How do you get in the Volunteer fire Department? You play an instrument in the marching band. Oliver plays guitar. He gets in.

But, it is the charm of the scene where Lisa tries to seduce Oliver away from the Sky Watch Duty that makes the show human. (Actually, it's two scenes. But, I always make it into one in my mind.) If it didn't have that element, it wouldn't be worth more than a few laughs. "No, it was a shoosting star."

And, yes, Oliver gives a speech and the fife plays...and no one mentions it yet but it has begun.

"A little more arpeggio, Ralph!"

Oh, watching the Department march around the Shady Rest is very, very funny.

Now, we're cooking with "A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight."

"If a man ever needed nuzzling, he needs it now."

An Apology

I apologize for the large gap in between posts. When I started the site, I was actually halfway through Season Three. I decided to doubleback and I was confusing myself. Well, I finished watching the show all the way through a few weeks ago. Now, I am back up to where I need to be...the reviews will continue again.

Fuzzy dice...bongos in the back.