Friday, August 6, 2010

1.20: The Price of Apples

Well, I finished watching this episode and realized that I've been misleading myself and everyone reading and enjoying this blog. I keep saying that by this point in the show it is (pretty much) the crazy, strange show we all know and love.

It isn't. Not yet. But, it's still something very rare in the pantheon of odd 60's sitcoms.

A little plot...

The apples are ready to go to market. Oliver's first crop...although, technically, they were all on the land they purchased a few episodes ago. Oliver has the local kids pick them all. He buys Mr. Ziffel's crop and Newt Kiley's and, possibly, Ben Miller's. He gets on a truck with Lisa and they drive to the State Capital to sell the bushels and bushels of apples. But, of course, it doesn't go quite right.

And, of course, the plot synopsis doesn't go quite right either. The show has the same meander along that the past episodes have had. Oliver walks right into the kitchen with an apple in the first few minutes so that is the sort of "plot theme" of the episode. Lisa is cooking hotcakes in a very odd manner that, satisfyingly, saves the day. Mr. Douglas has a chat with Mr. Kimball, goes to Drucker's store, almost gets flim-flammed by Haney (although that sequence does seem a trifle rote) and drives along with Lisa. Even when the apple prices are dropping, there's no real urgency. And, in the end, Lisa helps fix the truck and they are on their way to the State Capital...and the episode ends. Just a charming series of adventures for our pals.

Charming and funny...There's the thing.

Green Acres is funny. While most shows of this era (stand up Munsters and Bewitched!) were charming and fun to watch, they were rarely, if ever, funny. They relied on their characters strangeness and the weird situations. But, Green Acres is put together by two funny men with a strong director and a funny cast. All this meandering is fine because it is funny. The point of the episode is not the race to get the apples to's the goofball things that happen en route.

The show is in no way "surreal" or crazy...Yes, the characters are beginning to make jokes about each other (Lisa talking like Mr. Kimball, Mr. Ziffel asking if Mr. Douglas is going to make one of his speeches) but it's all in the standard sitcom framework. The true crazy twist hasn't happened yet. What has happened is that it's gone from being a fun sitcom to being a funny sitcom...and that will make all the difference when the change comes.

Knowing how the show goes so strange, these early episodes are a heck of a lot of fun. Like early albums by The Beach Boys or The Rolling Stones before they really got their music under control and made the brilliant stuff...Ah, GA...