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Green Acres is an American television series starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York Citymarker to a country farm. Produced by Filmways, Inc., as a sister show to Petticoat Junction, the series was broadcast on CBS from September 15, 1965, to April 27, 1971.

Background

With the success of The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, CBS offered producer Paul Henning another half-hour on the schedule — unusually with no pilot required. Lacking the time, he encouraged colleague Jay Sommers to create the series. Sommers used his 1950 radio series, Granby's Green Acres, as the basis for the new series. The 13-episode radio series had starred Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet (who also appeared in the TV version) as a big-city family who move to the country.

In pre-production, proposed titles were Country Cousins and The Eddie Albert Show. Green Acres was about Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), an accomplished and erudite New York City attorney, acting on his dream to be a farmer, and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor), his glamorous, bejeweled Hungarian wife, dragged unwillingly from the privileged city life she adored to a ramshackle farm. The debut episode was a mock documentary about this big-city attorney's decision to move to a rural area, narrated by CBS newscaster (and host of the game show What's My Line) John Charles Daly. A few weeks after the show's debut, Albert and Gabor returned the favor by appearing on What's My Line as that episode's Mystery Guests, and publicly thanked Daly for helping to launch their series.

After the first episodes the series shifted from a run-of-the-mill rural comedy, developing an absurdist world. Though there were still many episodes that were standard 1960s sitcom fare, the show became notable for its surreal aspects that frequently included satire. They had an appeal to children for the slapstick, silliness, and shtick, though adults were able to appreciate it on a different level.

It was set in the same universe as Henning's other rural television comedy Petticoat Junction, featuring such picturesque towns as Hooterville (mispronounced "Hootersville" by Lisa), Pixley, Crabwell Corners, and Stankwell Falls. As a spin-off, it at times shared some of the same characters. Sometimes Petticoat Junction folks, such as Joe Carson, Newt Kiley, and Floyd Smoot, are seen in "cross-over" episodes and vice versa. While Petticoat Junction frequently had crossover storylines with Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres treated Beverly Hillbillies as a fictional TV show – one episode had the Hooterville Community Theater recreate an episode of the series as a play, and references were made to star Buddy Ebsen and producer and creator Henning. In the Beverly Hillbillies episode "The Thanksgiving Spirit", members of the three programs share a Thanksgiving meal with the Clampetts as they visit Hooterville.

Much of the humor of the series derived from the pragmatic yet short-fused Oliver attempting to make sense of the largely insane world around him. There seemed to be a dual perspective of reality: Oliver versus everyone else. The latter envelops the Hootervillians - and inexplicably Oliver's affluent mother (Eleanor Audley). Mother Douglas lampoons Oliver and mollifies Lisa. There were times when it appeared that Oliver himself lost his bearings, such as when he rented a rooster or climbed a telephone pole to make a call.

The dishonest, oily salesman Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram), who sold Oliver the Green Acres farm, continues to con his easy "mark" in most episodes. Haney, along with young, glib farmhand Eb Dawson (Tom Lester), scatterbrained county agent Hank Kimball (Alvy Moore), and grocer Sam Drucker (Frank Cady), make up the main supporting cast. Eb habitually addressed the Douglases as "Dad" and "Mom", to Oliver's irritation.

General store owner Drucker was a regular on both series, and the first few notes of the Petticoat Junction theme song can usually be heard during the establishing shot of his store. Petticoat Junction regular Betty-Jo Bradley appears in one episode in a short-lived romance with Eb Dawson. Bobbi-Jo appears in the same episode. Kate Bradley appeared in a few of the early episodes trying to help Lisa adapt to country living, most notably giving Lisa the recipe for her infamous "hotscakes". Western film actor Smiley Burnette guested several times as railway engineer Charley Pratt during the 1965 and 1966 seasons, but Burnette's ill health ended the role.([62409]

While Drucker is a provincial everyman in Petticoat Junction, his character is bent a bit here (keeping plastic pickles in a barrel to appease "city folk"). Drucker also serves as a newspaper editor and printer; volunteer fireman; constable; justice of the peace; and postmaster. As editor of the Hooterville World Guardian, his headlines were often decades-old. He was slow as postmaster, once delivering a lost 1917 "draft" notice to Fred Ziffel after 51 years, breaking his previous record of delivering a lost 1942 WPA letter to Haney for stealing a shovel, after 26 years. As justice of the peace, he once let his license lapse, unwittingly sending two supporting characters to a premature honeymoon (Ralph Monroe and Hank Kimball). Drucker often is the only townsperson to understand concepts that Oliver Douglas talks about, acting as a go-between, explaining the "city folk" concepts to the townspeople and the motivations and behavior of the Hooterville townspeople to Douglas.

In a slap to government bureaucrats and civil service employees, Alvy Moore plays spacey agricultural agent Kimball who loses his train of thought from one sentence to the next, drawing people into inane conversations, where they have to explain to him what he is saying.

The Douglases' childless elderly neighbors, Fred and Doris Ziffel, "adopted" a pig named Arnold Ziffel as their "son". Arnold understands English, lives indoors, and is pampered. Arnold is an avid TV watcher and a Western fan. Only Oliver seems cognizant that Arnold is just livestock, although he frequently slips and begins treating him as a boy. Arnold makes regular appearances throughout the series, often visiting the Douglas farm to watch their TV.

A pair of recurring characters were two quarrelsome carpenter the Monroe Brothers, Alf and Ralph. Despite Ralph's name and status as a brother, Ralph, played by Mary Grace Canfield, was a woman. Alf was played by Sid Melton. Mainly Oliver seems to notice this bizarre contradiction. The brothers rarely finished projects (such as the Douglases' bedroom), and those they did were disasters. An occasional subplot involved Ralph's attempts to win the affections of Mr. Kimball, or some other hapless Hooterville bachelor.

Lisa's domestic ignorance provides fertile ground for recurring gags – her "coffee" oozes from the pot in a thick, tarlike sludge; her "hotscakes" are inedible, and so tough that Oliver repaired his truck's head-gasket with them. In one episode, hotcake batter is used for fireplace mortar; in another, hotcakes are used to reshingle a roof. Her sandwiches include such epicurean combo delights as liverwurst and jelly. Instead of washing dishes, Lisa sometimes tosses them out the kitchen window. In the episode "Alf and Ralph Break Up", Lisa admits that she has no cooking abilities and says her only talent is her Zsa Zsa Gabor imitation.

Gags used through the series:
  • Lisa mangles English words because of a Hungarian accent (or as her sly joke – it is not always clear which).
  • A fife and drum of the traditional patriotic American song "Yankee Doodle" plays while Oliver makes a long-winded speech; everyone but Oliver hears it. Sometimes they try to find the source of the music.
  • Oliver and Lisa wear metropolitan clothes unsuited for farm life: Oliver a three-piece suit, even while working, and Lisa jewelry, heels, and expensive dresses.
  • Using expensive furniture and a Lincoln Continental four-door convertible, despite the house never being fixed up.
  • Oliver's and Lisa's stories each one another — where fact cannot be distinguished from joke.
  • Mr. Haney showing up at inopportune moments, attempting to sell Oliver just what he needs at that moment (according to Haney, of course). Despite Oliver's protests and the obvious worthlessness of the items, Haney often succeeds.
  • Characters breaking the fourth wall by seeing and reacting to words in the opening credits.
  • Never having a working phone in the house, but having to climb a pole outside to use one.
  • A Hoyt-Clagwell farm tractor that rarely works and whose wheels regularly fall off.
  • A "sliding door" to the Douglas backless bedroom closet which always falls down.
  • Arnold being able to do things (off camera) like knock on doors, sign his name, and turn on/turn off television sets, leaving an amazed Oliver to say "How did he....?".


Although still popular, the show was canceled in 1971 as part of the "rural purge" when CBS decided to shift its schedule to more urban, contemporary-themed shows, which drew the younger audiences desired by advertisers. (Nearly the entire Green Acres cast was middle-aged or older.) (The Beverly Hillbillies and other shows with rural settings, including Hee Haw and Mayberry R.F.D., were also dropped). Said Pat Buttram of the purge: "CBS canceled everything with a tree — including Lassie ". Since its cancellation, Green Acres has been shown in reruns, in syndication, on TBS, and on TV Land.

An urban legend says that Arnold the pig was cooked and eaten by the cast after the show ended. In reality, several different pigs were used during the show's run, none of which was eaten by the cast. Trainer Frank Inn used a smaller, female pig in later seasons, with visible mammaries. The pig actors were dissimilar in more ways than one (as with the two actresses who played Doris) — for example, one Arnold had tufts of grey hair behind his ears, giving him an aged look. Yet another Arnold has spots that others lack. This may have been an intentional goof by producers for comedic effect. Other sources point out that Arnold was actually played by a piglet, and because piglets grow quickly on the way to becoming adult pigs, many different piglets had to be used in the role of Arnold during the show's production run.

In the 1990 reunion TV movie Return to Green Acres, a twenty-something Arnold survived his "parents", and subsequently bunks with his "cousin", the Ziffels' comely niece (in reality a pig life span averages 12–15 years, similar to a dog). The film was made and set two decades after the series, and the Monroe Brothers still have not finished the Douglas' bedroom. In the movie, Oliver and Lisa had moved back to New York, but are miserable there; they are implored by the Hootervillians to return and save the town from a scheme to destroy it, which has been cooked up between Haney and a wealthy, underhanded developer (Henry Gibson). With a nod to the times, Haney's latest product is a Russianmarker miracle fertilizer called "Gorby Grow".

The Hooterville Handbook: A Viewer's Guide To Green Acres (ISBN 0-312-08811-6) has detailed show information. Seasons 1–3 of the show are released for Region 0 (suitable for all DVD players) through MGM Home Entertainment (whose sister company, MGM Television, now owns the rights to the show through its acquisition of Orion Television, successor-in-interest to Filmways).

The theme tune, as with those of the show's rural cousins, explains the basic premise of the show. Eddie Albert sings all of his lyrics. Eva Gabor recites most of her part. At the end of the opening sequence, Albert and Gabor strike a pose which is a parody of the painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood.

Cast



In addition, there were crossovers from Petticoat Junction cast members, most frequently:



Surreal humor

The series was notable for its often surreal humor, which sometimes involved transgressing the traditional diegetic or fourth wall 'borders' of TV presentation for deliberately humorous effect – characters addressed the audience directly and were somehow able to perceive and react to post-production elements such as the music soundtrack and the superimposed program credits.

Some of the more noteworthy surreal aspects of the show's humor included:

  • The episode titled "A Square is Not Round" featured both a chicken that lays square eggs, which Oliver is desperate to find, and a toaster that only works when you say "five" to it. In the end it is revealed that it has all been a dream of Oliver's, and he rushes back to bed to see how it finishes. At the very end, Lisa is muttering to herself, "Hmph, square eggs, talking to toasters..." and approaches the refrigerator and says clearly, "Mabel!" and the fridge opens by itself. In other episodes, Lisa is also evidently able to coax the chickens into laying on demand, simply by talking to them.


  • Oliver has always dreamed of becoming a farmer, but he lives in complete denial of the fact that he is virtually incapable of growing anything. Lisa, who always longs to go back to New York, actually adjusts quite well and seems quite at home in Hooterville. Despite Lisa's blatantly urban, sophisticated socialite manner, the local people like her, yet find Oliver weird and make constant references to his supposed "drinking problem".


  • Lisa claimed in one episode to be from New Jerseymarker but went to boarding school in Hungarymarker, thereby explaining both her accent and her lack of ability to speak Hungarian. In another episode, she claims her mother sent her to "Hungarian accent school". However, in some episodes, she is seen to converse with other Hungarians in fluent Hungarian. She also has a wide variety of stories involving how her father became the King of Hungary.


  • The comic-book style sound effects are faintly visible to the characters. For example, in the episode "Double Drick" (season 1), when the generator sparks and sputters, the word "Drick!" appears on the screen, like in the fight scenes in Batman. Lisa then asks Oliver what the word "Drick" means.


Trivia

  • Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor are the only two actors to appear in every episode of the series. Tom Lester appeared in the second highest number of episodes, and can be seen in 148 of the 170 episodes. During the first half of the 1967-68 season, Lester missed a handful of episodes because he had mononucleosis.
  • Episode 76 of Petticoat Junction has the couple turn up at the Shady Rest Hotel and spend the night there before going on to their new house.
  • While the series began with an episode explaining how Oliver and Lisa came to live on Green Acres, the series finale served as a pilot for an unsuccessful TV series. Oliver contacts an old law secretary, Carol Rush (played by Elaine Joyce), who is now living with her sister and brother-in-law in Los Angeles and working as a secretary for Mr. Oglethorpe (played by Richard Deacon). The bulk of the episode takes place with this new set of characters. Besides Oliver and Lisa, no other Green Acres characters appeared on the series finale, they are not even seen in the third act of the show. The next-to-last episode, "Hawaiian Honeymoon," was also a pilot for another series that did not sell.
  • The minor underground 'hit' song "Green Haze" by the psychobilly band Elvis Hitler from Detroitmarker, Michiganmarker consisted of the lyrics from the theme song of Green Acres sung to the tune of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze."
  • Novelty musicians Barnes & Barnes and Damaskas collaborated on a song titled "A Day in the Life of Green Acres" in 1979, which set the lyrics of the Green Acres theme song to the tune of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life."
  • At the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2005, during a special Emmy Idol "competition" (in which famed TV stars performed the themes to popular TV shows), Donald Trump (dressed as an Oliver-type hillbilly) and Megan Mullally (dressed as a Lisa-type socialite) performed the theme to Green Acres, and clips from the series were shown on a screen behind them as they did. When the home viewers' votes were counted, the victory went to Trump (changed back into his normal business attire) and Mullally.


Episode list

Revivals

The surviving members of the cast were reunited for a TV movie titled Return to Green Acres. It aired on CBS on May 18, 1990.

On November 19, 2007, original series director Richard L. Bare announced that he is working on a revival of Green Acres.

DVD releases

MGM Home Entertainment released the first three seasons of Green Acres on Region 1 DVD. No release of the remaining three seasons is announced.

DVD Name Episodes Release Date
Season 1 32 January 13, 2004
Season 2 30 March 8, 2005
Season 3 30 December 6, 2005


The Granby's Green Acres radio show

The Granby's Green Acres radio show was produced, directed and written by Jay Sommers, who wrote and produced a third of the Green Acres episodes. In both, a businessman knowing little about farming moves to an impoverished farm. The characters are more conventionally odd, the wife stereotypically talkative and dim, the "Sam Drucker" character senile, the hired hand stoic about the incompetent management. Some humor is reminiscent of Green Acres:

Wife: "Sell the cow."

Husband: "Well, I'm...kill the sow!? I mean sell the cow!?"

Daughter: "That's a good idea, Dad!"

Husband: "I'll do no such thing! Why selling that cow would be like selling your mother!"

Wife: "What!"

Husband: "Well, that is...well, what I meant, Martha, is that old cow means as much to me as you do."


Green Acres on the Nielson Ratings

  • Season 1 1965-1966= #11
  • Season 2 1966-1967= #6
  • Season 3 1967-1968= #16
  • Season 4 1968-1969= #19
  • Season 5 1969-1970= #TBA NOT IN TOP 20
  • Season 6 1970-1971= #TBA NOT IN TOP 20


See also



References



External links




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