Green Acres

Green Acres

Infobox Television
show_name =Green Acres


caption =Aerial photo featured in the opening sequence
format =Sitcom
runtime =Excluding credits, about 23 minutes per episode
creator =Jay Sommers
executive_producer =Paul Henning
starring =Eddie Albert
Eva Gabor
Pat Buttram
Tom Lester
Frank Cady
Alvy Moore
country =USA
network =CBS
first_aired =September 15, 1965
last_aired =April 27, 1971
num_seasons = 6
num_episodes =170

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

Background

After the success of "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction", CBS offered producer Paul Henning another half-hour on the schedule with no pilot required. Lacking the time to commit to another project himself, 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 television 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.

The television series "Green Acres" was about Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), an accomplished and erudite New York attorney who was acting on his lifelong dream to be a farmer, and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor), his glamorously bejeweled Hungarian wife, dragged unwillingly from the privileged city life she adored to a bucolic life on 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 John Charles Daly.

Ostensibly a reverse "Beverly Hillbillies", after the first few episodes the series shifted from a run-of-the-mill rural comedy and developed an absurdist world of its own. 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 also had an appeal to children for the slapstick, silliness and schtick, 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 (miscalled "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.

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 Lisa and Oliver's affluent mother (Eleanor Audley). Mother Douglas lampoons Oliver and mollifies Lisa. There were, however, times when it appeared that Oliver was not entirely sane either, such as when he rented a rooster.

The dishonest and 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", much to Oliver's irritation.

Sam Drucker was a regular on both series. "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. Popular western film actor Smiley Burnette guested several times in the role of railway engineer Charley Pratt during the 1965 and 1966 seasons but Burnette's ill health ended the role.( [http://www.maggiore.net/greenacres/garadio.asp]

While general store owner Sam Drucker is a reliable Dutch uncle 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 printer/editor; volunteer fireman; constable; justice of the peace and a postmaster. As editor of the "Hooterville World Guardian", his headlines were often decades-old. He was a bit 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 Mr 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).

In a slap to government bureaucrats and civil service employees, Alvy Moore plays spacey agricultural agent Hank Kimball, who never really seems to know which end is up. Kimball would draw people into inane conversations, then lose his train of thought.

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 by everyone. Like all 1960s children, Arnold is an avid TV watcher and a big 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 carpenters known as the Monroe Brothers, Alf and Ralph. Despite her name and her status as one of the brothers, Ralph was in fact a woman, played by Mary Grace Canfield. Alf was played by Sid Melton of "Make Room for Daddy". In general, only Oliver seems to notice or care about this bizarre contradiction. Nothing the Monroe brothers ever did was either finished (such as the Douglases' bedroom) or ever turned out right. 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. 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 include:
*Lisa's mangling of English words because of a Hungarian accent (or as her sly joke – it is not always clear which).
*A fife solo of the traditional American song "Yankee Doodle" playing while Oliver makes a long-winded speech; everyone but him hearing it, and sometimes trying to find the source.
*Oliver and Lisa usually wearing metropolitan clothes unsuited for farm life: Oliver a three-piece suit, even while working, and Lisa jewelry, heels, and expensive dresses.
*Expensive furniture and a fancy Lincoln Continental four-door convertible, despite the house never being fixed up.
*Oliver and Lisa relating stories about one another where the facts cannot always be distinguished from jokes.
*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.

Although still reasonably 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.)

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 ever eaten by the cast. Trainer Frank Inn used a smaller, female pig in later seasons, giving Arnold some obvious mammary ducts. 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.)

Arnold, it is revealed in the 1990 reunion TV movie "Return to Green Acres", survived his "parents", and subsequently bunks with his "cousin", the Ziffels' comely niece. The film was made and set two decades after the series (as Haney's latest product is a Russian miracle fertilizer called "Gorby Grow")...but in reality a pig life span averages 12–15 years, similar to a dog. In the reunion movie, Oliver and Lisa had moved back to New York but are miserable there and 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, dishonest developer (Henry Gibson).

"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 this show's rural cousins, explains the basic premise of the show. Eddie Albert sings all of his part of the lyrics. Eva Gabor recites most of her part.

Cast

*Oliver Wendell Douglas: Eddie Albert
*Lisa Douglas: Eva Gabor
*Mr. [Eustace] Haney: Pat Buttram
*Eb Dawson: Tom Lester
*Fred Ziffel: Hank Patterson
*Doris Ziffel: Barbara Pepper (1965–69, left the series owing to ill health)
*Doris Ziffel: Fran Ryan (1969–71)
*Hank Kimball: Alvy Moore
*Sam Drucker: Frank Cady (also a cast member on "Petticoat Junction" and guest-starred on "Beverly Hillbillies")
*Mother Eunice Douglas: Eleanor Audley (1965–69)
*Alf Monroe: Sid Melton (1965–69)
*Ralph Monroe: Mary Grace Canfield
*Newt Kiley: Kay E. Kuter (1965–70)
*Ben Miller: Tom Fadden (1965)
*Roy Trendell: Robert Foulk (1966–68)

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

*Kate Bradley: Bea Benaderet (1965–66)
*Uncle Joe Carson: Edgar Buchanan (1965–69)
*Charley Pratt: Smiley Burnette (1965–67)
*Floyd Smoot: Rufe Davis (1965–67)

urreal humor

The series was notable for its often surreal humor, and it was one of the first American TV series which transgressed 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 humour 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 Jersey but went to boarding school in Hungary, 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, having to appear in 148 of the 170 episodes.
*With the death of Eddie Albert on May 26, 2005, Tom Lester, Frank Cady, and Mary Grace Canfield are the only surviving stars of "Green Acres".
*While the series began with an episode explaining how Oliver and Lisa came to live on Green Acres, the series finale was anticlimatic, actually serving 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, and even they are not 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.
*"Green Acres" was mentioned on a show of "Designing Women" by Suzanne Sugarbaker. She mentioned she could be watching "Green Acres" instead of waiting for the team's customer.
*"Green Acres" is a favorite program of WNYX station manager Dave Nelson on "News Radio". Whilst trying to convince girlfriend Lisa to purchase her first television, Dave extols the genius of Arnold Ziffel.
*The minor underground 'hit' song "Green Haze" by the psychobilly band Elvis Hitler from Detroit, Michigan. It consisted of the lyrics from the theme song of "Green Acres" sung to the tune of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze."
*An episode of "Pinky and the Brain", titled "Brain Acres", revolved around the mice moving to the country as part of Brain's plan in that episode (to make henchmen out of vegetables). At one point, the mice sing a parody of the "Green Acres" theme song.
*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.
*During the invention exchange portion of the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" episode, "Eegah", Joel and his robots invented their own perception of the instrument used for incidental music in "Green Acres" as well as the other two members of the Paul Henning/Hooterville trilogy, "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction", that sounded like a low grunting pig: a low-pitched musical instrument made from a large plush pig called a "porkerina". Joel then plays some music on it as the robots do a small bit from "Green Acres", with Tom Servo imitating Pat Buttram as Mr. Haney and Crow imitating Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendell Douglas.

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." [ [http://www.tvseriesfinale.com/2007/11/emgreen_acres_original_series_director_wants_to_co.php Green Acres: Original Series Director Wants to Continue Classic Sitcom] , "TV Series Finale", November 19, 2007]

DVD releases

MGM Home Entertainment released the first three seasons of "Green Acres" on Region 1 DVD.It is currently unknown when the remaining three seasons will be released.

pecial broadcasts

On Wedensday, April 30th, for the celebration of the premiere of The CW's reality series Farmer Wants a Wife (U.S. TV series) WPIX (New-York City's CW Affiliate) is showing the first four episodes of Green Acres, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, replacing the original The CW Daytime schedule.

Reruns

Reruns of "Green Acres" have aired in the past in syndication and on Nick at Nite. Since April 2004, TV Land has aired episodes. Also from 2006 to 2007, ION Television had been airing episodes on weekday evenings.

Cable networks

TV Land, currently Mon-Fri at 1pm ET, and weekends at 8:00am ET.

Local stations

WWME in Chicago, currently Mon-Fri at 3:30pm CT.

Canada

DejaView, currently Mon-Fri at 11:30am ET.

Comparison with 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."

References

*cite book|author= Cox, Stephen|year=1993|title=The Hooterville Handbook : A Viewer's Guide To Green Acres|publisher=St. Martin's Griffin|id=ISBN 0-312-08811-6

External links

*imdb title|id=0058808|title=Green Acres
*Tv.com show|id=783|title=Green Acres
* [http://www.maggiore.net/greenacres/ "Green Acres" Home Page]
* [http://www.tvland.com/shows/greenacres/ "Green Acres" on TV Land]
* [http://www.ionline.tv/shows.php?PGMID=GREENACRES "Green Acres" on ION Television]
*imdb title|id=0100481|title=Return to Green Acres


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