Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: ‘Green Acres’ was genius. I will not entertain counter-arguments

Arnold the Pig

Arnold the Pig in a musical moment.


Too many people think of Green Acres as just another hick sitcom, like Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies (though to be fair, The Beverly Hillbillies could sometimes be genuinely funny). But Green Acres was a brilliant post-modern parody of those shows, and I have been delighting in reruns on Old People TV (did you know Tom Selleck is doing reverse mortgage commercials!?).

 

Loosely based on a short-lived radio series, Green Acres starred comic aces Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, backed by a supporting cast so terrific it would be unfair to single anyone out, and staffed by writers and directors who came up with material as wonderfully insane as the pre-MGM Marx Brothers movies. Take a look at these opening-credit sequences:

Lisa Douglas is, by the way, my Spirit Animal (I have to say “Ziss has been a Filmvays Presentation, dahling” with her after every episode). The scripts are packed with more obscure pop-culture references than a whole season of Archer (I remember Alf and Ralph Monroe calling each other “Brenda and Cobina” at one point). Oliver and Lisa Douglas were, I maintain, the sexiest couple on ’60s TV (after all, we never saw Gomez and Morticia actually in bed together!). The fact that Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were 59 and 46 when the show started makes them even hotter.

I leave you with this snippet, which cannot have amused Eva’s sister, and my sincere advice to dash off to Sam Drucker’s and pick up the Green Acres boxed set to play on your Victrola:

 

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
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15 Responses to Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: ‘Green Acres’ was genius. I will not entertain counter-arguments

  1. I agree Miss Eve, Albert and Gabor made this series brilliant.

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  2. i wouldn’t disagree with you.

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  3. Mike McCann says:

    A BRILLIANT COLUMN!

    Paul Henning, who used to write for Burns and Allen, infused Lisa with many of the characteristics that made Gracie so adorable.

    Also, the director of the pilot episode had the amazing ability to see the future 15 years down the road. Watch it again and you will — based on the TV we have seen since — see that it mashes sitcom with Ted Koppel’s Nightline. And notice who “plays” Ted.

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  4. Mel Neuhaus says:

    Excellent, Eve, just da berries! Reading this sent my spirits “shoosting up to the skies.”

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  5. Eve says:

    I’m so glad there are other Green Acres fans who “get it!” I am still laughing at Mr. Haney’s “gen-you-wine Anny Held milk bath” and Mr. Ziffel complaining that Oliver in his long-johns “is no Gilda Gray.”

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  6. donnalethal says:

    Agreed! Look up “A Day in the Life of Green Acres” on youtube for a great take on this hyper-surrealistic masterpiece. Lisa Douglas should be everyone’s spirit animal … if not Arnold.

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  7. aryedirect says:

    When CBS abandoned its high road, it went low with what the network referred to as ‘hick shows’. Paul Henning and company flew into the breach. CBS never regained their Tiffany status, but audiences flocked to those rural based shows. My own guess is that as national demographics shifted from mostly rural to urban, a sense of nostalgia set in for the illusion of simpler times. Personally, I could not cotton to corn. But there had to be some sly humor in the cornfields. Will leave the appreciation of that to others.

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  8. E. Yarber says:

    I remembered the Burns and Allen connection as well.

    Henning used to tell how he wrote his mother a letter saying he’d just gotten a job writing for George Burns. His mother wrote back, “Let me know when you start writing for Gracie. She’s the funny one.”

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  9. mark johnson says:

    Same here, Mel. Even the clips had me chortling.

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  10. Eve says:

    Did you know the Monroe Bros.’ full names are Ralph Waldo Monroe and Alfred Lord Monroe?

    S’trewth!

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  11. Howard Decker says:

    Did I see the same show episodes that you did? The show I saw was an awkwardly staged cornball insult to country people, typical typewriter-by-the-pool with plenty-of-gin-on-hand, Beverly Hills junque. No doubt it helped to start the current rural vs. big cities divide that got us Comrade Trump.

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    • Eve says:

      Well, tastes in comedy differ, of course, and not every episode was a winner, but the people of Hooterville outsmarted the city slickers time and again. New York lawyer Oliver tended to be the butt of the jokes.

      Though I can see Trump as having the morals of Mr. Haney and the brains of Hank Kimball, it’s true . . .

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  12. Benito says:

    The Nielsen ratings system of that era overstated rural viewers vs. urban viewers, leading to more hick TV shows. So said my statistics professor. PS Ever notice it’s a fast trip from Hooterville to Petticoat Junction?

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  13. Don Danard says:

    Years ago when I lived in California, one of my best friends was Hank Patterson, one of the “Green Acres” stars. He “owned” Arnold the Pig in the series. Great guy ol’ Hank.

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  14. busterggi says:

    One of the few radio shows that improved in the tv version – it was virtually dada-tv.

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