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Oliver, Lisa and Arnold on a Season 3 DVD cover
|Created by||Jay Sommers|
|Written by||Jay Sommers|
|Directed by||Richard L. Bare|
Arnold the Piggy
|Theme music composer||Vic Mizzy|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||170 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Henning|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Filmways TV Productions|
|Picture format||Color (1965–1971)|
|Original release||September 15, 1965 –|
April 27, 1971
|Related shows||The Beverly Hillbillies|
Green Acres is an American sitcom starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York City to a country farm. Produced by Filmways as a sister show to Petticoat Junction, the series was first broadcast on CBS, from September 15, 1965, to April 27, 1971. All episodes were filmed in color.
Receiving solid ratings during its six-year run, Green Acres was cancelled in 1971 as part of the "rural purge" by CBS. The sitcom has been in syndication and is available on DVD and VHS releases. In 1997 the two-part episode "A Star Named Arnold Is Born" was ranked #59 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time.
The roots of Green Acres derive from Granby's Green Acres, a comedy show aired on the CBS radio network from July 3 to August 21, 1950. The eight-episode summer series was created by Jay Sommers, who also wrote, produced, and directed.
The principal characters, a married couple played by Bea Benaderet and Gale Gordon, originated (though under a different surname) on Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband. The Granby's premise was that a big-city banker fulfills a lifelong dream by moving his family to a run-down farm, despite knowing nothing about farming. The nearby feed store is operated by the absent-minded Mr. Kimball, and the Granbys hire an older hand named Eb (voiced by Parley Baer, who would guest-star in several episodes of the television series) who often comments on incompetent management.
Adaptation to television
Following the success of The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, CBS offered producer Paul Henning another half-hour slot on the schedule, without requiring a pilot episode. Faced with running three shows, Henning encouraged Sommers to create a series for the time slot. Sommers would go on to write and produce about one-third of the episodes.
In pre-production, proposed titles were Country Cousins and The Eddie Albert Show.
Green Acres is about Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), an erudite New York City attorney, fulfilling his dream to be a farmer, and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor), his glamorous Hungarian wife, dragged unwillingly from an upscale Manhattan penthouse apartment to a ramshackle farm.
The debut episode is a mockumentary about their decision to move to a rural area, anchored by former ABC newscaster John Charles Daly. Daly was the host of the CBS game show What's My Line, and 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.
Although many Green Acres episodes were still standard 1960s sitcom fare, the show developed a regular undercurrent of surrealism and satire. The writers soon developed a suite of running jokes and visual gags, and characters often broke the fourth wall to address the audience.
The show is set in the same television universe as Henning's Petticoat Junction, featuring such towns as Hooterville, Pixley, Crabwell Corners, and Stankwell Falls, as well as sharing characters such as Joe Carson, Fred and Doris Ziffel, Sam Drucker, Newt Kiley, and Floyd Smoot.
Oliver Wendell Douglas
Much of the humor derives from Oliver's striving toward success and happiness in an absurd situation, despite the rural citizenry, his high-maintenance wife Lisa, and his affluent mother (Eleanor Audley), who regularly ridicules him for his agricultural pipe-dreams.
Oliver is subject to ribbing by the townsfolk when he performs farming chores dressed in a three-piece suit, and when he launches into starry-eyed monologues about "the American farmer"—replete with a fife playing "Yankee Doodle" in the background (which every on-screen character except Oliver can hear).
Lisa's skewed world view and domestic ignorance provide fertile ground for recurring gags. Much of her early life was lived in Hungary, where she grew up pampered in a wealthy family. 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 (the real-life sisters were often mistaken for one another).
Oliver and Lisa are both depicted as fish out of water. While Oliver instigated the move from Manhattan to Hooterville over Lisa's objections, he is typically uncomprehending of and impatient with the locals. Lisa, a natural airhead, more naturally fits into the illogic of their neighbors while quickly assimilating to their quirky, offbeat surroundings. Oliver, despite his efforts to fit in, is often at a loss to grasp the surreal situations.
Mr. (Eustace) Haney
Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram) is the oily, dishonest local salesman who originally sold Oliver the Green Acres Farm (previously the Old Haney Place). In the early episodes Haney repeatedly profits from Oliver by removing all the farm's basic fittings and equipment (the kitchen sink, bath, stove, cow, tractor, plow, etc.), and selling or renting them back to Oliver at wildly inflated prices. In succeeding episodes, Haney invariably arrives on cue every time Oliver needs an item or service, typically accompanied by a custom-made sign for each occasion. Pat Buttram later revealed that Haney's character was inspired by Elvis Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker.
Fred and Doris Ziffel
Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson) and his wife Doris (Barbara Pepper 1965–1968, Fran Ryan 1969–1971) are the Douglases' childless elderly neighbors. They have a pig named Arnold, whom they treat as their son. Fred is a cantankerous old-fashioned farmer who was born during the Grover Cleveland administration. Everything about him is "no-nonsense", except for the fact that his "son" is a pig.
Arnold Ziffel is a pig whom the Ziffels treat as a son, understands English, lives indoors, and is pampered. Everyone understands Arnold when he grunts, as if he were speaking English, except Oliver. He is an avid TV watcher and a Western fan, attends the local grade school (carrying his book pack in his mouth), and signs his own name on paper. Only Oliver believes 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 home to watch their TV.
The Monroe brothers
Alf (Sid Melton) and his "brother" Ralph (Mary Grace Canfield) are two quarrelsome carpenters. In the episode that introduces them, Alf confesses that Ralph is actually his sister, and explains they would not get jobs if people knew that she is a woman. The Monroes rarely finish projects, and those that they do complete are disasters, such as the Douglases' bedroom closet's sliding door that is always falling down, their unsuccessful attempts to secure the doorknob to the front door, etc. In one episode, after accidentally sawing Sam Drucker's telephone line at the general store, they splice it back together, although backwards, causing Drucker to listen at the mouthpiece and talk into the receiver. Melton left in 1970 (season four) to do Make Room For Granddaddy, so the writers developed an occasional subplot that involved sister Ralph's attempts to win the affections of "Hanky" Kimball or some other hapless Hooterville bachelor. Alf later returns for Ralph's failed wedding to Kimball.
Storekeeper Sam Drucker (Frank Cady) is a regular character in both Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. The first bar of the Petticoat Junction theme song is usually played during the establishing shot of his store.
Drucker also serves as a newspaper editor and printer, volunteer fireman with the Hooterville Volunteer Fire Department, notary, constable, justice of the peace, and postmaster. As editor of the Hooterville World Guardian, his headlines are often decades old.
Drucker is often the only character who is inspired by Oliver's rural patriotism. He filters Oliver's idealism to the townsfolk and, conversely, filters the plebeian backwoods notions of the community back to Oliver.
A gentle parody of regional government bureaucrats and civil service employees, Alvy Moore plays the often confused county agricultural agent Hank Kimball, who draws folks into inane conversations, loses his train of thought, then exits the scene. The series was reportedly one of the first pre-recorded sitcoms to use cue cards extensively during filming, and Moore later recounted that he found them invaluable when performing Kimball's convoluted rambling, rapid-fire dialogue.
Eunice Douglas (Eleanor Audley) is Oliver's mother, who seems to side with her daughter-in-law far more than her son. She is aghast at the prospect of Oliver and Lisa moving to Hooterville and often tries to convince Lisa to come back to New York City with her (or as she puts it, "Come back to America") and escape the primitive life of the farm. Eunice is a recurring character on the first four seasons of the show. Audley's role has been compared to a recurring character she also played on The Beverly Hillbillies as Millicent Schuyler-Potts, headmistress of the Potts School where Jethro attends the third grade.
The folks from Petticoat Junction
Shady Rest Hotel owner Kate Bradley appears in a few early episodes. She tries to help Lisa adapt to country living, most notably giving her the recipe for her hotcakes, which Lisa ends up botching, resulting in Lisa's infamous "hotscakes". Uncle Joe Carson (who soon develops a romantic interest in Oliver's mother) is seen at times playing checkers, loafing, or mooching fruit at Drucker's Store with Petticoat Junction regulars Newt Kiley and train conductor Floyd Smoot. Betty Jo Bradley appears in one episode as Eb Dawson's date. Her sister Bobbie Jo appears in the same episode. Blonde-haired Billie Jo is the only Bradley sister never to appear in Green Acres. Western film actor Smiley Burnette guest-stars several times as railway engineer Charley Pratt in 1965 and 1966. Burnette and Pat Buttram (Mr. Haney) were both comic sidekicks of singing cowboy Gene Autry in his 1950s Westerns.
Crossovers with The Beverly Hillbillies
In the March 1967 episode "The Beverly Hillbillies" (season 2, episode 23), the Hooterville theater puts on a play in homage to "famous television show" The Beverly Hillbillies. Oliver plays Jethro opposite Lisa as Granny Clampett.
Starting in 1968, The Beverly Hillbillies aired episodes with the Clampetts in Hooterville visiting distant cousins the Bradley family. This brought the world of all three shows into the same reality. "The Thanksgiving Story" includes a split-second insert of Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor at the dinner table with the casts of all three series. There is a sub-plot with Eb Dawson falling in love with Elly May Clampett that continues in the following episode "The Courtship of Homer Noodleman". The Clampetts return to the Shady Rest Hotel in "Christmas in Hooterville" with Eb still fawning over a reluctant Elly May.
- Oliver Wendell Douglas: Eddie Albert (170 episodes)
- Lisa Douglas: Eva Gabor (170 episodes)
- Eb Dawson: Tom Lester (148 episodes)
- Sam Drucker: Frank Cady (142 episodes)
- Eustace Haney: Pat Buttram (84 episodes)
- Hank Kimball: Alvy Moore (79 episodes)
- Fred Ziffel: Hank Patterson (50 episodes)
- Doris Ziffel: Barbara Pepper (1965–1968) (30 episodes)/Fran Ryan (1969–71) (7 episodes, 5 as Doris Ziffel)
- Arnold Ziffel: (Original pig came from the town of Union Star, Missouri)
- Ralph Monroe: Mary Grace Canfield (41 episodes)
- Alf Monroe: Sid Melton (1965–1969) (26 episodes)
- Newt Kiley: Kay E. Kuter (1965–1970) (24 episodes)
- Mother Eunice Douglas: Eleanor Audley (1965–1969) (15 episodes)
- Roy Trendell: Robert Foulk (1966–1968) (15 episodes)
- Ben Miller: Tom Fadden (1965)
- Horace Colby: Hal Smith
In addition, the crossovers from Petticoat Junction cast members, most frequently, were:
- Uncle Joe Carson: Edgar Buchanan (1965–1969) (17 episodes)
- Floyd Smoot: Rufe Davis (1965–1967) (10 episodes)
- Charley Pratt: Smiley Burnette (1965–1967) (7 episodes)
- Kate Bradley: Bea Benaderet (1965–1966) (6 episodes)
With the death of Tom Lester on April 20, 2020, all of the above cast are now deceased.
During its six-season run, many familiar actors guest-starred on the show, along with other lesser-known performers who later achieved stardom, among them: John Daly, Elaine Joyce, Gary Dubin, Herbert Anderson, June Foray, Bob Cummings, Sam Edwards, Jerry Van Dyke, J. Pat O'Malley, Johnny Whitaker, Jesse White, Al Lewis, Gordon Jump, Bernie Kopell, Len Lesser, Bob Hastings, Don Keefer, Don Porter, Alan Hale, Melody Patterson, Rusty Hamer, Regis Toomey, Heather North, Allan Melvin, Parley Baer, Jack Bannon, Reginald Gardiner, Rick Lenz, Al Molinaro, Pat Morita, and Rich Little in a cameo as himself.
In 1970–1971, during the series' sixth season, Green Acres placed 34th out of 96 shows. Despite the respectable ratings and winning its timeslot, the network cancelled the show in the spring of 1971 after 170 episodes.
CBS at the time was under mounting pressure from sponsors to have more urban-themed programs on its schedule. To make room for the newer shows, nearly all of the rural-themed shows were cancelled, later known as the "rural purge," of which Pat Buttram said, "CBS cancelled everything with a tree – including Lassie."
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||32||September 15, 1965||June 1, 1966|
|2||30||September 14, 1966||April 26, 1967|
|3||30||September 6, 1967||April 10, 1968|
|4||26||September 25, 1968||April 2, 1969|
|5||26||September 27, 1969||April 11, 1970|
|6||26||September 15, 1970||April 27, 1971|
The surviving members of the cast (except for Eleanor Audley, who had retired from acting 20 years earlier) were reunited for a TV movie titled Return to Green Acres. It aired on CBS on May 18, 1990. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor recreated their Green Acres characters for the 1993 CBS special The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies.
MGM Home Entertainment released the first three seasons of Green Acres on Region 1 DVD. The entire six-season run of the series is available for purchase via Amazon's video-on-demand service.
On July 7, 2017, Shout! Factory announced it had acquired the rights to release future seasons of the show. It subsequently released Green Acres – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on October 17, 2017.
|DVD name||Episodes||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The Complete First Season||32||January 13, 2004||January 15, 2007||N/A|
|The Complete Second Season||30||March 8, 2005||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete Third Season||30||December 6, 2005||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete Fourth Season||26||November 28, 2017||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete Fifth Season||26||February 27, 2018||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete Sixth Season||26||July 10, 2018||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete Series||170||October 17, 2017||N/A||N/A|
|1) 1965–66||Wednesday at 9:00–9:30 PM||#11||24.6|
|3) 1967–68||#15||22.8 (tied with the CBS Friday Night Movie)|
|4) 1968–69||Wednesday at 9:30–10:00 PM||#19||21.6|
|5) 1969–70||Saturday at 9:00–9:30 PM||Not in the Top 30||N/A|
|6) 1970–71||Tuesday at 8:00–8:30 PM||#34||N/A|
In the 1990 reunion TV movie Return to Green Acres, made and set two decades after the series, Oliver and Lisa have moved back to New York but are miserable there. The Hootervillians implore the couple to return and save the town from a scheme to destroy it, cooked up between Mr. Haney and a wealthy, underhanded developer (Henry Gibson). The Monroe brothers still have not finished the Douglases' bedroom, while a 20-something Arnold survived his "parents" and subsequently bunks with his "cousin", the Ziffels' comely niece. With a nod to the times, Haney's latest product is a Russian miracle fertilizer called "Gorby Grow".
Film and Broadway adaptation
Until his death in March 2015, Bare was working on a film version of the TV series, and he was teaming up with Phillip Goldfine and his Hollywood Media Bridge to produce it. A Broadway version was also in development.
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As Pat Buttram said, ‘It was the year CBS canceled everything with a tree in it.’
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AsGreen Acress regular Pat Buttram lamented: They cancelled everything with a tree—including Lassie
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