Green Acres

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Greenacres.jpg
Aerial photo featured in the opening sequence of Green Acres
There is also the US town of Green Acres, Washington

Green Acres is an American television series that was produced by Filmways, Inc. and originally broadcast on CBS from 1965 to 1971.

The series featured Eddie Albert as "Oliver Wendell Douglas", a rich and successful New York attorney who was acting on his lifelong dream to be a farmer, and Eva Gabor as his glamorously bejeweled Hungarian wife, "Lisa Douglas", dragged unwillingly from the privileged city life she adored to a bucolic life on a severely ramshackle farm.

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 due to the slapstick, silliness and schtick, though adults often appreciate it on a different level. Its premise is sometimes compared to that of 1982-90 Newhart, though Newhart had no slapstick and was more cerebral.

It was set in the same fictional universe as the rural television comedies Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies, featuring such picturesque towns as Hooterville, Pixley, Crabwell Corners and Stankwell Falls. The shows even shared characters.

Much of the humor of the series derived from easily-frustrated, obsessive and short-fused Oliver's attempts to make sense of the largely insane world around him.

Some of the more noteworthy surreal aspects included:

  • Oliver always farmed wearing an expensive suit, just as he had done when practicing law.
  • "Arnold Ziffel", a pig. Arnold was an avid TV watcher, and who, despite being a pig, was the "son" of a human couple, "Fred Ziffel" and Doris Ziffel". Only Oliver appeared to be aware, or to care, that Arnold was not a human.
  • Whenever Oliver made a rousing speech about the American farmer, a fife could be heard playing Yankee Doodle in the background. (Wife Lisa called this the "shoosting speech" as Oliver always included a reference to the "crops shooting up out of the ground".) The other characters would frequently look around to try to find the source of the music. The other farmers also hated his speeches lionizing farmers.
  • There seemed to be two versions of reality. One was that of the Hootervillians, which eventually included Lisa. The other was Oliver's. But there were times when it appeared that Oliver wasn't entirely sane either, as noted with his suit fixation above.
  • One running joke was that Oliver had a pronounced tendency to mangle words, especially when his wife, Lisa, mangled them first, as she frequently did, since English was not her native language.
  • Another was the opening credits. In some episodes, the opening credits would appear and be visible to Lisa, but not Oliver. Sometimes, they would appear on Lisa's rubbery hotcakes—another ongoing joke in the series. In another instance, they were on the eggs laid by the Douglas' hens. One episode opened with the characters arguing, then realizing the credits were running, and sitting down and waiting for the credits to get done on grounds no one was paying attention to what they were saying.
  • Oliver was the only person who did not realize that he was a terrible farmer, his farmland almost worthless, his tractor an antique relic, and his farmhouse a shack.
  • Oliver had always dreamed of becoming a farmer, but the reality for him was a nightmare, although he lived in complete denial of that fact. Lisa, who always longed to go back to New York and would go back in a heartbeat, actually adjusted quite well and was relatively happy in Hooterville. The local people liked Lisa, but thought Oliver was weird.

The other recurring characters included incredibly lazy and gullible farmhand "Eb Dawson", acquired by Oliver along with the farm; dishonest and oily salesman "Mr. Haney", who originally sold Oliver the farm and who still always got the best of him; scatterbrained county agent "Hank Kimball", who always got lost in his explanations; the "Monroe Brothers", incompetent contractors "Alf" and his sister "Ralph"; and grocer "Sam Drucker," the only person who seemed mostly normal, but who also saw nothing unusual in some of the more bizarre people around him, including "Arnold".

Although still popular, the show was canceled in 1971 when CBS decided to shift its schedule to more urban, contemporary-themed shows, which drew younger audiences found to be more desirable by advertisers. (Nearly the entire Green Acres cast was middle-aged or older.) The Beverly Hillbillies and other shows with rural settings (such as Hee Haw) were also canceled at the same time.

Popular western film actor Smiley Burnette (also a regular on Petticoat Junction) 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.

An urban legend says that the pig who played Arnold 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 were ever eaten by the cast.

In the US and Canada, the first and second seasons of the show are available on DVD.

Cast

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


A book containing detailed information on the creation and history of the show has been written, titled The Hooterville Handbook : A Viewer's Guide To Green Acres (ISBN 0312088116).

External links

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