Green Acres


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tabs

About

Green Acres (1965-71, CBS), in the words of author David Marc, is "as utterly self-reflexive as any program ever aired on network TV." The gifted child of television mastermind Paul Henning, who made his name and fortune on The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres was a spinoff created in conjunction with Jay Sommers, based on his original radio series Granby's Green Acres. Yet despite its folksy origins, and in an age which routinely produced garrulous nags, crusty aliens, flying nuns, suburban witches, maternal jalopies, and coconut-powered shortwaves, Green Acres stands proudly as the furthest point on the envelope of television's psychedelic era.

Reversing the narrative hook of The Beverly Hillbillies (city folks come to the country), Green Acres simultaneously managed to nosedive off the edge of the known world. Prestigious lawyer Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) and his socialite wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) trade in their exhausting Park Avenue existence for the simple country pleasures, which they imagine await them wrapped in a cloak of Jeffersonian idealism, glorious sunrises, and the smell of new-mown hay. What they find instead is a consensus reality which flies in the face of Cartesian logic, Newtonian physics, and Harvard-sanctioned positivism. Albert, who made his film debut in Brother Rat opposite Ronald Reagan, takes refuge in the same reductionist platitudes his former co-star eventually learned to trade on quite deftly, but they ultimately prove no match. Meanwhile, Gabor (who with her sisters Zsa Zsa and Magda had by this time been dubbed "mythological" by Dorothy Parker) embraces this new order with a circular instinct worthy of Gracie Allen herself (Henning's long-time employer). Against all odds, Lisa flourishes--coaxing the chickens to lay square eggs, bringing a world-class symphony conductor to Hooterville, establishing a state-of-the-art beauty salon in Sam Drucker's General Store, and of course, perfecting her signature biological weapons-grade hotcakes.

Also populating this wrinkle in critical reason are a healthy cross-section of supporting eccentrics. These include: Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram), the hornswaggling con man whose bargains invariably cost the Douglases several times their face value. Buttram once served as Gene Autry's sidekick, and claims he based his character loosely on Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's legendary shadowy manager, whom he had known as a carnival entrepreneur in the 1940s, where he ran a booth featuring dancing chickens. County Agent Hank Kimball (Alvy Moore) "discourses on plant and animal husbandry rival those of a semiotics professor" (according to Marc, and personifies a kind of infinite regress, where every empirical statement branches into multiple statements that in turn preclude it, spiraling each new observation back and away from itself like an inductive Escherism. Fred and Doris Ziffle (Hank Patterson and Barbara Pepper; later Fran Ryan) are the beaming parents of Arnold, a 250-pound adolescent pig who watches television, is writing a book, visits Washington on scholarship, and ultimately falls in love with Mr. Haney's pet basset hound.

Green Acres was canceled in 1971 when CBS consciously targeted a younger demographic audience and purged its so-called "rural comedies." Its user-friendly absurdism became one of the cornerstones of the mock-patriotic revivalism of the Nickelodeon Channel's "Nick at Night" lineup in the early 1990s.

-Paul Cullum

CAST

Oliver Wendell Douglas.......................... Eddie Albert

Lisa Douglas............................................ Eva Gabor

Mr. Haney.............................................. Pat Buttram

Eb Dawson............................................. Tom Lester

Hank Kimball.......................................... Alvy Moore

Fred Ziffel........................................ Hank Patterson

Doris Ziffel (1965-1969)..................... Barbara Pepper

Dorris Ziffel (1969-1970)............................ Fran Ryan

Sam Drucker.......................................... Frank Cady

Newt Kiley (1965-1970).......................... Kay E. Kuter

Alf Monroe (1966-1969)............................. Sid Melton

Ralph Monroe (1966-1971)........... Mary Grace Canfield

Darlene Wheeler (1970-1971)............. Judy McConnell

PRODUCERS

Paul Henning, Jay Sommers

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

170 Episodes

CBS

September 1965-September 1968   Wednesday 9:00-9:30

September 1968-September 1969   Wednesday 9:30-10:00

September 1969-September 1970   Saturday 9:00-9:30

September 1970-September 1971   Tuesday 8:00-8:30

FURTHER READING

Marc, David. Demographic Vistas: Television in American Culture. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984.

_______________. Comic Visions: Television Comedy and American Culture. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Marc, David, and Robert J. Thompson. Prime Time, Prime Movers: From I Love Lucy to L.A. Law, America's Greatest TV Shows and the People Who Created Them. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Story, David. America on the Rerun: TV Shows That Never Die. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol, 1993.

Highlights
Paul Henning on Jim Aubrey offering him a chance for a third series, which became Green Acres
02:08
Nolan Miller on designing costumes for Green Acres
01:47
Paul Henning on creating and casting Green Acres
05:48
Richard L. Bare on directing Green Acres
08:14
Jonathan Murray on The Simple Life as a real life Green Acres
01:09
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
01:13
Who talked about this show

Richard Bare

View Interview
Richard L. Bare on directing Green Acres
08:14
Richard L. Bare on "Arnold the pig's" trainer, Frank Inn, and his training techniques and abilities on Green Acres
16:47

Paul Henning

View Interview
Paul Henning on creating and casting Green Acres
05:48
Paul Henning on 1991's Green Acres reunion movie
01:13
Paul Henning on the theme songs to Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction
03:30
Paul Henning on the cancellation of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres  
01:27
Paul Henning on a picture with the casts of The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction
03:59

Frank Inn

View Interview
Frank Inn on acting as animal trainer for "Arnold," the pig on Green Acres
08:46
Frank Inn on working with the cast of Green Acres
01:31
Frank Inn on his more popular animals like "Arnold," the pig from Green Acres and "Benji"
02:37

Nolan Miller

View Interview
Nolan Miller on designing costumes for Green Acres
01:47
Costume designer Nolan Miller on working with Eva Gabor on Green Acres
03:50

Vic Mizzy

View Interview
Vic Mizzy plays the theme to Green Acres
00:32
Vic Mizzy on scoring and writing the theme song to Green Acres
03:24
Vic Mizzy on the instrumentation and knowledge about the show used to create the theme song to Green Acres
01:29
Vic Mizzy on working with Eddie Albert on Green Acres
01:47
Vic Mizzy on the instrumentation for Green Acres
01:52
Vic Mizzy on working with Jay Sommers, the creator on Green Acres, and the cancellation of the show
01:46
Vic Mizzy on working with Paul Henning on Green Acres
00:41
Vic Mizzy on a typical scoring session on Green Acres
00:57
Vic Mizzy on the musical legacy of Green Acres
01:28
Vic Mizzy on a photo of him teaching the actors the theme to Green Acres
00:35

Jonathan Murray

View Interview
Jonathan Murray on The Simple Life as a real life Green Acres
01:09

Carroll Pratt

View Interview
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26

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