Reviews

The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Second Season

In addition to being occasionally hilarious this show also lays bare urban fantasies about rural life and people.


The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Second Season

Distributor: Paramount
Cast: Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr., Raymond Bailey, Nancy Kulp, Sharon Tate
MPAA rating: N/A
Network: CBS
First date: 1962
US Release Date: 2008-10-07
Last date: 1971
Amazon
Amazon

Television shows in the '60s and movies in the '70s seemed a tad preoccupied with country folk versus city folk. On the television side, there was the The Andy Griffith Show, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres. Taking a darker turn in the movie theaters, Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, just to name two blockbusters, also worked the country versus city angle.

The countrifiedness of television became so overplayed advertisers called for a halt to such programming, wanting instead to place ads targeted toward a presumed more sophisticated, urban audience. “The Rural Purge” it became known. By 1971, “CBS killed everything with a tree in it,” according to actor Pat Buttram, aka Mr. Haney on Green Acres.

The Beverly Hillbillies (1962–71), a sitcom written and produced by Paul Henning, followed the success of The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68). It centered around a family from the Ozarks who moved to Beverly Hills after oil (“black crude, Texas tea”) was found ($35 million worth, to to be exact) on their land, making them instant millionaires. Unlike The Andy Griffith Show, which attempted to showcase the gentle, small-town values of Mayberry in a sentimental light, The Beverly Hillbillies deliberately exaggerated the differences between life in the city versus the country for laughs, creating caricatures of country folk while making token gestures to their superior common sense and kindness.

Buddy Ebsen played Jed Clampett, the wise and kindly patriarch, and Irene Ryan played Granny, the irascible and loveable matriarch who tended to the hearth after Jed’s wife died. Donna Douglas and Max Baer Jr. played Jed’s adult children, Elly May and Jethro, respectively. Elly May was a knockout tomboy who compulsively befriended critters, liked climbing trees and wrasslin’ bobcats, and Jethro was a big hunk of a man whose brainpower was inversely proportional to his physical strength. Other regulars on the show included Mr. Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), the bank manager who did anything in his power to keep the Clampetts’ millions in his bank, and Miss Hathaway (Nancy Kulp), the pretentious and androgynous bank secretary who secretly lusted after Jethro and tired of Mr. Drysdale’s greed and obsequious attitude toward the Clampetts.

Paramount’s 5-disc DVD The Beverly Hillbillies: The Complete Second Season (1963-64) features 36 episodes of the popular show during its heyday in black and white. (The show later appeared in color beginning in 1965.) Season two features cameos by a young Sharon Tate, bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs (who performed the original theme song, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett"), original show openings and closings and the most-watched half-hour sitcom episode ever, “The Giant Jack Rabbit”, a silly but hilarious episode about an escaped kangaroo Granny mistakes for a five-foot-tall jack rabbit.

Having the option to view each episode with or without the original sponsor at the opening and/or closing proves fascinating from a historical perspective, as viewers can see firsthand the shamelessness with which advertisers once integrated its products into the shows they sponsored. One might expect a cut to the beginning of the episode after the show's theme winds down. Instead, the truck in which Jed, Granny, Elly May and Jethro ride in the classic intro passes a truck or billboard bearing a product's logo, which quickly gets inserted to the song.

The sponsor didn't stop there: The closing scenes of each episode found the Clampetts using one of the sponsor's products, just in case you missed the intro. (Unlike the remastered shows, the opening and closing sponsored portions are on 16 mm prints and have a grainy quality, serving to highlight its historical authenticity.)

In addition to being occasionally hilarious (especially when Granny and/or Mr. Drysdale, the most extreme characters on the show, are featured), The Beverly Hillbillies lays bare urban fantasies about rural life and people. In a classic move of “othering”, which is more often encountered with racialized subjects, the creators of The Beverly Hillbillies use regionalism and class to devalue the Clampetts, while suggesting they're superior to the jaded city folk in other ways.

Granny’s weird medicine practices of creating poultices and snipping off and burying a patient’s hair mysteriously trump modern medicine and cause a startled Mr. Drysdale to grow hair. When Miss Hathaway listens to Bluegrass LPs during her “folk-music appreciation” lunch breaks at the bank, the artists Flatt and Scruggs just pick away, lost in the music, unmediated by theory. When Mr. Drysdale suggests Granny call Beverly Caterers after she tells him she’s tired of cooking, Granny thinks this is an actual person and thanks her in advance for being so neighborly in helping cook sow belly, boiled possum and other such “viands” for a tuckered-out old woman.

The Beverly Hillbillies: The Complete Second Season also has some fun extras, in addition to the original-episode sponsor openings and closing: Ryan’s screen test as Granny (Where did they find her!); clips from the 1963 Fall Preview Show; the CBS Network Promo (1963/64); and an interview with Henning in which he reveals The Beverly Hillbillies, more than Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, both of which he created, was always his favorite.

8

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image