Sunday, September 2, 2012

Classic TV: The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)

Some people tire of the city and aspire to move to the countryside. But what happens when it goes the other way?

You all know the story of The Beverly Hillbillies. On a hunting trip, Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) uncovers a spot of oil while "shooting at some food", as the song goes. Once it dawns on him that he's become a very rich man, Clampett packs up Granny (Irene Ryan), niece Elly May (Donna Douglas), and dumber than a bag of hammers nephew Jethro (Max Baer, Jr.), along with a host of pets, and makes the cross-country trek to Beverly Hills. In the course of 9 seasons, the Clampetts' rural savvy befuddles the big city folks, including banker Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), their next door neighbor.

Despite his lack of education, Jethro is ambitious enough----or is he just too naive to understand---to try just about anything to make a living, including a run as a Navy frogman. Elly was being courted by just about every Tom, Dick, & Harry that came along, including Drysdale's nephew, Sonny (Louis Nye). Granny was feisty, paranoid, and just plain suspicious of everything.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the series, and you'd think that the cable networks that share the rights, like TV Land, for example, would do something to mark the occasion. However, as of this writing, they're not, and that's a shame.

Blastfromtheepast uploaded the color version of the iconic theme song.

After the series ended, Buddy Ebsen took a couple of years off, then returned with another hit series, Barnaby Jones, which would prove significant in that the theme from that show was heard in the 1981 Hillbillies reunion movie. Of course, both shows aired on the same network (CBS).

A later feature film with Jim Varney & Diedrich Bader didn't exactly win over critics and fans, and there had been talk of a---gulp----reality series based on the show, but after a reality-show remake of Gilligan's Island tanked, well.....!

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I've caught a few shows here and there and it's good for a laugh. I always had a respect for the Jed character, as he seemed the most real of all of them. He was a simple mountain man who in light of his new circumstances tried to get the rest of the family to fit in somewhat, while still a bit puzzled at how "city folk" behaved.

Jethro gave me migraines!

Elly Mae was hilarious and I think anyone who ever knew a child who brought home a stray pet all the time definitely understood her.

Granny always reminded me of the matriarch who knew the old ways were best - in the extreme!

Personally I think the show ran too long before being cancelled, but the show (expecially during its B&W era) had a few gems. One fave was an epsiode in which Jethro (who was enrolled at a private elementary school - as a 4th grader) made friends with a classmate whose parents wouldn't let him get dirty or have fun like most boys that age would. It was sweet seeing the kid take to the Clampetts and act like a kid when at their house.

The feature film was OK, almost a guilty pleasure.

hobbyfan said...

I wasn't exactly a Jethro fan myself (Couldn't you tell?), but there were a few faves from the color era.

The poor response to the movie, I think, was proof enough that the concept wouldn't work with today's audience, only because we have a generation or two of movie-goers conditioned to expect poop jokes in every comedy......