Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- There is also the US town of Green Acres, Washington
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.
After the first few episodes, the series stopped being a typical rural comedy and developed an absurdist world of its own that was partly surreal, partly fish-out-of-water, partly satire, partly silly, partly slapstick and partly shtick. It became more surreal as the series progressed.
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 glamorous bejeweled Hungarian wife, "Lisa Douglas ", dragged unwillingly from the privileged city life she adored to a bucolic life on a severely ramshackle farm.
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.
- "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 ". And only Oliver appeared to be aware Arnold wasn't a human.
- Whenever Oliver made a rousing speech about the American farmer, a fife could be heard playing Yankee Doodle in the background. 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.
- 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. 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 worthless, and his farm house 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 handyman "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 extension 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. The Beverly Hillbillies and other shows with rural settings were also canceled at the same time.
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 eaten.
In the US and Canada, the first and second seasons of the show are available on DVD.
- Oliver Wendell Douglas: Eddie Albert
- Lisa Douglas: Eva Gabor
- Mr. Haney: Pat Buttram
- Sam Drucker: Frank Cady
- Eb Dawson: Tom Lester
- Fred Ziffel: Hank Patterson
- Doris Ziffel #1: Barbara Pepper (left the series due to ill health)
- Doris Ziffel #2: Fran Ryan (1969-71)
- Hank Kimball: Alvy Moore
- Ralph Monroe: Mary Grace Canfield
- Alf Monroe: Sid Melton
- Newt Kiley: Kay E. Kuter
- Eunice Douglas: Eleanor Audley (Oliver's mother)
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).
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