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Archive for May 19th, 2018

by Sam Juliano

The characters on Green Acres are distinctly cartoonish.  Each was amplified, stretched, exaggerated and subject to slapstick punishment at any moment.  The element of surprise was sometimes delightfully original, though of course like all shows re-runs demanded a different sense of appreciation.    Green Acres showcased contractions like the Heney Egg-Layin’ Inducing Machine, bringing to mind the Wile E. Coyote Acme catalog.  The characters’ voices were as diverse as Mel Blanc’s repetoire, and the background scenery was tongue-in-cheek, a parody recalling Fred and Wilma Flinstone’s home in Bedrock.

The real charm in Green Acres for many were the supporting characters.  Some might opine it is the chemistry between Oliver and Lisa, on par with George and Gracie, albeit with a bit more sophisticated stupidity.  The townspeople were probably even more absurdly animated than Oliver and Lisa and were played straight.  As to the imaginative and colorful sets, the show was a breath of fresh air at a time when Dick Van Dyke and Gomez Addams were grey.  The pacing was also on par with cartoon speed, and coming as it did from the studio that produced Mister Ed.

The Green Acres years were 1965-1971 located at Stage 5 at general Service, where 170 half-hour episodes were put on film.  They were shot on 35mm film with a single camera, no videotape, no live audience, and because of Eva Gabor’s incidence it was a closed set much of the time.  Filing was also out of sequence.  The initial peak into the world of Oliver Wendell Douglas came by way of a narrated prologue, with host John Daly acting as newscaster, providing a formal introduction to the premise.  This was of course preceded by the opening sequence and theme song.  Cleveland Emory rightly called the series a hybrid of The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction, two other shows with added laugh tracks.  Of course Green Acres was never made to be taken seriously.

 

more to come.

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