26 March 2005

We! Are! There!

Green Acres

We're currently working our way through the second season of Green Acres on DVD, and I have to say, this is one of the only sitcoms that I loved as a kid, that is actually FUNNIER when I watch it as an adult.

Was there any other American sitcom, especially from the mid-60's "golden age" of sitcoms, that owed more of a debt to Luis Bunuel and the Surrealists? Hell, the show had gone off the air before Bunuel's brilliant farce The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgousie even released, but Green Acres was every bit as absurd as that film.

Oliver Douglas was like a 1960s Alice in Rural Wonderland. Dream logic ran the show. Consider: Oliver's socialite wife, Lisa, could apparently talk to barnyard animals. The Douglas' handyman, Eb, pretended to be their son so often that they even tried sending him to college. The Ziffels' son, Arnold, was a pig, but only Oliver seemed to realize that fact, while everyone else insisted he was human. One of the house-painting Monroe brothers, Ralph, was actually a girl, but again, only Oliver seemed to notice. Phone calls, the only contact with the outside world, had to be made from a phone pole swaying in the sky. Mr. Kimball, the county extension agent, only seemed capable of carrying on a conversation with himself, who he always disagreed with.

Every episode was full of strange little dreamlike twists... visitors coming in through a window, people talking with each other's voices, elaborate plans stymied by a pregnant cow or a case of mistaken identity. There wouldn't be another sitcom this blatantly surreal until David Lynch and Mark Frost did On The Air in 1992... another one of my favorite series, but anyway. :)

One little piece of personal trivia... Pat Buttram, who played the Douglas' relentlessly opportunist neighbor Mr. Haney, was my grandfather's cousin.


Post a Comment

<< Home