"Green Acres" when it premiered on CBS' Wednesday night prime time schedule opposite "The Beverly Hillbillies" on September 15,1965 was one of the trilogy of "rural comedies" that were created and produced by Paul Henning(who was also behind the success of "The Beverly Hillbillies", and "Petticoat Junction"). The overall premise of "Green Acres" started on radio under the title "Granby's Green Acres" that was broadcast on CBS Radio as a replacement for the Lux Radio Theatre that aired for 13 episodes from July 3, 1950 until August 21,1950. Created and produced by Jay Sommers and starred Gale Gordon and Bea Benederet.
The television version that it was based on was also created and produced by Jay Sommers and Paul Henning(who served as executive producer) the series lasted six seasons and 170 color episodes until April 27,1971. The overall premise was built around a big city lawyer Oliver Douglass(Eddie Albert),and his fashionable wife Lisa(Eva Gabor)that abandon their upscale Manhattan Park Avenue penthouse and affluent and hectic lifestyle for the rustic and more "civil" world of farming in the fictional Midwestern town of Hooterville. Though Oliver is happy to make the transition to farm life,his upscale wife Lisa is less enthusiatic,though she adapts the best she can in spite of her thick Hungarian accent. Of all the running gags that this series had involves her inability to prepare anything other than "Hotcakes", and even those leave much to be desired. The other running gag centers around the frequent visits by Oliver's mother(Eleanor Audley) who begs with Oliver to go back to Manhattan to the law business but in turn sides with her daughter-in-law in regards to her son's desire to live the simple life.
Having the series set in the same locate as Henning's "Petticoat Junction"(which there were several crossover episodes)that allowed frequent appearances by Edgar Buchanan, Frank Cady, and others. Frank Cady did double duty on "Petticoat Junction",and was a guest star on "The Beverly Hillbillies" before he became a series regular on "Green Acres". Oliver's assistant and Farmhand Eb(Tom Lester)was "The Beverly Hillbillies" version of Jethro, a doofus who was shorthanded on brains and no muscles. The other mixed bag of weirdoes were The Monroe Brothers(Sid Melton and Mary Beth Canfield)were the carpenters from hell,forever causing chaos wherever they had a project to do but would never quite finished it. Then there was the biggest scam artist of them all,the slimy and unpredictable Mr. Haney(played by veteran cowboy sidekick Pat Buttram who was a regular of the Gene Autry movies of the 1940's and 1950's) who was forever pulling a fast one or con scam out of Mr. Douglass who was forever plying his oily wares at unreasonable prices. Other characters were the County Extension Agent Hank Kimball(played by veteran actor Alvy Moore)who was always giving Oliver Douglass fits when it came agricultural things which the agent had no experience about.
Another inspired bit that was also part of a running gag of jokes was the opening credits of one installment and this went on in several episodes where the names of the episode's writer, producer, creator, and director were listed. One of the directors,veteran Richard L. Bare was part of this. Bare,who was a director of "B" movie 1950's standard fare and his work on several television shows,directed more than 166 episodes of "Green Acres" that aired between 1965-1971. The writing and production of Jay Sommers(170 episodes) and Dick Chevillat(152 episodes) were also listed on the opening credits as well. Other directors that contribute to "Green Acres" episodes were Ralph Levy, Bruce Bilson,and Vincent Sherman. Comedical writing came from Al Schwartz, John L. Greene, Elroy Schwartz, Phil Leslie, Joel Kane, Bob Marcus, Dan Beaumont, Lou Huston, Buddy Atkinson, Joel Rapp, Larry Scott Anderson, along with Stan Dreben and Bobby Bell just to name a few.
Big name guest stars appeared on "Green Acres" too. From Al Lewis, to Parley Baer, Bea Benederet, Melody Patterson, Lyle Talbot, Anthony Caruso, Regis Toomey, Peter Whitney, Johnny Whitaker, Ketty Lester, Doris Packer, Ray Kellogg, Virginia Sale, John Stephenson, Henry Corden, Ray Teal, Bernie Kopell, J. Carroll Naish, Alan Hale, Jr., Francine York, Rusty Hamer, Allan Melvin, Pat Morita, Rich Little and Don Porter. Even theme composer musician Vic Mizzy had a guest starring role in one episode.
The best episodes from the series I will start with the premiere episode "Oliver Buys A Farm"(Season 1,Episode 1),and "Lisa's First Day On The Farm"(Season 1,Episode 2),and "The Decorator"(Season 1,Episode 3). The other episodes included "The Case Of The Hooterville Refund Fraud" (Season 5,Episode 21); "I Didn't Raise My Pig to Be A Soldier"(Season 2,Episode 3);"My Husband,The Rooster Renter"(Season 1,Episode 5),and "An Old Fashioned Christmas"(Season 2,Episode 13); "The Beverly Hillbillies" (Season 2,Episode 23);just to name a few.
"Green Acres" for the first four seasons had solid ratings where it was placed between "The Beverly Hillbillies" on CBS' Wednesday night schedule from 1965-1969. By the 1969-1970 the network moved the series from Wednesday nights to Saturday nights in an earlier time slot opposite "Adam-12" and the long-running "The Lawrence Welk Show". And in it's sixth and final season for the 1970-1971 season saw the show moved again from Saturday nights to Tuesday nights where it was opposite "Julia", "The Don Knotts Show",and "The Mod Squad" where it was clobbered in the ratings. The series that replaced "Green Acres" for the 1971-1972 season was "The Glen Campbell Show" aka "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Country Hour",and "The John Byner Comedy Show". "Green Acres" when it was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1971 was the victim of CBS' "rural purge" of shows that also included "Hee Haw"(2 seasons), "The Beverly Hillbillies"(9 seasons); "Petticoat Junction"(7 seasons), "Lassie"(17 seasons); "The Ed Sullivan Show"(23 seasons); "Mayberry RFD"(3 seasons); "Hogan's Heroes"(6 seasons); "Family Affair" (5 seasons),"The Jackie Gleason Show"(19 seasons), and "The Red Skelton Show"(18 seasons). The shows that were canceled by the network were replaced with shows to attracted an urban audience.