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TelevisionWeek Executive Editor Tom Gilbert joins our roster of bloggers with this forum all about classic television, where anything from "Leave It to Beaver" to "Malcolm in the Middle" is fair game for discussion. Reunion specials, DVD releases of classic shows, vintage commercials -- anything that's ever been telecast is the hot topic here.

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Timeless TV


June 2007 Archives

'Green Acres': Unsung Masterpiece

June 21, 2007 4:06 PM

While most of CBS’ 1960s-era rural comedies have dated rather poorly—the early seasons of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” a major water-cooler success in its day, contain some gems, but “Petticoat Junction” is just plain unwatchable—“Green Acres” is better than ever.

It is so off-the-wall that it refuses to date.

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Besides great turns by stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, what terrific characters there were: Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram), the relentless con man with the lanky voice; Hank Kimball (Alvy Moore), the hapless county agent and master of the parenthetical clause who could never tell a story in a straight line; Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson), the pig farmer with the “talking” pig Arnold; the Monroe brothers, Ralph (Mary Grace Canfield) and Alf (Sid Melton), carpenters who could never seem to complete a job. (Truth alert: I always thought “Make Room for Daddy” veteran Sid was a bit of a miscast, but Mary Grace was aces.)

The actors brought such believability to their roles it’s almost as if they walked in off the street.

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Or out of a corn field. Whoever cast the show was brilliant. I remember grizzled little Granny being THE sensation on “The Beverly Hillbillies” when it premiered; it’s like whoever found Irene Ryan went back to the well and came up with these folks.

If you haven’t revisited “Green Acres” lately, please do. And if you’ve never seen it, by all means check it out. It’s even in color. Here are the opening credits:


Sister Acts

June 6, 2007 1:40 PM

Whatever happened to sister acts? Today we have the Olsen twins and Paris and Nicky Hilton. That's about it. And they aren't even acts. Intentionally, that is. I dare say they couldn't get their acts together even if they were acts.

The Andrews Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, the Lennon Sisters. Those were sister acts. And great ones. I never realized the Andrews Sisters, who peaked in the 1940s, made it into the 1960s intact, but here they are in a mid-decade clip from "The Dean Martin Show":

The McGuires were arguably the best harmonizers of the lot, and here they have some fun with the fledgling Kane Triplets in this clip from "The Ed Sullivan Show" in October 1960.

Nor did the years diminish the McGuires' charms. Watch them blow away the Judds in '86.

And finally, here for your consideration are the Lennons in a 1960s appearance on "The Hollywood Palace." You've got to agree with Mr. Welk, they were truly lovely.

Which act is your favorite?