There could be no other theme song in the history as television as famous as The Beverly Hillbillies‘s musical ear-worm (“The Ballad of Jed Clampett” written by Paul Henning). The entire story of the show is captured in its simplistic, catchy lyrics: a “poor mountaineer” who could barely feed his family members goes “shootin’ at some food” and hits an underground well of “bubblin’ crude.” The subsequent thing he knows “ol Jed’s a millionaire” and absolutely everyone tells Jed that “Californy is the location you ought to be” so he gets his truck and household collectively and “moves to Beverly (Hills, that is)”. That’s the whole Beverly Hillbillies show in a nutshell: Jed (the late Buddy Ebson, Breakfast at Tiffany’s) is the patriarch of a the Clampett family, which consists of Jed’s daughter Elly May (Donna Douglas, Lover Come Back), Jed’s sister’s goofy son Jethro (Max Baer Jr, Macon County Line the last surviving member of the cast), and everyone’s preferred cantankerous grandma (Irene Ryan, O, My Darling Clementine). Following striking it rich on oil, Jed and his crew move into a swank Beverly Hills mansion and set up shop subsequent to Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale (Vertigo’s Raymond Bailey and Son of Flubber‘s Harriett B. MacGibbon), who invest the season scheming to preserve the Clampett’s wealth in the bank Mr. Drysdale runs, along with Drysdale’s loyal but decent assistant, Ms. Hathaway (Nancy Kulp, A Star is Born).
Your enjoyment of The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Initial Season rests solely on how much you like gimmicky Television shows from the 1960s. Along the lines of Gilligan’s Island, The Addams Family, and I Dream of Jeannie, this is a fantasy stretched out to epic proportions. If you can think it, the show aired for practically a decade, finishing its run in 1970.
There is not a lot of depth here, as this is basically a one particular-note show that rides the premise’s joke—backwoods yahoos living among the wealthy elite—as far as it can go, and then requires it just a little bit additional. The humor comes from double entendres and watching the Clampett clan interact with anything that wasn’t a part of their dilapidated farm. The Beverly Hillbillies assumes the Clampett household are ignorant rubes, so it derives humor from their wonder at seeing items we take for granted—running water, coffee machines, and more. Their reactions are, “Hey appear, it is fancy shower! Or a fancy poodle!” or whatever the Clampetts can marvel at with wide-eyed redneck’d wonder.
Like any show balancing precariously on a thin premise, The Beverly Hillbillies gets by on the likability of its cast, a slew of character actors who endear themselves to audiences. Buddy Ebson makes for the least bumpkin of the crew, constantly trying to make certain his young daughter and nephew are taken care of and shown the way of the (California) globe. Max Baer, Jr. and Donna Douglas make for amusingly daffy supporting characters, each of them wild-eyed as they take in the Beverly Hills sights and mores that often confuse them (Jethro going to college, Elly Might going on a date). Emmy nominee Irene Ryan is sufficiently irritable as Granny, and for my money she’s the most amusing actor on the show (her screaming fits are nevertheless funny almost sixty years soon after the truth). Raymond Bailey and Harriett B. MacGibbon as the upper crust Drysdales are a mainly one particular-note fixture in the show, about mostly to provide Jed and the Clampett’s a foil to bound their cultural confusion off of. Finally, there is the kindly Nancy Kulp as Ms. Hathaway, who also feels like the moral heart of the show. She operates Mr. Drysdale, but is of sort-heart and considered “loved ones” by the Clampetts.
On one particular hand, The Beverly Hillbillies is as substantial as cotton candy and only twice as dense. This is not a show that makes us think quite deeply about society’s ills or the disparity in between wealth and the poor. The show was developed by Paul Henning, who also had a hand in Petticoat Junction and, to a lesser extent, the similarly themed Green Acres which reversed the premise by plopping a wealthy socialite couple on a rural farm. Henning seemed to recognize the worth in casting over scripts, given that it’s the actors who sell the sub-par material. Feel of it as a handful of notches under the classic Ma and Pa Kettle movies.
Every single episode is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. This is the very first time that the series has been given a proper DVD release, and it appears quite excellent. The transfers for each of these 36 episodes are clean, with a handful of tiny defects. The black and white contrasts are all solid and clear. The Dolby 1. Mono audio is a front heavy mix that attributes clear dialogue, music, and effects. The only bonus characteristics are the original network sponsor openings/closings on pick episodes, as effectively as an extended version of “The Clampetts Strike Oil” pilot episode.
The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official 1st Season seems like it was a lengthy time coming. Difficult to think this is the 1st time the whole initial season is seeing the light of day on DVD. I guess those hoping for Blu-ray have a lengthy wait ahead of them. Even though it can be a fun blast from the past, watching all 36 episodes in a row might melt your brain. I’d suggest spreading it out of the course of a couple of weeks (or months). Still, the performances and story lines are all silly and (at times) amusing. Fans of the series will surely eat up this new 5-disc set.