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Laugh-In: Episode #2.13 (1968)
Good end of 1968 episode
This last show of the year (shown Dec. 30, 1968) is memorable for several reasons. A not-so-fond look back at the November presidential election mocks various politicians in an unusually long sketch. The show's news segment had one big surprise feature introduced as "the worst event of 1968". This cut to network broadcast footage of the Emmy Awards (the show won three awards that year). Host Don Rickles kids Sally Field as she stumbles through her announcement of Laugh-In's Best Writing award. The entire writing staff then goes up on stage to accept. Later there was also some stock footage of President-elect Nixon saying "Sock it to me" at a press conference.
The other stand out is Vincent Price who appears in ten "quickie" one-joke sketches as Dr. Frankenstein in his lab with the monster and Ygor. (The revival of Gothic horror was at a peak in 1968 with Price starring in a series of Poe-inspired AIP films.)
A Mod Mod Look at the battle of the sexes includes a charming song with Goldie Hawn and others. Big-voiced Kate Smith does a series of unfunny musical sketches. The usual roster of uncredited comics and celebrities do a series of one-liner jokes and "If (blank) married (blank)" word-play gags. These are done by Bob Newhart, Rich Little, Bill Dana, Dave Madden, Nanette Fabray, singer Lena Horne, and George Jessel.
F Troop: V Is for Vampire (1967)
Worth seeing for Vincent Price
Guest star Vincent Price is the whole show here. He is clearly having a blast hamming it up as Transylvanian Count Sforza. He dresses and talks like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, travels by hearse, carries a pet crow on his arm, and moves into a supposedly haunted mansion on the outskirts of town. Of course, everyone is afraid of him and assume he's a vampire or something equally sinister.
Later on, the three principals (Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, and Ken Berry) search for the missing Jane (Melody Patterson) inside Sforza's spooky old house. Not surprisingly, all sorts of frightening Abbott and Costello-type sight-gags ensue. The slapstick bits are pretty stale and feel recycled from the many haunted house comedy films of the 1940s. Nevertheless, Price is fun to watch and elevates the material.
Swinging sixties neo-noir update of '50s detective series
This film was inevitable as the late '60s -- following Paul Newman's hit "Harper" (1966) -- reinvented the '40s-'50s private eye yarn by adding more sex and violence. GUNN fits somewhere in the middle of this trend -- not as classy as "Harper" and "Deadlier Than the Male", not as cynical and gritty as Sinatra's "Tony Rome" films (1967-68). Craig Stevens, with his wry humor and effortless charm, rises above the material, much like James Garner in "Marlowe" (1969) -- a highly recommended film in this genre.
Old school "Peter Gunn" fans will lament the absence of Lola Albright and Hershell Bernardi (a cranky Ed Asner fills in), but this should be seen on its own terms as a stand-alone film. The opening credits, with psychedelic graphics and jazzed up theme music, suggest a 007 spy film influence, but the story is a standard whodunit with gangsters and frequent murders. Some of these killings (like the diver with the spear gun) and plot turns don't make much sense or are needlessly complicated, but the fast pacing and supporting cast distracts one from worrying about the details. The sex appeal quotient is ramped up considerably by gorgeous Sherry Jackson (sadly, stunning Carol Wayne only has a cameo at the end). Jackson even did a Playboy pictorial to promote the film. And, for an added plot twist, writer-director Blake Edwards indulges in his strange obsession with gender bending (Victor Victoria, Switch, et al,).
All in all, this is a slick, breezy, enjoyable detective yarn that moves along with strategically placed scenes of action, humor, and eye candy. It is very much a product of the late '60s. (Will someone please release this, along with "P.J." and "Rogue's Gallery", on disc already?) In the next decade this genre would get darker and more complex with The Long Goodbye (1973), Chinatown (1974), and Night Moves (1975).
I Spy: The Trouble with Temple (1967)
The Trouble with Typecasting
The variety of stories in this series is quite amazing, ranging from grim drama to romance to comedy and all points in between. Here is a carefully paced, poignant romantic tale shot in Spain that concentrates on character and emotion. The espionage plot is only a framing device that holds everything together.
Because of her bombshell looks, Carol Wayne was usually typecast as a sexy, dumb blonde ("The Man/Girl from UNCLE", "I Dream of Jeannie", "Bewitched", etc.). She was treated like the Jayne Mansfield of television. As Temple Jones, she gets to act like a real person, not a fantasy stereotype, for a change. She's charming, vulnerable, and reveals layers of hidden depth. Most of the story consists of sensitive scenes between her and Culp's Kelley Robinson. Both actors do a fine job with this slowly developing romance filmed in beautiful locations in and around Toledo.
Temple is the reluctant mistress of traitorous cad Nick Fleming (Jack Cassidy at his most smarmy). A dark subplot involves Scotty being abducted and doped up on an experimental truth serum drug by a shady doctor. Kurt Kaszner ("Land of the Giaints") makes the most of a small role as the doctor and steals every scene he's in. Cosby manages to name-drop "Fat Albert" while the delusional Scott is under the influence of the powerful mind-control drug.
This is one of several personal stories that transcends the spy genre and stands on its own, much like the romance-based "Tatia", "The War Lord", "Laya", etc. Not the usual action-adventure romp the series is known for, but well worth seeing for some very nice performances by Wayne and Culp. This was Wayne's most fully developed role. Too bad she didn't get more substantial parts as a result.
From Topkapi with Love...
All you really need to know about this needlessly padded two-parter is:
1. It's a lighthearted robbery caper, not a serious espionage story.
2. It's a museum heist yarn inspired by the hit film "Topkapi" (1964)
3. Joey Heatherton is a fairly realistic character, not the dumb bimbo stereotype she usually plays.
Due to the famous, unscripted Culp-Cosby banter, the series got away with major shifts in tone -- from comedic farce one week to heavy drama the next. This is one of their semi- comedic romps without the usual murder and mayhem. The story has nothing to do with espionage per se. Kelley and Scott have to steal a painting from a high-tech museum exhibit in Florence. The set up is an excuse to do a variation of the celebrated heist scene from Topkapi. This could have been an "It Takes a Thief" story (that show's pilot was shot the following year).
Not bad, but not memorable either. The fluffy story did not need to be stretched out to two episodes, and the action-adventure elements -- as well as a decent antagonist -- are noticeably absent.
Fortunately, the DVD release includes a unique preview for part 2. This is a standard opening montage except the top part with a close-up of Culp's eyes is replaced by Joey Heatherton.
The Situation Utterly Hopeless Affair
This embarrassing, phoned-in entry illustrates why this spin off was such a disaster. The campy villain and his ridiculous evil plan feels more like a rejected BATMAN script. The show's attempt to capture the flavor of that series and the jaunty humor of THE AVENGERS fails miserably.
The cartoonish plot is a loopy variation on FAUST. Nerdy scientist Dr. Quantum (Tom Bosley) invents a light ray that can remove color from anything, turning objects white. He more or less sells his soul to eccentric millionaire B. Elzie Bubb, who dresses like Satan in a tux, red- lined cape, sinister goatee, etc. Bubb appears and vanishes in a cloud of smoke. (Is he really the Devil or just a magician using tricks?) At least Raymond Massey appears to be having fun hamming it up as Bubb.
April puts on nerd glasses and poses as Quantum's new assistant. She affects a strange accent, part snooty aristocrat, part working-class Bronx. For no good reason, Bubb also owns a Hell-themed nightclub, The Inferno. Hollywood's idea of an East Village beatnik joint with bongo-music, poetry reading, and trendy hipsters. Airing in December 1966, this was especially dated. Oh, and the waiters wear red devil costumes (subtle). Carol Wayne, in a purely decorative role, has two thankless scenes as a club patron. In the pointless scene where Mark searches Bubb's office, the odd snake candle holders from "The Addams Family" are seen.
The climax, with everyone running around in circles for five minutes, is only slightly less goofy than an episode of THE MONKEES. All sorts of random stuff is thrown together without any logic. The problem with this episode and the series as a whole lies in the lazy, hack writing and don't-give-a-crap production. No one cared about quality, and it shows in every frame. The poor actors, stuck with mediocre material and indifferent direction, just muddled through, week after week.
There Goes Carol Wayne...
Busty beauty Carol Wayne is the only attraction in this routine, by-the-numbers romp. Wayne perfectly embodied the sexy, dumb blonde stereotype -- Jayne Mansfield's physicality with a shy Monroe-like whisper. Typecast as a naive sex-bomb, she had near-identical roles in ''I Spy'', ''The Man from UNCLE'', and others. Here she plays a vapid, rising movie star with a Mansfield-like obsession with pink -- even her dog has pink fur.
As a publicity stunt, her agent arranges for famous astronaut Tony (Hagman) to be her escort at a big charity event. Tony behaves like a jerk and lies to Jeannie about who he's taking to the party -- while Jeannie has to stay home. As expected, the usual hijinks ensue. This stale plot about a jealous Jeannie causing trouble for Tony was endlessly recycled throughout the series.
Perennial character actor Jessie White is amusing as Bootsie's conniving, cigar-chomping talent agent. He played similar fast-talking managers, promoters, showbiz types, etc., in scores of shows and films.
In in end, this disposable episode is interesting for one attribute. It is perhaps the only time a gorgeous co-star was able to overshadow the stunning Barbara Eden.
Unhip 30-Minute Promo for a Music Group
The terrible title might as well be "Jeannie, the Hip Hop Gangsta" for all it has to do with hippies or being hip. A shamelessly cynical hijacking of the series to promote clean-cut Boyce & Hart, writers of hit songs for fellow NBC series The Monkees. (There's even an instrumental version of "Last Train to Clarksville".) Of course, the band is given plenty of screen time to perform their latest single (a tepid, forgettable ditty) for Phil Spector, no less. All that was missing was a wacky Monkees-style montage. A segment so disconnected from the series that Jeannie is shoe-horned in (via an implausible excuse) to play drums so the audience won't feel completely alienated by what is essentially an infomercial for a pop group.
The rest of the cast is shoved aside, having no purpose in this hack script. At least Emmaline Henry is given a chance to shine and show some personality and charm. She gets more lines and close-ups than usual. A very attractive, appealing comic actress totally overshadowed by gorgeous Barbara Eden.
Strange that the credits list future convicted murderer Phil Spector as "Steve Davis" yet a fawning Jeannie addresses him by his real name.
Eight weeks later the show went to Hawaii for a two-parter which paid for itself by promoting the hell out of singer Don Ho -- including a weirdly out of place music video. A shame to see the series being taken over by self-serving cigar-chomping record executives.
From Beach Party to Mayberry
The only point of interest here is the re-introduction of Alberta Nelson as diner waitress Flora Malherbe. Earlier, she played a different character in "The Return of Barney Fife". She was also the enigmatic blonde biker chick in most of the Beach Party flicks with Frankie Avalon.
Goober has an overly obvious and rather pathetic crush on Flora. However, she falls for Andy in an equally unsubtle and obvious manner. She throws herself at Andy and even behaves like a stalker, following him into the woods while he's out hunting. Things turn out all right (they always do) when she finally realizes Andy is unavailable while Goober, not surprisingly, is single with no prospects.
Flora is clearly out of Goober's league, but she sees something in him anyway. Nelson is charming in the role and returned a few weeks later in "Goober's Replacement" (episode 28). In season 8 the Flora character was in "Emmett's Anniversary" (1968). Nelson was also billed as "waitress" in the Mayberry R.F.D. episode "Emmett's Retirement" (1969).
The Cool Ones (1967)
The Uncool Ones promises much, delivers little
As a fan of 60s pop culture, I wanted to like this movie. Sadly, this wasted opportunity of a film feels like a rejected script for a proposed Elvis/Beach Party movie. (The director did two Elvis vehicles prior to this.) The muddled, meandering screenplay is by a failed, one-time writer and a studio hack who penned "Ski Party" and both "Dr. Goldfoot" flicks. This film doesn't know what it wants to be. It's a little of this, a bit of that, and a whole lot of bland filler in between. At least we have some pretty people, including a young Teri Garr, in colorful mod outfits doing Toni Basil dance numbers now and then.
The promising opener is a take-off on pop music programs like Hullabaloo and Shindig. A cute blonde go-go dancer (Debbie Watson) yearns to be the next Nancy Sinatra (supposedly, Sinatra passed on the lead role but her singing is heard in some songs). Enter scene-chewing Roddy McDowall. He has a few amusing scenes as wildly eccentric music producer Tony Krum -- a likely parody of legendary whack-job Phil Spector. His fawning assistant, played by the wonderful, sadly neglected Nita Talbot, almost steals the film in her one big seduction scene with lunkhead Gil Peterson. She has comic timing and a sophisticated sex appeal that blows everyone else off the screen. Debbie Watson is fine, but she's one of those generic, wholesome starlets who -- like Deborah Walley, Susan Hart, Pat Priest, Chris Noel, et al. -- provided charming eye-candy in countless '60s comedy/musicals but left no lasting impression.
After McDowall's grand entrance, the film almost becomes a zany spoof of absurd pop-music fads and instant stardom. But this only lasts about five minutes. The gutless, aimless script has nothing more to say about the music business and shifts to the sappy romance between Watson and human Ken doll Gil Peterson. They meet cute and cavort about, performing several song-and-dance numbers for the rest of the near-plot less story. Then it just abruptly ends due to a lack of ideas. Or maybe they ran out of film stock. No tension, no drama, no witty parody, and no resolution to speak of.
The hackneyed romance, cornball dialog, and groan-inducing attempts at humor are, as said before, on par with a Beach Party flick or a standard Elvis musical. (Bit players Talbot, Garr, and Angelique Pettyjohn all did Elvis films, by the way.) There's a couple decent rock songs with twangy, Byrds-like guitar riffs and some vocals by Nancy Sinatra. Also surprising to see a segment playing "This Town" while Watson wanders about in her trendy vinyl cap. Sinatra did a near-identical music video for this song in her "Movin' with Nancy" TV special that same year.
Recommendation: The only entertainment value is for lovers of campy 60s fashions. The mod outfits, mostly Mary Quant-style knock-offs, already seem a bit dated for 1967. The Palm Springs dance number that begins in a tram-car and continues on a mountaintop is great fun (and shows off Teri Garr). McDowall and Talbot elevate the weak material they're given. If the film had focused on them and the music industry this could have been a decent comedy instead of a watered-down, girl-meets-boy musical. If you like this genre, you'd be better off watching "Speedway" (with Elvis and Sinatra) or "Movin' with Nancy".
Return of the Beverly Beatnik
Alan Reed Jr. makes his second of three appearances as eccentric Beat Generation painter Sheldon Epps (preceded by "Clampett A-Go-Go"). Epps is a stereotypical bearded Beatnik hipster in a dirty sweatshirt similar to Maynard G. Krebs from "Dobie Gillis". He needs rent money ("green, bread, lettuce to feed the kitty") from the Clampetts but, once again they are confused by his slang-filled expressions and take him literally. Epps and four beatnik friends live in a dingy basement rented out by Mr. Drysdale. It has that typical East Village coffee- house look with a jukebox and surreal paintings on the walls done by Epps.
Reed dominates this episode and his hep-cat jive-talk expressions are amusing. ("May the saxophone of life only blow you cool notes.") Jethro and Elly go to "Cool School" and become pseudo-beats. Jethro changes into some worn-out clothes ("cool threads") and tries to use hipster expressions. Two years later he will fail in similar fashion to adopt the hippie and protest student ethos.
The Clampett family is tolerant and accepting of this band of kooks and joins them in a swinging music session in their basement crash pad. Even stuffy Drysdale is forced to go along and dances with Mrs. Hathaway. Epps and his friends will return later in the season in "Cool School Is Out". All in all, the Sheldon Epps trilogy serves as a cultural time capsule for 1965.
The Clampetts Meet a Beatnik
An entertaining and interesting time-capsule episode. Being 1965, this was the year sitcoms took their last pot-shots at the fading Beatnik subculture. Two years later the emerging hippies would get the same treatment. Eccentric painter Sheldon Epps (Alan Reed Jr.) is a cliché bearded beatnik who converses in nutty hipster slang. After crashing his vintage sports car into the wall surrounding the Clampett estate, he becomes their house guest. He was distracted by Ellie May whom he describes as "a chick with wild drumsticks". His far-out lingo and colorful metaphors confuse the down-to-earth Clampetts. They think he's lost his mind as a result of the accident. Modern art is also mocked via his nonsensical abstract paintings.
Despite being written as a silly stereotype, Reed really makes the character come to life. He made a good enough impression to be invited back for two more episodes that season -- "Big Daddy, Jed" and "Cool School Is Out". And in 1967 it comes as no surprise that he would play a hippie character in the two-part "Robin Hood" story.
Two months after this episode aired, The Addams Family produced a suspiciously similar story, "The Addams Family Meets a Beatnik", in which a young rebel stays with the family after crashing his motorcycle outside their house.
The last Petticoat Junction crossover episode
This episode wraps up a two-part story with the Clampetts visiting Hooterville (see the review for "Buzz Bodine, Boy General"). Things pick up with the arrival of Mrs. Hathaway, Mr. Drysdale, and his "Singing Secretaries" trio. To impress farmer Howard Hewes -- whom Drysdale thinks is billionaire Howard Hughes -- he has his secretaries dress in matching white mini-skirts, go-go boots and black shirts to sing some specially written songs. The usual comedy-of-misunderstanding stuff that exists in nearly every episode of the series.
As before, all we see of the Petticoat Junction cast is Sam Drucker, Steve, and wife Betty Jo. Elly has nothing to do but take care of Betty's baby and Granny is also neglected. Her long not-really-a-romance story arc with Drucker just peters out. Jethro, dressed as a World War I ace, does some slapstick trying to fly Steve's crop duster, but Raymond Bailey's Drysdale easily steals the show.
Another Multi-Part Petticoat Junction crossover
First of a two-part Hooterville story. The Clampetts decide to visit Petticoat Junction. Jethro pretends to be an Air Force 4-star general, thanks to a rented uniform, and arrives first in a USAF helicopter. Steve Elliott (Mike Minor) agrees to give Jethro flying lessons in his old crop dusting plane. The airstrip land is owned by farmer Howard Hewes (Guy Raymond). Jed decides to go into business with Steve and Hewes, bankrolling a new plane. Over the phone Mr. Drysdale gets the wrong impression Jed is talking about billionaire Howard Hughes. Drysdale, seeing dollar signs as usual, plans to leave for Hooterville right away, hoping to get Hughes to put some of his fortune in the Commerce Bank.
The story suffers from mostly ignoring Granny and Elly. Granny does a little flirting with Sam, but mostly she and Elly stay at the Shady Rest hotel and fuss over Betty Jo's baby. There's really no reason for them to be in Hooterville. This was just another ratings gimmick following the many crossovers in the previous season. The next episode concludes the story and marks the last crossover.
Last Petticoat Junction crossover for the season
This 8th and final crossover for season 7 begins in Petticoat Junction. Sam Drucker asks Betty Jo (Lori Saunders) to look after the General Store while he's in Los Angeles. He won a trip to Hollywood and plans on visiting the Clampetts as well. A garbled telegram message gives Granny the false impression Sam is coming "a courting" and she over-reacts as usual. The misunderstanding between her and Sam has been an ongoing joke in most of the crossovers during the season.
Fearing Granny will run off with Sam -- leaving him at the mercy of Elly's terrible cooking, Jethro tries to sabotage this supposed romance. He gets movie star Dash Riprock to pretend to be one of Granny's many suitors so Sam will lose interest. The only funny bit in the episode is when Dash shows up dressed as The Lone Ranger (Granny's hero) and she rides off with him on his horse down the suburban streets.
This is the only time in the entire series where a cast member from Petticoat Junction (or Green Acres, for that matter) visits the Clampetts in Beverly Hills. The family will visit the Junction once more in a season 9 two-part episode.
The Unfulfilled Potential Affair
Considered to be one of the better, if not the best, entry in the series. However, that is faint praise given the consistent sloppiness, weak writing, and indifferent direction that plagued this show (a one-season flop) from start to finish. The vague, confusing plot defies all logic, the stock characters are sketchy at best, and any action or tension is deflated by campy, self-aware humor.
This episode, which could represent the series as a whole, is like a half-remembered fever dream. A blur of colorful, random events and half-baked ideas that occur for the sake of novelty, much like a cartoon. Between the intro and closing scene you can remove almost any part of this episode and it won't make any difference to the barely-there story. There is no narrative cohesion and nothing to care about.
The basic premise borrows from "The Mummy" (1932) but replaces the supernatural with pseudo-science. A Persian assassin cult (outsourced by THRUSH) that dons Ancient Egyptian ceremonial garb, seeks to transfer the "mad genius" of their long-dead leader (a dummy encased in a glass cylinder) into the brain of his great, great, great granddaughter (once they find her) using some newly-discovered reincarnation brain serum. Of course, no details on how this brain-transfer serum works. Also, after this girl becomes their queen they expect their tiny group to suddenly become powerful enough to defy THRUSH (because...?).
A cult member (Lisa Seagram) just happens to be working for the doctor who invented the mystery serum so, stealing it is easy. Finding the granddaughter is also a snap. They simply place help wanted ads for a 23-year-old receptionist who speaks Ancient Persian in every Berlin newspaper. (Makes perfect sense, right?) This is an excuse for a novelty scene -- an extended "comedic" set up of a Western being filmed in Germany with a cranky Otto Preminger-type director yelling at his actors. The girl in question, Greta Wolf (Sabrina Scharf), is German for some reason -- and an actress playing a saloon girl. (Her German accent comes and goes.) April, Mark, and three cult thugs arrive on the film set at the same time. The thugs chase Mark in another long, drawn out novelty segment (which includes horses and bicycles) and we get a tour of MGM's back lot. Clearly, this movie-within-a-show second act was shoe-horned in as a cost-cutting measure.
April, for no reason whatsoever, puts on a saloon gal costume and pretends to be Greta and is promptly fired. A scene that goes nowhere (I guess they just wanted to put Stefanie in a cute costume). Her only "fight" scene is also a joke. April, the most worthless secret agent ever, runs away from danger and cowers in fear until Mark rescues her.
The wonderful character actor Knigh Dheigh (aka "Wo-Fat") is wasted in a pointless cameo scene as a THRUSH director. He should have been the main villain -- not "Duke Cornwallis", an English fop who assumes that role. Exotic beauty Lisa Seagram could have been a memorable villainess, but her role was underwritten and ignored. She did a Batman episode, which is ironic as this show tried to ride its cape but failed. The kid intern, "Randy Kovacs", an annoying David Schwimmer look-alike, has several pointless scenes with Waverly. The only scenes with any charm are at April's favorite diner run by former Bowery Boy Billy Benedict.
A waste of talent and potential, this series is the television equivalent of being temporarily distracted by a shiny object.
The second crossover with Petticoat Junction
This show (November 6, 1968) is a sequel to "Granny Goes to Hooterville" (Oct. 30) as well as the Petticoat Junction episode "Granny, the Baby Expert" (November 2). All three connect to form a single extended story -- which happens a lot in season 7.
With Granny away, Jed and Jethro are miserable due to Elly May's horrible attempts at cooking. A few funny bits with Jed avoiding her food and using a leather-like slice of meatloaf to fix a hole in his shoe ("Now that's what I call soul food"). Out of desperation, Jethro decides to hire an "eye-talian" cook, Maria (gorgeous Maria Mizar). She's a great chef but only speaks Italian so, some amusing language mix-ups occur such as her pasta with "marijuana sauce".
Over in Hooterville, Granny has "cured" Betty Jo's (Linda Henning) baby from its supposed lycanthropy (a running joke from previous episodes). Betty Jo, her husband Steve and Sam Drucker are the only Petticoat Junction cast members in this episode. Granny rushes home after getting a now out-of-date telegram from Jethro about the awful food situation. This is the funniest part with sped-up film and silent movie piano music as Granny goes on a frantic dash for Beverly Hills. She travels by railroad hand-car, horse, motorcycle, then parachutes from a small crop-duster plane to rescue the family from certain starvation.
Jethro is also in love with Maria and plans to propose to her. This is played out in the following semi-sequel episode, "The Great Cook-Off".
4th Petticoat Junction crossover episode in season 7
This December 4 show is a sequel to "The Thanksgiving Story" (November 27) with the Petticoat Junction cast. Still in Hooterville, the Clampetts say goodbye to Sam Drucker and are about to leave for Beverly Hills when they discover Eb Dawson (the none-too-bright Green Acres cast member) hiding in their trunk. Eb has a terrible crush on Elly May and wants to marry her.
Meanwhile, Mr. Drysdale is staying at their mansion taking care of Elly's animals, including a very demanding bear with human-like intelligence. Problems with the bear become a running gag and continue in the amusing "Christmas in Hooterville" (Dec. 25) and its sequel.
Drysdale fears Elly might eventually marry hayseed Eb and move herself (and the family fortune) away from Commerce Bank. So, he forces actor Dash Riprock to pretend to be a country boy and court Elly using his real name, Homer Noodleman. A funny bit ensues when Mrs. Hathaway is coerced into impersonating Noodleman's hillbilly father (with ratty clothes, beard, and hat).
Two episodes later, the crossovers continue with "The Week Before Christmas."
The 7th Petticoat Junction crossover episode in season 7
A sequel to "Christmas in Hooterville", Drysdale is arrested for vagrancy in the tiny hick town of Ripley. He was on his way to Hooterville in the Clampett's truck. And, for no good reason, he also had their pet bear along for the ride. (A real bear is used in almost every scene.)
Jed calls Sam Drucker over in Petticoat Junction-land for help. "Green Acres" regular Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson) makes an appearance in Drucker's General Store. He also did 12 episodes of P.J.
The rest of the plot involves a standard comedic courtroom scene (a sitcom staple in the 60s) with a judge ably played by familiar character actor J. Pat O'Malley. An okay episode but nothing to write home about. The next episode, "Problem Bear", is more or less a continuation of this story, minus any crossover cast members.
The 6th Petticoat Junction crossover episode
A frequently surreal yarn with a flashback, a nightmare dream sequence, a nod to "A Christmas Carol", and some man-in-bear-suit shenanigans. In the previous episode, Jethro was set to marry both Bradley sisters. This conflict is "resolved" by lazy writing. Jethro simply hides out at home while the rest of the family goes to Hooterville. For some reason, Drysdale is staying with Jethro at the mansion. The only funny bit is of him waking up next to their pet bear. In a mockery of marriage, the bear beats him to the bathroom as Drysdale complains like a henpecked husband. At the bank we see "A Christmas Carol" inspired scenes of a whip- wielding Drysdale behaving like Scrooge. He faints after hearing Jed is putting money in the Hooterville bank. He dreams that Sam Drucker has become his boss. Upon awakening he has a change of heart and generously gives everyone the day off.
Meanwhile in Hooterville, we see a flashback from the previous episode of the bear eating Sam's letter to Granny. She thinks Sam was going to propose to her but never finished reading the letter. Elly is sort of dating Eb Dawson (the only Green Acres cast member in the episode). He has a crush on her but Elly is reluctant. As Justice of the Peace, Sam Drucker tells Elly he'd be "happy to marry her" when she decides. Granny overhears this and thinks he's proposing to Elly. Granny goes overboard with a makeover and shows up dressed like a little girl in 1900s-type garb and a wig.
Steve Elliott (Mike Minor) croons a wistful, romantic song that has nothing to do with Christmas and everyone sings a carol together on the train (exterior shots are stock footage from another episode). The Jethro segment and Drysdale's frantic drive to Hooterville (with the bear in the truck) are story threads left hanging. An ambitious episode with a lot going on during this packed half-hour story. Enjoyable on a nostalgic level but nothing all that funny or memorable occurs.
The next episode, "Drysdale and Friend" continues the bear road-trip story with appearances by Sam Drucker and Fred Ziffel.
The weak episode before Christmas
Season 7 (1968-69) was loaded with "Petticoat Junction" crossover episodes intended to boost ratings. This is the 5th one (with three more to come). The Clampetts are invited to Hooterville for Christmas. During the previous Thanksgiving show, Jethro conned the Bradley sisters (Meredith MacRae, Lori Saunders) into believing he was a Hollywood producer who'd make them movie stars. Apparently he also proposed marriage -- to both of them. And the girls, not being terribly bright, are okay with that and eagerly await his arrival. Their foolish fawning over Jethro is totally unreal, but both shows are exercises in absurd fantasy where anything goes.
The crossover aspect is limited to two scenes in Sam Drucker's general store with Sam (Frank Cady) and the Bradleys and him talking to Granny over the phone. As usual, Granny misconstrues the situation and believes Sam wants to marry her. There's some nonsense concerning a pet bear eating Sam's letter to Granny, but otherwise nothing much happens. The story exists just to string-out the crossover appeal and set up the conflict to be played out in the next B.H. episode.
Also, this is loosely linked to the next Petticoat Junction episode "A Cake from Granny" (shown three days later on December 21, 1968) with cameos by Granny and Mrs. Hathaway.
More like Granny gets ready to go to Hooterville
The first of eight crossover episodes (plus two guest spots on Petticoat Junction) in season 7. This one is all build up with no payoff (you'll have to see the next episode for that). Upon returning from their 5-episode stint in England (cue stock footage of Pan Am jets and LAX), Granny gets word that Petticoat Junction's Betty Jo Bradley (Linda Henning) just had a baby. As a self-proclaimed expert baby doctor, Granny gets all worked up about leaving immediately for Hooterville. The running joke here is that no one else in the family knows Betty Jo or her family. (Granny turns out to be a very distant cousin.)
All we see of Hooterville is Sam Drucker and Uncle Joe talking to Granny on the phone. The episode ends just as her trip gets started (Jethro is supposed to drive her the entire way). This is nothing more than a long, drawn out set up for the next episode. One amusing bit has Jed holding miss Hathaway and carrying her to a sofa after she hurts her back. Granny -- and later, Mr. Drysdale -- mistake this for a romantic encounter and complications ensue. Overall a disappointing entry due to a padded story that literally goes nowhere.
The mother of all crossovers, the story continues on Petticoat Junction,"Granny, the Baby Expert" (November 2, 1968), then wraps up on B.H. "The Italian Cook" (November 6). Then the Clampetts visit Hooterville for Thanksgiving, Christmas, plus another Petticoat show, etc. (see my other reviews for this string of shows).
Three-series crossover episode with mixed results
The Clampetts visit Hooterville for a special Thanksgiving episode. Granny, who went by herself in two earlier episodes, wants to check up on Betty Jo's newborn baby (Linda Henning and Mike Minor were married in real life and on the show), She also wants to continue her romantic dalliance with Sam Drucker.
Jethro dresses up like a big shot Hollywood producer and tries to convince the lovely Billie Jo (Meredith MacRae) and Bobbie Jo (Lori Saunders) that he can make them movie stars. They naively fall for his phony showbiz blather.
Elly May wears a stunning, shimmering evening gown and long gloves and really does look like a glamorous old school movie star. Eb Dawson (the only Green Acres cast member who has dialog) appears smitten with her -- this is developed in later crossovers to come.
Too bad there is next to no interaction with the other cast members at the Shady Rest Hotel. The big Thanksgiving dinner finale with the cast of all three shows seated together is a bit of a letdown. While Jed says grace, we catch a quick silent glimpse of June Lockhart, Eddie Albert, and Eva Gabor -- and that's it. These look like pre-filmed insert shots. These actors were either not available or were left out to save money. Anyone expecting to see these characters mixing it up with the Clampetts will be disappointed with this bait and switch editing trick. A great idea but the payoff is pretty weak and unsatisfying in the end.
The next episode, "The Courtship of Homer Noodleman" picks up where this leaves off and has bits with Sam Drucker and Eb. And there are plenty more crossovers to come.
Jethro, Hippies, and Drug Jokes (Part Two)
This story is part of the wave of squares-make-fun-of-hippies parodies on TV (Batman, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, Gomer Pyle, et al.) that began in 1967. The previous episode ("Robin Hood of Griffith Park") set up this story of a delusional Jethro and Ellie trying to live as Robin Hood and Maid Marion in the park. A cool 1930s hearse pulls up and out piles a large gang of hippies in goofy flower child attire. The kids embrace Jethro as their leader, El Supremo, and throw a wild party with music and dancing. The Peppermint Trolley Company (an obscure, generic rock band that did work for television) performs a song.
Jed, Granny, Drysdale and Hathaway, become concerned and search the park for Jethro and Ellie. The stereotypical hippies are at least colorful and amusing to behold. Especially the misunderstanding about Granny's "smoking crawdads". They think Jethro is talking about weed so, complications ensue. Even Granny is hassled by the Fuzz when she asks for a pot to smoke some more crawdads. Very odd to hear so many drug-reference jokes in such a conservative show. All of this makes for a diverting episode that, if nothing else, serves as a pop-culture time-capsule of sorts.
First of a two-part Griffith Park hippie yarn
Season 6 began with a three-episode arc about the Clampetts going to England after inheriting a castle. The first part of this episode wraps up the U.K. story-line with the family returning to Beverly Hills. Jethro is not happy as he believes he's the descendant of Robin Hood and wants to stay. Back in Los Angeles, he dons a Robin Hood costume and leaves with Ellie (dressed as Maid Marion) to live in Griffith Park. This will be his version of Sherwood Forest where he will "rob from the rich and give to the poor."
A stereotypical hippie and his girlfriend (Laurel Goodwin) ride in on a motorcycle. Jethro convinces them to join his Merry Band. When he mentions Granny's "smoking crawdads", the hippie thinks he's talking about some exotic new brand of pot. This misunderstanding becomes a running gag that continues in the following episode.
A so-so entry that's mainly a set up for the next show ("Robin Hood and the Sheriff") which is much better as it concludes the Griffith park story with a gang of flower children, a rock band, and more off-the-wall drug humor. Unless one is a die-hard fan, you can skip this and just watch "Sheriff".
Cast note: sharp-eyed sci-fi fans may recognize Laurel Goodwin as Yeoman Colt in the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage", reworked as "The Menagerie".