Though it still gets shown occasionally in returns 45 years after it went off the air, I think that Green Acres is one of the most underrated sitcoms there has been -- as well as among the wittiest, smartest, and most-radically inventive. Here are its two stars, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as the Mystery Guests on What's My Line? And the joyful fun and rapport that they have as guests is what came across on their own series.
Green Acres had a very respectable run, premiering in 1965 and staying on the air through 1971. The show, created by Jay Sommars, always had the reputation as being just another in the CBS lineup of hayseed comedies, like Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies, and Mayberry, RFD. In fact, it probably would have lasted longer (the show was still popular when dropped), but the network decided to clear the schedule of its "hick" shows. Unlike the others, though, there was a current of deep sophistication that ran underneath Green Acres, starting with Albert and Gabor's fish out of water characters, leaving their New York "penthouse view," but continuing with the convoluted conversations they'd have with their neighbors. But it was the way the show knowingly twisted reality in their illogical little world, and how characters would often break the "fourth wall" and either speak directly to the audience or reference the show's conventions that were so unique.
Albert's Oliver Wendell Douglas character who would regularly break to deeply patriotic speeches about farming, with patriotic fife music always played along as scoring -- often with comment, like when Gabor's Lisa would notice that the fife and drums hadn't started yet and would wonder where it was. It would then start late, and she'd express her approval. Or having the character of Arnold Ziffel, the adopted son of Fred and Dori, with just one oddity, almost never mentioned except by outsiders, that he was a pig -- one who understood English, went to school and loved coming over to the Douglas' home uninvited to watch TV. Or the Monroe Brothers handymen Alf and his brother Ralph, the latter of whom was a woman -- a situation explained away because they said they couldn't get work if people knew she was a woman, something perfectly clear to everyone.
Anyway, I love Green Acres, so it was a treat to see the show's stars here. And it's worth noting (as the guests do at the end, in appreciation), that What's My Line? host John Daly had a significant role in the pilot episode of Green Acres, which was done as a sort of documentary, explaining why the two sophisticated New Yorkers shocked their socialite friends by leaving for the rural farm life, and Daly served as the documentary's narrator.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor