This Week, The Mermaid Lady Salutes:

Green Acres


This week, we pay homage to that wild & wacky (and often surreal) rural TV sitcom, Green Acres. As established in the opening theme, this was a story about a wealthy New York attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) who buys a dilapidated farm in attempt to escape the Big City and live the elusive idyllic dream of the The American Farmer. His wife Lisa (Eva Gabor), a Hungarian immigrant and socialite, reluctantly tags along.

Created by Paul Henning and set in the fictional town of Hooterville, it shared the same fictional universe as his other two shows, The Beverly Hillbilles and Petticoat Junction. While superficially the inverse of the former (Metropolitan family in Rural America vs. Rural family in Metropolitan America), all similarities ended there.

Green Acres was an exercise in absurdity, surrealism, culture jamming and Dada-ism. The bizarre community of Hooterville can best be described as Lake Wobegon on LSD. Townsfolk included:

  • Frank and Doris Ziffel: neighboring farmers whose "son" was an intelligent Pig named "Arnold", capable of remakable tasks (usually offscreen) much to Oliver's bemusement.
  • Mr. Haney: the local con man who sold Oliver his decrepit farmhouse and land. He continued to con his easy "mark" by selling him all kinds of bizarre (and usually worthless) items.
  • Mr. Kimball: the inept County agent, who could never quite complete a sentence (or a thought).
  • The "Monroe Brothers": two carpenters, consisting of "Alf" and his sister "Ralph". They were always working on Oliver's house, but never finished any part of it.
  • Eb: their incompetent farmhand. He slept up in the hayloft of their barn and often referred to Lisa and Oliver as "Mom" and "Dad", to Olivers annoyance.

    The series would frequently break the fourth wall by having Lisa interact with the opening credits. Sometimes they would appear on her "hotscakes" as she was preparing breakfast. Other times she would react to them when they appeared in the dark at bedtime. Oliver was predisposed to long-winded speeches about "The American Farmer". When he would start to deliver one, patriotic fife music would often start to play in the background, and the townspeople would begin to search for the source.

    Ironically it was Lisa, initially reluctant to come, who fit right in with the townspeople, while it was Oliver who was permanently befuddled and the only one in the community who was not in on the joke.

    Despite consistenty high ratings, Green Acres was cancelled in 1971 along with its two sister shows. CBS, in its not so infinite wisdom, decided to cancel its "Rural" themed programming in an attempt to appeal to a more "sophisticated" audience.

    All in all it was a show ahead of its time. Green Acres we are there!!

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