The times, they were a-changin’ during the mid-sixties in America. The Vietnam War was heating up, the civil rights movement was making major strides, and it seemed that the whole country would soon be vastly different than it was just a few short years earlier. It was in the midst of these turbulent times that the first episode of Green Acres hit the airwaves.
The idea of metaphorically moving the average American family from the madness of the modern urban landscape and returning them to the simpli…ity of a traditional rural locale was an inspired one. Loyal fans tuned in each week to see what inept farmer Oliver Wendall Douglas would do next, when confronted with the challenges presented by his wife, the local townspeople and even by the land itself. The citizens of Hooterville would never be the same, once the Douglas’s moved in to the old Hayney place. Similarly, for a half-hour each week, the citizens of the United States were also changed, and given a relaxing and comfortable setting in which to unwind from the stresses of their own tumultuous lives.
What I love about this show is the same thing that I love about the recent reality show The Simple Life… both the townspeople and the country folk are equally eccentric in their own way. The humor is both smart and funny in these episodes; a far-too-rare trait of sitcom writing. While The Beverly Hillbillies will always be my favorite “hayseed comedy”, Green Acres is still a fantastic example of how entertaining a half-hour sitcom can become when the settings are taken down to their most basic elements.
The original English Mono soundtrack is the only audio choice for this DVD collection, and that is just fine with me. There is no need to expand the audio offering beyond its original limitations. Unfortunately, the source material is not without some problems. As would be expected from a television show of this age, the dynamic range of the audio is compressed. As a result, the dialog and the sound effects are both quite flat.
Another problem with the audio comes as a result of the sounds that were recorded at a higher decibel level. Certain jumps in volume, such as laughter or screaming, cause the audio to distort. This is a flaw on the original source, and not a product of the DVD mastering. Even so, it can still become a bit annoying when it is housed in this ultra-clear digital format.
I can’t imagine how long it would take (and how much it would cost) to completely restore the video on all 32 of the episodes from Season One. I would think that it would not be very cost effective to do so. Nevertheless, this release is in desperate need of a video touch-up. Scratches, grain and dust are apparent throughout the entire set. While some of this is certainly to be expected, select scenes, such as exteriors shot on location, are particularly bad, and very distracting to the overall image.
On the plus side, the colors look great, with Eva Gabor’s fashionable wardrobe marking a bold contrast to the dilapidated locations and sets it inhabits. Likewise, the show has a clarity that is quite surprising, bringing a depth to the images that I had not experienced before during television re-runs.
Just like MGM’s similar release of Mister Ed, this DVD collection comes as-is, with no additional features available. I’m not too terribly disappointed by this, but surely something extra could have been added… even if it were just trailers for other MGM products. Having said that, I do appreciate the fact that they crammed so many episodes onto only two discs, to keep the retail price at a minimum.
Arnold the pig would be pleased to see that there is still a market for his wisdom. No new ground is covered here, but the individual episodes themselves hold up well. Plus, this is a great value, providing over 13 hours of entertainment for a price less than $30. If you miss the days of the wholesome sitcom, then Green Acres is the place to be!