Come ride the little train that is on its way to the junction. Petticoat Junction. This forgotten show is a blast to behold at the junction. Petticoat Junction. Lots of curves for you to watch, much better than Who’s the Boss?, is the junction. Petticoat Junction – The Official First Season.
Insert train noises here.
Don’t worry. I’m done with my feeble attempts at parody, and will now discuss this treat of a show that is often overlooked by fans of classic television. Led by Edgar Buchanan and his somewhat iconic performance as the wishy-washy dim-wit schemer Uncle Joe, the laughs start early and keep coming throughout all 38 of the first season episodes.
This season is in black-and-white, though the show switched to color two years in, and eventually lost star Bea Benaderet before the end of its seven-season run after she lost a valiant fight to lung cancer. The illness limited her participation in the 1967-68 seasons, but here she can be seen in all her kind, attractive, sharp-witted glory as Kate, a single mother of three beautiful young ladies, who runs a bed and breakfast called the Shady Rest in a town called Hooterville.
Most surprising to me is how the series successfully dabbles in sexuality with the three heart-stoppers Kate continues to parent, though they appear to be free from their teen years. One might think ambition would be a life skill Kate would have chosen to impart on her children, but if she’d done that, we never would have gotten the experience of 222 episodes, so no use complaining. Though many may not remember Petticoat Junction, it carved its own successful niche during the rural craze of the sixties, and spawned Green Acres, another classic series that shared many of the same characters from time to time.
Fans of The Beverly Hillbillies could also look forward to an occasional crossover, though season one is played much closer to the chest, taking time to develop its characters, as well as an ongoing villain in the dastardly dealings of Homer Bedloe (
The 1.33:1 full frame couldn’t look any better.
One track, a straight English Mono, plays loud enough, though hard consonants can seem a little soft when characters are speaking to one another. Doesn’t seem like as much time was spent here, but it is digital-TV-quality stuff, and most folks in the market for a set like this will either not notice or not care. It only slightly under-whelms, and reality tells one to half-expect it. As monaural tracks go, it could be a tad better, but volume and balance are equally fine, and meet the needs of content.
I was a little surprised by the extras
Intros galore! – Pat Woodell (Bobbie Jo, one of Kate’s daughters) and Linda Kaye Henning (Betty Jo, you guessed it, another of Kate’s daughters) provide video intros, giving a bit of background to the episode as a whole. Only a couple of minutes each, but it adds up. They also provide introductions to a 1990 interview with series creator Paul Henning (yes, Linda Kaye’s father), the original sponsor spots, and a photo gallery.
Speaking of the remaining extras, there are extended interviews with Linda Kaye and Pat in which they divulge background information on the series development and on-set relationships; and Paul Henning, creator of The Beverly Hillbillies, who relives the glory days of his rural craze.
The photo gallery and sponsor material are cut-and-dried pieces of nostalgia you’ve seen a hundred times before from other releases. They can be fun for the memories they bring, but offer nothing very insightful.
Fans of rural comedy should be delighted with this release. Non-fans – well, this won’t win you over, but I’ve got to ask, what gives? There is still a place for clean, simple comedy, and still a lot we can learn from performers like Edgar Buchanan. So what if it’s not reality. There was a time when entertainment was meant for escape. Petticoat Junction speaks to that time, and that crowd. Here’s hoping