“Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed. Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shootin’ at some food and up from the ground comes a bubblin’ crude. Oil that is… Black Gold…Texas Tea…”
Who doesn’t remember the Clampetts, those lovable Beverly Hillbillies? The show has been revived in a film, rap songs, and a Weird Al parody of Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing. Terms like cement pond have lingered in our pop culture. The song was a genuine Billboard hit at the time and is still instantly recognizable some 40 plus years after the show aired.
Jed Clampett (Ebsen) was that “poor mountaineer. He was a kindhearted elder gentleman with back hills sensibilities. He wasn’t used to having all that money, and it never really meant anything to him. He just wanted to care for his extended family. He was easy prey to swindlers and con men because he always took other folks at their word. He particularly trusted Mr. Drysdale (Bailey) who was his banker and next door neighbor. Drysdale didn’t particularly like the Clampetts and hated having them as neighbors, but he did like having Jed’s millions in his bank, so he acted friendly and did everything he could to “civilize” the family. He was aided in his schemes by his bank assistant Jane Hathaway (Culp). She was a skinny little thing who often acted as an intermediary between Drysdale and the Clampetts. Her heart was most often in the right place, and she was infatuated with Jed’s nephew Jethro (Baer, Jr.). Jethro was all brawn and very little brains with an endless appetite. He was always falling for one scheme after another, fancying himself the street-wise city folk. Elly Mae (Douglas) was Jed’s attractive niece with a fondness for animals. She kept a veritable zoo at the Clampett’s Beverly Hills mansion. There were ducks and beaver in the swimming pool, or cement pond as they referred to it. Raccoons, possums, and even skunks populated the yard, all cared for by Elly Mae. Often shows would center on Granny (Ryan) trying to marry Elly Mae off. Granny was the matriarch of the family and did the cooking, cleaning, and moonshine makin’ for the family. She was ornery and not near as trusting as the rest of the family. She was the only one suspicious of Mr. Drysdale’s motives, and he was always trying to win her over.
The third season hits comedy gold with some of the funniest episodes in the show’s nearly decade history. Jed thinks about getting into the movie business in Jed Becomes A Movie Mogul. When he sees an actor dressed up for a production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he thinks that’s really the way the feller looks. When the movie idea doesn’t fly, Drysdale comes up with the idea of ripping down the studio and creating Clampett City in the next episode. In a rare move for this show, the first four episodes of the season would continue this storyline. In fact the entire season would touch upon Jed’s ownership of Mammoth Pictures and Jethro wanting to be a James Bond style secret agent, but not in the movies, in real life. There are some unrelated gems to be found as well. Jed doesn’t quite understand what an honorary doctorate is after a college bestows one upon him in Doctor Jed Clampett. Now Granny’s jealous and wants to be a doctor as well. The Clampetts turn the mansion into a boarding house in the hilarious The Boarder. The problem is that the Drysdale’s new butler has come there instead and thinks the Clampetts are his staff that now needed to be cultured and trained to serve. There’s plenty of comedy to be had Hillbilly style in the season 3 release.
Each episode of The Beverly Hillbillies is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. The series was shot in black and white. The transfer is actually a pretty good effort. There’s still plenty of dirt and scratches however. We’re talking an almost 50 year old sit-com, so the greatest care wasn’t taken with these masters. The quality does appear to improve with later episodes, and I have hope for coming seasons.
The Dolby Digital Mono track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation.
Original Sponsor Intro and Endings: This was a nice touch. You have the option of watching each episode with or without these historical gems. If you decide to watch them, you’ll hear an extra verse of the theme song in the intro talking about the show’s sponsor, often Corn Flakes. At the end of each episode and additional short scene was played out with the characters extolling the virtues of said product.
This is one of those comedy shows that’s so plain and simple it doesn’t sound like it could endure for as long as it has. The truth is that The Beverly Hillbillies have wormed their way so much into the popular culture that we’ll be referencing those lovable rednecks for a long time to come. What better way to make sure you’re caught up and in on the joke, than to watch these early episodes in these season sets from Paramount? “That’s what I thought, until they put me in that white doctor’s coat. The crazy, dern, fool thing had sleeves that tied in the back.”