Judge Dennis Prince was hankering for a heaping helping of hospitality but only got these stale vittles.
It's holiday time with the Clampetts, but are the vittles tasty enough to convince you to set a spell? Let's see.
Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) and his kin are getting along just fine in their Ozarks shack. Out hunting one day with Duke, the family dog, Jed accidentally shoots at the ground and uncovers an oil gusher. Before he can say "Wheee doggee," Jed is offered $25 million for his property by the OK Oil Company. With his newfound riches and after some prodding by his worldly cousin, Pearl, widower Jed packs daughter Elly May (Donna Douglas), nephew Jethro Bodine (Max Baer, Jr.), and mother-in-law Daisy "Granny" Moses (Irene Ryan) into their 1921 flatbed and migrates to the posh and perplexing Beverly Hills, CA. Upon arrival, they're corralled by the opportunistic Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), president of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills and greenback go-getter who yearns to get the Clampett's $25 million in his bank's vaults. The naïve newcomers take right kindly to Drysdale's overtures, moving into the mansion next door and ambling through myriad luxurious trappings that confound the Clampetts, if not by the workings of so many newfangled doo-hickies then by the way the local snobs seem so overwrought with the pangs of possession.
Originally airing on September 26, 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies (originally titled The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills in the pilot episode) caught the nation's viewing public off guard, in a downright neighborly sort of way. The show was hackneyed and silly for certain, yet the wise and trusting nature of Jed, the warmth and regard of Elly May (especially towards "critters"), the feigned worldliness of 6th-grade grad'jit Jethro, and the cantankerous caring of Granny warmed the hearts of American viewers. While the critics squarely hated the show, the viewers loved it and subsequently catapulted the show into the coveted number one spot after just three short weeks. Although it was corny and contrived beyond belief, the show spawned a TV trend of "rural adventures" that would ultimately lead to other television favorites such as Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and the backwoods music-comedy revue, Hee-Haw.
In its early seasons (the show ran for a then-unheard-of nine years), The Beverly Hillbillies was aired in black and white and, as presented here, featured a different theme song, a lively pickin' instrumental by bluegrass boys Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, who would ultimately pluck out "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," and y'all know how that one goes. (That theme song, by the way, would go on to become a number-one hit on the country-western charts.) On this new DVD, Christmas with the Beverly Hillbillies, Passport Video churns out another holiday-themed release that might make for a mildly distracting stocking stuffer but not much else. So while we await a truly bona-fide release of this classic television treat (withstanding all manner of Good Times Video offenses), here's another cheap release that's quite crude and never bubblin'. On board, you'll find two episodes from the show's second season:
• In Turkey Day (original air date: 11/27/1963), the Clampetts are hankering to join in the Thanksgiving festivities, Ozarks-style. While the Drysdales had sought to deliver a fatted turkey to serve as the centerpiece of their rich clients' meal, the bird escapes and is befriended by Elly May. She teaches the bird to shake hands, a stunt that prevents Jed from being able to muster up the nerve to dispatch the intended main course.
• In Christmas at the Clampetts (original air date: 12/25/1963), the Drysdales pull out all the stops by lavishing the Clampetts with all the modern conveniences. From televisions to wetsuits to boats, the Drysdales heap it on but good.
The episodes are decent enough but don't have the same ultimate appeal that the later color episodes garner. Still, there is some fun to be had here and the hillbilly high jinks are in constant supply. Unfortunately, the quality offered on this low-dollar disc works hard to undermine the allure of the two episodes here. The image looks as murky as Texas tea, overly dark and seeping with indistinct detail. Seemingly, the source for this disc was some old 16mm prints found out back behind the ceee-ment pond. The audio comes by way of an equally indifferent Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix. It's intelligible but it lacks clarity of separation of dialogue, effects, and score. There are no extras on the disc, so if you pay more than eight bits for this one, you've been taken.
While The Beverly Hillbillies is certainly fun and a landmark achievement in '60s television, this disc does little to rekindle our fondness for the money-bound bumpkins who captured the hearts of a nation for nearly a decade. I say skip it and wait for a real release sure to come along soon. When that happens, well, "ya'll come back now, y'hear?"
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Passport Video
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