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Petticoat Junction - The Official First Season


TITLE: PETTICOAT JUNCTION - THE OFFICIAL FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: December 16, 2008 (CBS DVD)
B&W/1963-1964
MSRP: $40.99
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 38
Running Time: 974 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: approx. 80 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; Closed-captioned
Special Features: Video Introductions for Every Episode; Interviews with Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell; Interview with Paul Henning (1990); Original Sponsor Spots; Photo Gallery


Introduction:

All aboard! The Cannonball is about to leave the station and take you on a ride down to that place we call the Junction... Petticoat Junction! The classic rural sitcom from creator Paul Henning comes to DVD for the first time ever in a season format. The Official First Season contains all 38 episodes from the 1963-1964 season of the series on a five disc set that contains plenty of special features. While nearly half of the episodes contained within this set have been released in public domain releases, as well as MPI’s Ultimate Collection release, this is the first time that all of the episodes have been released on DVD, and these episodes may be “new” to some fans, as the first season has largely been ignored in most syndicated runs of the series.

Petticoat Junction stars Bea Benaderet as Kate Bradley, the owner of the Shady Rest Hotel... where it all happens in the Junction. Benaderet had previously played Cousin Pearl on Paul Henning’s other hit series, The Beverly Hillbillies. But Uncle Joe (played by Edgar Buchanan) somehow manages to have his own ways, as he is “movin’ kinda slow at the Junction,” and creates major problems every now and then. Kate also has three daughters, Billy Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo that help her keep things in line at the Shady Rest, and sometimes help her get out of the problems that happen every now and then. The series ran for seven years on CBS and eventually led the successful spinoff Green Acres (which became an even bigger pop culture phenomenon). So get ready to head on down to the Junction... Petticoat Junction!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The set begins with (what else?) the pilot episode, “Spur Line to Shady Rest,” where the railroad company wants to shut down the Cannonball. Will they succeed, or will we have a series that lasts for seven seasons? Sam Drucker may just help save the Cannonball in “Quick, Hide the Railroad.” In “Please Buy My Violets,” Uncle Joe invests Kate’s savings into a cologne, but what will happen when it doesn’t smell so good? Betty Jo may be the one to win a horseshoe tournament in “The Ringer.” Kate has to teach Bobbie Jo how to attract men in “Kate’s Recipe for Hot Rhubarb.”

In “The Little Train Robbery,” two guys come to the Shady Rest that seem nice, but are they? Kate hires a new employee for the Shady Rest in “Uncle Joe’s Replacement,” so does it mean that Uncle Joe is gone? Everybody has to convince a travel columnist that the Shady Rest has a swimming pool, tennis courts, and ice hockey thanks to one of Uncle Joe’s screw-ups in “A Night at the Hooterville Hilton.” Dennis Hopper guest stars in “Betty Jo and the Beatnik.”

In “My Daughter, the Doctor,” Kate wants Billie Jo to become a doctor. Adam West guest stars. Uncle Joe makes the Shady Rest a “fat farm” in “Last Chance Farm.” The Cannonball may just be sold to an antique collector in “The Very Old Antique.” In “Behind All Silver, There’s a Cloud Lining,” Uncle Joe has a plan to solve a few problems at the Shady Rest--to convince people there is Silver buried in the area!

Rosemary DeCamp guest stars in “Kate and the Manpower Problem,” where the girls are convinced that Kate needs a husband of her own. The girls want to form their own “girl band” in “The lady Bugs.” Kate has a plan to save the Cannonball in “Kate, the Stockholder,” and that is by buying a share of stock in the railroad company and voting out the superintendent. Could it be wedding bells for Uncle Joe? Possibly, in “Kate and the Dowager.”

In “A Millionaire for Kate,” Kate discovers that her high school crush is now a millionaire, but Uncle Joe isn’t buying it. Hayden Rorke guest stars. Everybody has to get a former teacher back to her old form in “The Genghis Keane Story.” Ken Osmond guest stars.


Packaging:

Well, it is CBS DVD, so what do you expect? Basically, we have the standard sized plastic DVD case that has the inserts to hold the discs inside. The artwork is pretty plain and dull, with a very generic cast snapshot, and honestly makes the set LOOK like one of the public domain sets (actually I’ve seen public domain ones with nicer artwork), but I don’t think it will cause an outrage among fans. The set contains five discs (no artwork, of course, other than the gray logo), with eight episodes on the first three discs and seven episodes on the last two discs.

The only thing that surprises me is that the set has 38 episodes and CBS DVD actually kept it as ONE set rather than splitting it into two volumes. Not that I’m complaining, this is how a series should be done on DVD, especially as we are heading into an era where “complete series” sets are hitting the marketplace.


Menu Design and Navigation:

There really isn’t much to the menus. Basically, the main menu has a photo on it and lists all of the episodes on the disc, a Play All Episodes option, and a Special Features option. When you select an episode, you get a secondary menu with the option to play the episode with or without the audio introductions. While there are no scene selection menus, there are chapters at all of the appropriate points within each episode.


Video and Audio Quality:

If you’ve seen The Beverly Hillbillies DVDs which were released a few weeks ago, then you’ll find pretty much the same thing here. The video is pretty crisp and clean, although it could be better. Still, it is a whole lot better than you’ll find on public domain releases or even the MPI release. The biggest issue is grain, but you have to expect that from an older series. The audio is pretty good and clear as well, although it can have the tin-can effect every now and then. Still, I’d say it is better than we should expect. All episodes are closed-captioned.

Now, it is time for the bad news (which actually may not be that bad, but I can’t say for certain). The set contains the famous CBS DVD disclaimer about episodes potentially being edited. It has gotten to the point where we don’t know whether they are using this disclaimer to cover in case they did edit something or if they are snipping things everywhere, but in the case of this set, each episode runs right around 25:40, EXCEPT for the episode “The Courtship of Floyd Smoot,” which runs at 25:20. It is very likely that some music has been replaced in the episodes, not that it probably needed to be replaced, but rather because somebody was too lazy to even check to see if they needed to get clearances on the music.

Unlike The Beverly Hillbillies, the original sponsorship elements, including the closing tags from the sponsors, are not included as part of the episodes on this set. However, you can watch a few of these as part of the special features.


Special Features:

There is a nice selection of special features on the set, beginning with the video introductions. They can be found for EVERY episode on the set (just like on the MPI set). In fact, Linda Kaye Henning (who played Betty Jo), who did the video introductions on the MPI set, does the same thing here, but they are new introductions for this set. This time, Pat Woddell (who played Bobbie Jo) provides some of the video introductions. And on some episodes, both of them provide the introductions. Each introduction runs for approximately a minute.

We have some Original Sponsor Spots (6:46), where we get to see original sponsor tags from a few of the episodes, but what is disappointing about this is the fact that these aren’t included within the episode, on every episode, as they were on The Beverly Hillbillies set. Oh well, a few are better than none.

Next, we have an interview featurette, where Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell are interviewed, talking about their experiences on the series. This is spanned across two discs, on Disc 4 (12:58) and Disc 5 (18:28). These are always fun to watch, although this focuses just on happy times on the set. One very interesting thing addressed here is the fact that the series never really had a pilot, at all. The first episode of the series was the first thing that was EVER filmed for the series. The network had so much confidence that a Paul Henning series would be a success that they didn’t even care about having a pilot!

On Disc 5, we have an interview with Paul Henning from 1990 (12:16). Here, he talks about many things, but in particular, about the creation of Petticoat Junction. This is even introduced by Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell.

Finally, we have a Photo Gallery (3:02) on Disc 5, which shows us many different pictures from the series. Again, we have a video introduction to this gallery by (who else?) Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell.


Final Comments:

I’ve never truly watched this series before, but I’ve always been a fan of the other two rural sitcoms from Paul Henning. It is important to note, right off the bat, that this series isn’t quite as offbeat as those series are, but don’t be mistaken, it is still pretty funny and does have offbeat moments here and there. I’ve found myself enjoying the series much more than I ever thought I did before, and I am anxiously awaiting the second season, whenever that is released. Hopefully the second season will come in a set as good as this one, but WITHOUT any disclaimers about edited episodes. So after you “sit a spell” with The Official Second Season of The Beverly Hillbillies, you should head on down to the Shady Rest for fun with Kate and Uncle Joe!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/02/08

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001E6JC30/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=236958


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