TITLE: PETTICOAT JUNCTION - ULTIMATE COLLECTION
DVD Release Date: August 30, 2005 (MPI Home Video)
Black & White
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 20
Running Time: Approx. 11 hours
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English subtitles
• New Episode Introductions with Linda Kaye Henning
• Original Sponsor Commercials with Cast
• Network Promo
• Documentary: The History of Hooterville
• Bea Benadaret on Hollywood Talent Scouts with Art Linkletter (04/11/66)
Return to Hooterville and "Come ride the little train that is rolling down the track to the
junction. Forget about your cares, it is time to relax at the junction..."
The long-running television classic Petticoat Junction (CBS-TV, 1963-1970) was
one the most successful and beloved situation comedies of the 1960s. Created
by Paul Henning, the mastermind behind The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction
ranked as the fourth-highest rated series during its debut season.
Set in the folksy farming community of Hooterville, Petticoat Junction centers
on Kate Bradley, a widow who runs the quaint Shady Rest Hotel with her beautiful
daughters - Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo - along with her uncle, Joe Carson.
Sam Drucker owns the town's general store while Charlie Pratt and Floyd Smoot
operate the Cannonball, a small train that rolls through the valley and brings
a host of interesting visitors and humorous mishaps to the Shady Rest.
This Ultimate Collection features 20 rare and restored episodes from the show's
first year, complete with the original theme song plus all-new, trivia-packed introductions
by actress Linda Kaye Henning (Betty Jo Bradley) and a wealth of other extras.
Episodes Included / Notable Guest Stars:
Petticoat Junction premiered on September 24, 1963 on CBS. The show would run
for 7 successful seasons. 74 episodes (or 64 depending on the source you are looking at)
were produced during the first two seasons, which aired in black & white. Starting with season 3, the remaining
148 episodes were broadcast in color.
The first 2 seasons of black & white episodes are very hard to find and seldom seen. These
early episodes have rarely, if ever, been shown in syndication. Some were released
by Columbia House a few years ago. TV Land has aired only one or two of the black
& white episodes.
This set comprises 20 episodes from the first season. It is the first 20 episodes
of the series - with one exception. The episode "Cannonball Christmas" (12/24/63) is
not included. This episode will be available on the The Beverly Hillbillies/Petticoat
Junction Christmas Collection, which is due to be released on October 25th, 2005.
Here are the episodes included on this Ultimate Collection:
1. Spur Line To Shady Rest (09/24/63), 2. Quick, Hide The Railroad (10/01/63),
3. The President Who Came To Dinner (10/08/63), 4. Is There A Doctor In The Roadhouse? (10/15/63),
5. The Courtship of Floyd Smoot (10/22/63), 6. Pleae Buy My Violets (10/29/63),
7. The Ringer (11/15/63), 8. Kate's Recipe For Hot Rhubarb (11/12/63), 9.
The Little Train Robbery (11/19/63), 10. Bedloe Strikes Again (11/26/63),
11. Uncle Joe's Replacement (12/03/63), 12. Honeymoon Hotel (12/10/63),
13. A Night At The Hooterville Hilton (12/17/63), 15. Herbie Gets Drafted (12/31/63),
16. Bobbie Joe and The Beatnik (01/07/64), 17. My Daughter, The Doctor (01/14/64),
18. Hooterville vs. Hollywood (01/21/64), 19. Visit From A Big Star (01/28/64),
20. Last Chance Farm (02/04/64), 21. The Very Old Antique (02/11/64)
There were quite a few character actors that appeared in the episodes on this set.
Legendary character actor Charles Lane had a re-curring role as Homer Bedloe. Roy Roberts
appeared in the first season as Norman Curtis.
John Hoyt ("Gimme A Break") guest starred as John Fisher in "Bedloe Strikes Again."
Dennis Hopper appeared as Alan Landman in "Bobbie Joe and The Beatnik." Adam
West ("Batman") made appearances as Dr. Clayton Harris in "My Daughter, The Doctor"
and "Hooterville vs. Hollywood." Dick Patterson ("Grease") played Mr. Cassidy
in "The Very Old Antique."
The cover art has a color photo of Linda Kaye Henning (Betty Jo),
Pat Woodell (Bobbie Jo), Jeannine Riley (Billie Jo), and Bea Benadaret (Kate).
The Petticoat Junction title is at the top in it's familiar font with a train in
the background. The set comes in an Amaray movie-style DVD case. The back
of the case has 5 small photos and gives a summary of the set along with
a listing of the bonus features. The inside of the case has one holder that has
a disc on each side with the third disc on the back panel. Basically, you don't
have to remove one disc to get another disc out. Disc 1 has 7 episodes
with a photo of Bea Benadaret and Edgar Buchanan with the train in the background.
Disc 2 contains 7 episodes has photos of Jeannine Riley, Pat Woodell, Linda
Kaye Henning, and Bea Benadaret with the house in the background. Disc 3 contains
6 episodes and the bonus features. Rufe Davis and Smiley Burnette are featured
on the disc with the Cannonball in the background.
There is also a 4-page booklet included that lists the episodes with their
original airdates by disc. The front has a photo of the girls with Kate and the
back has a sepia colored photo of the main cast. There are 4 additional color photos
of the cast inside the booklet. MPI Home Video also includes their 2005 DVD Catalog List.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very nicely designed and simple to use. The ending
instrumental theme song can be heard in the background. The same
photo that is used as the cover art is featured on all of the main menus.
Some various clips of the train are shown in the upper left hand corner
of the screen. Each disc has options for 'Play All Episodes,' 'Episode
Selections,' and 'Subtitles.' The fourth disc contains the Bonus Features option.
The Play All button will play all the episodes on the disc including
the new introductions by Linda Kaye Henning. When you select Episode Selections,
it takes you to another menu with still images from each episode. You have
the option to play the episode with the intro by Ms. Henning or you can just start the episode
from the opening credits. The subtitles menu, which allows you to turn
on English subtitles, features a sepia colored photo
of the cast from the first season.
I have a few minor issues when playing the episodes. First, there are
no chapter stops within the episodes. You can skip the intro by Linda Kaye Henning,
but you can't skip the theme song (which is great so I really don't know why you
wouldn't want to hear it) or jump to other scenes. The skip button will
just take you to the end of the episode. Secondly, whenever you finish an episode,
the next episode will automatically start with the intro by Linda Kaye.
It is difficult to get the time of each individual episode as they include
the intros in their total, plus they keep a running total so the first disc
runs 3 hours, 20 minutes.
Video and Audio Quality:
On the packaging, they say that these 20 episodes have been restored. The show is
over 40 years old now so I'm sure they tried to improve the quality as much as
possible. The episodes are very watchable in my opinion. There is some dust and debris,
black lines, and other video problems here and there. I know Columbia House released
some of the black & white episodes on VHS a few years ago, but I don't have any
tapes to compare them. I can't compare them with what TV Land aired since
they never aired any! All episodes appear to be unedited, running around 25 1/2
minutes in length. The original first season theme song, sung by Curt Massey, is included
on all of these episodes. Most of the ending credits had a sponsor like Ivory or
Tide super-imposed on them. One episode even featured a short promo for the National
Safety Council at the end. For the closing logo enthusiasts, they have the 'A
Filmways Presentation' logo with various voiceovers followed by one for the
CBS Television Network.
The audio quality was adequate. It's your typical mono track from the 1960's.
Some episodes have a slight buzz in them. The volume seemed a bit low, but that
can be easily made higher. It doesn't look like closed-captioning is available
on this set, but there is an option to turn on English subtitles.
I think most fans would have just been happy to see these very rare episodes. A nice
array of bonus features adds value and enjoyment to this set. Here is a breakdown:
New Episode Introductions with Linda Kaye Henning: She gives 2-5 minute
introductions for the episodes on the set. She is in her early 60's now and
is very youthful looking. With a fireplace in the backgroud, she warmly shares
her remembrances of the show. She appears in atleast 3 different outfits for variety.
I was amazed at all the interesting trivia facts about the show and cast she mentioned.
Among the topics she discusses: the development of the show, the theme song composer
and singer Curt Massey, the main cast members and the many guest character actors,
the real train and the mock-up train they used, and various topics on the production
of each episode. I would say even the die-hard Petticoat Junction fan would
learn something new from these intros. Can you name the only person to play
the same character on 3 different sitcoms at the same time? Answer at the end of this section.
Original Sponsor Commercials with Cast: Linda Kaye Henning gives a short introduction.
She mentions that during the first 2 years or so of the show, Procter & Gamble
was their primary sponsor. As part of their contracts, the cast members agreed
to appear in character in various commercials. There are a total of 8 commercials
included for Ivory Soap and Tide. Various combinations of the cast were
in each one. (9:46 total - 1:22 intro by Linda Kaye Henning and 8:24 worth
Network Promo - This is a promo from season 3 or after. The color looks badly
faded, but it is fun to watch. It promotes the show on CBS on Tuesday nights. (1:02)
Documentary: The History of Hooterville - This documentary features interviews
with Linda Kaye Henning, Paul Henning (archived), Charles Lane, Frank Cady,
Shirley Mitchell, Gunilla Hutton, Lori Saunders, and Mike Minor. The three
Bradley girls look great. I can't believe they are all in their 60's.
Who knew Charles Lane was still living? He turned 100 this year and looks
to be in good health. Frank Cady, who will be 90 later this year, looks quite healthy
and has a strong voice. I could close my eyes and his voice still sounds just like
All kinds of topics are covered in this bonus feature. Linda Kaye
Henning and her father Paul (in an older interview) talk about the development
of the show and how various actors were cast. CBS wanted another series from him
after the success of The Beverly Hillbillies. He developed the show for
Bea Benadaret, who he thought deserved her own series. They talk about the dog,
who's real name was Higgins and later played Benji in that movie, that joined
the cast in the second season. Then they discuss the development of Green Acres,
which was created by Jay Summers and executive produced by Paul Henning. Many
character actors guest starred on Petticoat Junction and they are mentioned. Shirley Mitchell, who
played Cousin Mae, talks about her time on the series. Jeannine Riley and Pat Woodell
left after the 2nd season, and the reasons for their departure are discussed. Starting in the 3rd
season, the show was broadcast in color and Gunilla Hutton and Lori Saunders were added to the cast
as Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo. Gunilla talks about why she left the series
after just one season. Meredith MacRae would take
over the role of Billie Jo starting in 1966. Mike Minor, who played Steve Elliott,
discusses his time on the show. First, he was the boyfriend of Billie Jo and
the following season he dated Betty Jo. Linda Kaye talks about her wedding dress
and how she got married on the show in 1967 and then married Mike Minor in 1968.
Bea Benadaret passed away in October 1968. In the 6th season, June Lockhart joined the cast as Dr. Janet Craig.
After 7 seasons, Petticoat Junction was canceled despite still being in the top 10.
It was one of many rural comedies that got canceled around that time. Finally,
they discuss the enduring popularity of the show. The closing credits have
an 'In Memory' section for the cast members that have passed away. Many photos
are featured throughout the feature. Overall,
this was a well-produced special that touched on many different topics. The cast
seems to have many warm remembrances of their time on the show. The documentary runs
44 minutes, 37 seconds.
Cast Interview - This is a short clip of Hollywood Talent Scouts hosted by
Art Linkletter on April 11, 1966. Bea Benadaret is interviewed and she talks
about how the show got developed. This run 3 minutes, 4 seconds.
Trivia answer: Frank Cady played Sam Drucker on The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres,
and Petticoat Junction.
This set was authorized by the estate of Creator Paul Henning. Sadly, Mr. Henning
passed away earlier this year at the age of 93. I'm sure he would have been very proud
of it, if he didn't have the opportunity to view the final product.
The first two seasons of the show have apparently
never or very rarely been shown in syndication, so these episodes are very rare and will
be a treat for anybody who hasn't seen them. Some fans may question why
they didn't just release the whole complete first season. The first season
had 38 episodes so maybe they are planning a second volume for a future release
if this set generates interest. This
set is affordably priced and offers good value. I really enjoyed the bonus features and I can tell a lot of time and effort
went into putting them together. They definitely improved my viewing experience and
gave me a lot of good background
information and interesting trivia.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 08/17/05.
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