TITLE: PETTICOAT JUNCTION - THE OFFICIAL SECOND SEASON
DVD Release Date: July 7, 2009 (CBS DVD)
B&W / 1964-1965
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 36
Running Time: 919 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: approx. 60 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English Subtitles
Special Features: Video Introductions by Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell (every episode); Interview with Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell; Photo Gallery
All aboard! It is time to come and ride the little train that is rolling down the tracks to the junction... Petticoat Junction! The Official Second Season brings all 36 episodes of the second season of the rural sitcom about the Shady Rest Hotel, located along the route of the Cannonball somewhere between Pixley and Hooterville. Kate Bradley, her three daughters, and Uncle Joe all run the Shady Rest, but it seems that they are more focused on their own problems than running the hotel, from Kate dealing with the problems her daughters are having growing up to Uncle Joe's get-rich-quick schemes to the plight of the townsfolk. But the problems are rarely, if ever, serious, and are all light-hearted issues that are invariably humorous.
The second season is the final season of the series that is presented in black and white, and also the final season that contains all of the original cast members (the characters of Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo were played by different actresses beginning in the third season). The second season also introduced us to the dog that lives at the Shady Rest, which actually doesn't have a name aside from "boy" or "dog." This season has remained mostly unaired in syndication (with most syndication packages including only the color episodes), and unlike the first season, none of the episodes of this season have fallen into public domain, therefore many of the episodes on this set will be unfamiliar to many fans of the series. So, without further adieu, let's get moving on down to the junction!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Uncle Joe is in love with a younger woman in "Have Library, Will Travel," but Kate knows he is too old for her, and must find a way to let him know. Homer Bedloe (Charles Lane) returns to Hooterville in another attempt to destroy the Cannonball in "The Umquaw Strip." Could the dog become a celebrity? Maybe, in "My Dog, the Actor." Uncle Joe gets the idea to turn the Shady Rest into a hunting lodge in "The Great Buffalo Hunt," but what'll happen when his buffalo escapes?
Homer Bedloe needs a little therapy after having nightmares about the Cannonball in "Bedloe's Nightmare." Is Billie Jo going to elope? Find out in "Mother of the Bride." The U.S. Army faces an enemy that they can't overcome in "The Lost Patrol," and that enemy happens to be three girls with the last name Bradley. Uncle Joe tells a tale of a haunted hotel in "The Curse of Chester W. Farnsworth," but when he tells it to a traveling salesman, the story travels and scares guests away from the hotel. How will the Shady Rest attract guests?
Billie Jo becomes a secretary to a famous (banned) writer in "Billie Jo's First Job, but Kate is worried that she is being more than just a secretary to him. Uncle Joe becomes Mr. Bell when he starts his own phone company in "A Matter of Communication." There has been a prison break near Hooterville, and everybody is on edge, especially when they show up at the Shady Rest, in "The Hooterville Crime Wave." The Cannonball is temporarily decommissioned in order to clear the way for a bird nest in "For the Birds," but will Homer Bedloe approve? Uncle Joe decides to make Sam Drucker's store more like a supermarket in "Modern Merchandising," but all goes wrong when he orders more food than Hooterville could ever eat.
In "The Borderline Story," the Shady Rest and the Bradley family faces an identity crisis when it is discovered that the Shady Rest is located in both Hooterville and Pixley. Uncle Joe sells the hotel as stock in "The Shady Rest Hotel Corporation." Bedloe has returned to foreclose on the Shady Rest when he takes part ownership in the bank in "Bedloe's Most Fiendish Scheme." But taking over the Shady Rest may only be the beginning for Bedloe as we find out in "Bedloe Gets His Comeuppance." In "The Mayor of Hooterville," Uncle Joe wants to run for mayor, but the town is taking a larger interest in another candidate--Kate.
The dog goes to court for murder in "The Chicken Killer," but don't worry, Arnold the pig will testify on his behalf. The girls all want to leave home in "Why Girls Leave Home," but can Kate afford to let all of them fulfill their dreams? Uncle Joe wants to impress a food critic in "There's No Stove Like an Old Stove," but as usual, his plan backfires. Uncle Joe thinks he has found the cure for baldness in "The Hairbrained Scheme," but will goat milk really cure baldness? The season ends with "There's No Biz With Show Biz," where a traveling circus comes through town and spends two weeks at the Shady Rest. How will they get along with the Bradleys?
First, I should say that this is a great set overall, so it would be foolish to worry about packaging that isn't spectacular. With that being said, the packaging for this set isn't all that impressive. It is basically the standard CBS DVD style artwork with very cheap looking artwork (which is honestly a negative thing, as it may cause some unknowing fans to dismiss the set as another public domain DVD set). The set uses the standard Amaray style DVD case that most (okay, every) CBS DVD release has been using lately. The cover art has a color cast photo with a train in the background that has the series title imprinted upon it. Inside the case, we have the discs and a listing of every episode, along with a description and original airdates. There are five discs, with each one having the standard plain gray non-existent artwork with the series title on each disc. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-14, Disc 3 contains episodes 15-21, Disc 4 contains episodes 22-29, and Disc 5 contains episodes 30-36 as well as the bonus features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very bland and boring, but do serve their purpose. Honestly, they look like menus that you would find on one of the public domain releases of the series, with cheap graphics and a font for the series title that even looks cheap. The main menu is silent and lists all of the episodes, as well as a Play All Episodes and Special Features option. When you select an episode, you get a second menu that gives you the option of playing the episode with or without the video introduction. There honestly isn't anything else to say about the menus, at all. While there are no scene selection menus, chapters are placed at all of the appropriate places within each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
If you've seen the previous Petticoat Junction set and/or the sets of The Beverly Hillbillies that CBS DVD has released, then you will have a good idea as to how these episodes look on DVD--basically, they look better than you've probably ever seen them before. They did a very nice job with restoring the episodes, and aside from minor grain issues and audio levels that are a little low, these episodes look and sound great. Of course, it is a lot easier to clean up black and white episodes than color episodes, so it'll be interesting to see how the episodes from the seasons that were in color look when those arrive on DVD. I'm hoping for the best. Each episode is presented in Dolby Digital Mono (you couldn't even expect stereo for a series this old), with closed-captioning on each episode.
As far as those nasty disclaimers that CBS DVD puts on every package, you will only find one on this one, which states "some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." I believe that this is a moot point on this set, however. As far as I can tell, every episode appears to be unedited, although one episode, "The Hairbrained Scheme," runs about a minute shorter than the rest. I don't know necessarily that anything is missing, but for an episode to run a minute shorter does raise some suspicions. However, I will give the producers of the DVD set the benefit of the doubt. There are no music replacements to be found. My guess is that the edits that this refers to would be the removal of original sponsorship elements (which were actually left intact for the CBS DVD releases of sister series The Beverly Hillbillies), so this shouldn't be a major deal to most fans. Each episode runs around 25 to 26 minutes. Exact runtimes are as follows:
1. Betty Jo's Dog (25:38)
2. Race Against the Stork (25:30)
3. Have Library, Will Travel (25:39)
4. The Umquaw Strip (25:39)
5. As Hooterville Goes (25:40)
6. My Dog, the Actor (25:40)
7. The Great Buffalo Hunt (25:35)
8. Betty Jo's Pen Pal (25:31)
9. Bedloe's Nightmare (25:40)
10. Kate's Bachelor Butter (25:39)
11. Mother of the Bride (25:26)
12. The Lost Patrol (25:41)
13. Smoke Eaters (25:31)
14. The Curse of Chester W. Farnsworth (25:39)
15. There's No Flame Like an Old Flame (25:39)
16. Billie Jo's First Job (25:43)
17. A Matter of Communication (25:31)
18. Kate Bradley, Girl Volunteer (25:38)
19. The Hooterville Crime Wave (25:19)
20. For The Birds (25:36)
21. Modern Merchandising (25:40)
22. A Visit From the Governor (25:29)
23. A Borderline Story (25:31)
24. The Shady Rest Hotel Corporation (25:43)
25. A Tale of Two Dogs (25:38)
26. The Black Box (25:38)
27. Bedloe's Most Fiendish Scheme (25:42)
28. Bedloe Gets His Comeuppance (25:31)
29. The Mayor of Hooterville (25:41)
30. Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Jinx (25:39)
31. The Chicken Killer (25:39)
32. Why Girls Leave Home (25:45)
33. There's No Stove Like an Old Stove (25:33)
34. The Brontosaurus Caper (25:42)
35. The Hairbrained Scheme (24:38)
36. There's No Biz With Show Biz (25:39)
The set has only a few special features, but they are also very nice special features, the most prominent being episodic introductions. For each and every episode on the set, there is a brief (30 seconds to one minute) introduction by either Pat Woodell, Linda Kay Henning, or both of them. These are very insightful introductions that tell us what to expect from each episode and give us a brief story behind the episode, along with trivia relating to the episode and mentions of specific guest stars. These truly are the best introductions that I've ever seen for any series on DVD.
If you don't get enough from Pat Woodell and Linda Kaye Henning from the episode introductions, though, then you have another alternative. You can check out the extended interview (38:06) on Disc 5 where they go into greater depth about the series and their experience on the series. It would have been nice to have others on this interview as well, but at the same time, they both seem to be incredibly knowledgeable about the series and have interesting stories to tell. It is very refreshing to see celebrities that weren't the main star of a series have such passion for their work on a series, and it seems as if they really enjoyed their time working on the series.
Finally, we have a photo gallery on Disc 5, which allows you to go through several pictures from the series (particularly the second season) on the TV screen. This lasts for about a minute, and the theme song plays in the background. There isn't really anything out of the ordinary here, but fans will appreciate this.
What disappoints me is the lack of original sponsor openings and closings on this set. The Beverly Hillbillies DVD sets have included these, and I would think that they would have been preserved just the same for this series, but they are not included. Still, this is only a minor issue, and doesn't affect the quality of the DVD set or episodes--it is just a minor enhancement that fans would have certainly enjoyed.
I am honestly surprised that we got another "untainted" set of Petticoat Junction, complete with special features, given the track record of CBS DVD. It is interesting how one company can put out sets that are both the greatest thing on DVD, as well as other sets that are a complete disaster (in some cases putting out both extremes for different seasons of the same series, as is what happened with The Odd Couple), but luckily, this set is one of those shining examples of "good TV on DVD." It is just such a shame that the packaging and menus are very cheap looking. Still, those are minor issues in comparison with the big picture--the fact that this the episodes and special features on this set are of great quality. Hopefully, CBS DVD will continue to release this series and continue to do such a great job, although I highly doubt that Pat Woodell will be involved in any of the future DVD sets as she does not appear in any episodes after this season.
Not only are these episodes new to me, but the series is new to me as well. I've always been a fan of the other two related rural sitcoms, Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies, but I've never really watched this series until receiving the DVDs. It isn't quite the same as the other two, as it is more mundane and "realistic" than they are, but that makes it enjoyable in its own way. It seems to focus a lot more on humorous plot development than a lot of humorous events that occur as a result of the overall plot. Fans of rural sitcoms will really love this series, as well as fans of classic TV in general. But you'd better board the train now, because it is about to head to the junction... Petticoat Junction!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 06/27/09
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