If you are over the age of 25, you have at least probably heard of the popular television shows from the 1960s, like The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Both of those shows were created by Paul Henning. However, those weren’t the only shows created by Henning that became hits in the ’60s. A lesser known, but a very close cousin show sandwiched in between The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres, was Petticoat Junction.
PJ was set on the outskirts of the fictional town of Hooterville. In that town, widow Kate Bradley (Bea Benaderet) runs a hotel called “The Shady Rest.” She’s helped by her three daughters, Billie Jo (Jeannine Riley), Bobbie Jo (Pat Woodell), and Betty Jo (Linda Kaye Henning), and her Uncle Joe Carson (Edgar Buchanan). Sam Drucker (Frank Cady) owns the general store. Charlie Pratt (Smiley Burnette) and Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis) operate a train called “The Cannonball,” which brings visitors into town.
This series had a simple premise. Most of the episodes also almost all followed the same formula. A stranger comes to Hooterville, and poses either a threat to the town’s way of life or seeks to change them with progress and new technology. After staying at the Shady Rest and experiencing the hospitality of the everyone there, they end up deciding they love old, backwards Hooterville. The storylines were definitely weak, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fun episodes during this first season.
You could almost say Petticoat Junction was a cross between Henning’s Hillbillies and Acres. But unlike country people moving to the big city or city people moving to the country, this series was strictly about country people living in the country. All of the characters on this show were extremely likable and that is really why this series lasted for as long as it did. The core cast is very strong, and that really helps viewers overcome the weak writing. But it’s also fun to note all of the guest stars that were famous at the time or would be famous later in their careers. In the first season you will see Adam West (pre-Batman), Ken Osmond (Leave it to Beaver), Roy Roberts (Chinatown), Don Washbrook (Lonelyhearts), Elvia Alman (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Hank Patterson (Attack of the Puppet People), Charles Lane (It’s a Wonderful Life), and most interesting a young Dennis Hopper.
Petticoat Junction is not groundbreaking television. The first season has probably some of the show’s weakest episodes. But for anyone over the age of 45, this series is probably a beloved childhood memory. For 30 minutes, you will watch likable people in silly situations that will probably have you shaking your heard, but also smiling at the same time. If you’re a fan of this series, you have been waiting for the complete first season to come to DVD for some time, so you know what to do. If you are too young to remember Petticoat Junction when it originally aired, it probably doesn’t have enough strong writing to get you into the show now, but your parents will love it so go buy it as a gift for them!
Episode 1 – Spur Line to Shady Rest
The C&FW Railroad’s trouble-shooter Homer Bedloe comes to Hooterville to find out why their branch isn’t connected to the main line.
Episode 2 – Quick, Hide the Railroad
Homer Bedloe of the C&FW Railroad makes the first of many attempts to shut down the Cannonball. Kate decides he can’t close it if he can’t find it, so she hides the train.
Episode 3 – The President Who Came to Dinner
C&FW President, Norman Curtis, journeys to Hooterville to take matters into his own hands as far as dissolving the Cannonball, but becomes enchanted by the people of the valley.
Episode 4 – Is There a Doctor in the Roundhouse?
No one can attend Kate’s Shady Rest Jamboree after Norman Curtis makes the Cannonball inoperative.
Episode 5 – The Courtship of Floyd Smoot
Kate pretends to fall in love with Floyd after his bad experience with a mail-order bride.
Episode 6 – Please Buy My Violets
Joe goes into the cologne business.
Episode 7 – The Ringer
The Shady Rest Horseshoe Tournament rolls around, and Pixley Fats is it’s main contender. He might have a little speed bump though, in the form of the tournament’s first female player, Betty Jo.
Episode 8 – Kate’s Recipe for Hot Rhubarb
It’s time for Bobbie Jo to put down the books and set out to get a significant other.
Episode 9 – The Little Train Robbery
The Cannonball’s bank shipment is the target of two young train robbers.
Episode 10 – Bedloe Strikes Again
Homer Bedloe returns to Hooterville to take another crack at shutting down the Cannonball.
Episode 11 – Uncle Joe’s Replacement
Uncle Joe’s convinced he’s being replaced when Kate hires Herbie Bates to be assistant manager of the hotel.
Episode 12 – Honeymoon Hotel
Uncle Joe’s latest scheme involves turning the Shady Rest into a Honeymooners getaway. But when his status as temporary Justice of the Peace turns out to be invalid, can Kate and the girls keep the couple he “married” busy until Sam Drucker can be found to make their union legal?
Episode 13 – A Night at the Hooterville Hilton
A brochure describing the incomparable Shady Rest Hotel of the future is prematurely mailed to a Hooterville travel columnist.
Episode 14 – Cannonball Christmas
Homer Bedloe plans to stop the Hooterville Cannonball from making its traditional Christmas caroling tour
Episode 15 – Herbie Gets Drafted
Herby Bates, who is sweet on Billie Jo, won’t be seeing much more of her–he’s just been drafted.
Episode 16 – Bobbie Jo and the Beatnik
Bobbie Jo is entranced with poet Alan Landman, a visiting beatnik who is passing through Hooterville.
Episode 17 – My Daughter the Doctor
Billie Jo receives a $500 insurance endowment, which her late father set aside for his first-born to become a doctor. But Billie Jo wants to go to Hollywood to become an actress.
Episode 18 – Hooterville vs. Hollywood
Kate confers with Judge Drucker to see if she can legally prevent Billie Jo from going to Hollywood.
Episode 19 – Visit From a Big Star
A movie-idol wants to hide away from it all at the Shady Rest.
Episode 20 – Last Chance Farm
Uncle Joe tells two plump ladies that Shady Rest is a reducing farm, where their loss is the management’s gain.
Episode 21 – The Very Old Antique
Homer Bedloe returns to Hooterville with a retired railroad tycoon who’s interested in buying the Cannonball
Episode 22 – The Art Game
The art dealer buys one of Uncle Joe’s paintings for its valuable frame, but Uncle Joe thinks he’s on the road to fantastic artistic success.
Episode 23 – Betty Jo’s First Love
Betty Jo has her first crush – but the object of her affections (Orville Miggs) is more interested in tinkering with cars than he is in romance.
Episode 24 -Â Behind All Silver, There’s a Cloud Lining
Uncle Joe tries to bring more guests to Shady Rest–and get his drainage ditch dug for free–by spreading rumors about a silver strike in the area.
Episode 25 – The Talent Contest
Uncle Joe is promoting a talent contest, and he tries to make sure that one of his three nieces wins.
Episode 26 – Kate and the Manpower Problem
An old school chum thinks it’s time Kate was married again, and she tells the girls to round up some prospects.
Episode 27 – The Ladybugs
Uncle Joe decides to cash in on “Beatlemania” by casting his nieces and Sheriff Ragsdale’s daughter in a musical group called “The Ladybugs”.
Episode 28 – The Hooterville Flivverball
Uncle Joe decides to bankrupt the Hooterville Cannonball by starting his own railroad, powered by Orville Miggs’ flivver.
Episode 29 – Kate the Stockholder
Homer Bedloe becomes superintendent of the Hooterville Cannonball. He forces Charley & Floyd to keep to a strict schedule, all in his latest attempt to shut the train line down. It’s up to Kate to foil his plans by buying stock in the C&FW Railroad and speaking out at the stockholders meeting.
Episode 30 – Kate and the Dowager
Socialite Clara Watkins is an important guest at Shady Rest. Unless she recommends the place to her friends, the bank won’t lend Kate any more money.
Episode 31 – Charley Abandons the Cannonball
Everyone seems too busy to spend any time with Charley, so he decides to quit his job as engineer of the Hooterville Cannonball.
Episode 32 – Dog Days at Shady Rest
Railroad President Norman Curtis thinks that his household’s pet basset hound needs a change of scenery, so he sends the dog off to Shady Rest.
Episode 33 – A Millionaire for Kate
Kate Bradley is visited by an old schoolmate who’s now a millionaire, but Uncle Joe has him pegged as a con artist.
Episode 34 – Bedloe and Son
Homer Bedloe returns to Hooterville with his son, Homer Junior, who is as hateful and devious as his father.
Episode 35 – Local Girl Makes Good
Business executive Mary Jane Hastings returns home to Hooterville and impresses everyone with her administrative ability, particularly her handling of men.
Episode 36 – Cave Woman
Shady Rest would stand a better chance of being selected as the site of the big convention if Kate were around, but she’s trapped in a cave-in.
Episode 37 – Kate Flat on Her Back
Kate is still trying to get Shady Rest chosen as the site for a big convention, but a sprained ankle has incapacitated her and the job of cornering the convention is left to Uncle Joe and the daughters
Episode 38 – The Genghis Keane Story
When Adelaide “Genghis” Keane returns from Europe, Kate is surprised to find that the elderly schoolteacher is no longer the tyrannical disciplinarian she used to be.
The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is good for a 1960s television show. It could have been a little better, but no major problems for its age.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. Pretty standard quality for a TV show that is this old. The dialogue comes out crisp and clear with no major problems.
Video Introductions –
For about a minute, there is a introduction to each episode on this set. Linda Kaye Henning (who played Betty Jo), and Pat Woddell (who played Bobbie Jo) provide the video introductions. They discuss filming certain episodes, and although they are short, they are pretty interesting to hear.
Original Sponsor Spots –
This is 7 minutes worth of the original sponsor tags from a few of the episodes. These should be at the end of the episodes, but really this is only for die-hard fans. These are essentially just commercials.
Interviews with Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell –
These total 32 minutes. Former cast members, Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell talk about their experiences on the series. They mainly focus on the happy times on the set, but there is some interesting information about the show in these interviews.
Interview with Paul Henning (1990) –
This is a 12 minute interview with creator Paul Henning from 1990. He talks mainly about creating the series, but always good to hear the creator’s comments on a classic show. This is introduced by Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell as well.
Photo Gallery –
A 3 minute slideshow style photo gallery is here as well, with an option to hear an introduction from Linda Kaye Henning and Pat Woodell.
Petticoat Junction is not as outrageously funny as The Beverly Hillbillies or Green Acres, but fans of those shows will probably no doubt enjoy this show. The first season is not the best introduction to this show, since the writing is poor. But that won’t stop fans of this show from running out and getting this set, though, as it is the first time the complete first season is on DVD. If you haven’t seen this show, and like classic sitcoms, give it a rental but wait until future seasons are released.
Paramount Home Entertainment presents Petticoat Junction: Season One. Created by Paul Henning. Starring Bea Benadaret, Jeannine Riley, Pat Woodell, Linda Kaye Henning, and Edgar Buchanan. Running time: 974 minutes. NOT RATED. Released on DVD: December 16, 2008.
Available at Amazon.com