DVD review: Full first season of ‘Petticoat Junction’ comes to disc at last

In the ’60s, when small-town or better yet rural Americana ruled sitcoms from The Andy Griffith Show to Green Acres, Petticoat Junction was a “crossover” show which was tied to the latter as well as to  The Beverly Hillbillies. Characters from Junction often appeared on Green Acres, which was set in the same neck of the woods, and star Bea Benaderet had been a semi-regular on early Hillbillies, albeit in a different role. All three shows were created by Paul Henning, who also wrote and produced the late ’50s Bob Cummings Show, aka Love That Bob, one of the zaniest and even bawdiest sitcoms of its era.

Though Junction was a popular series which ran for seven seasons (1963-70), it faded a bit in syndication, unlike so many shows which gain new life. That’s largely because the series’ fine first two seasons in black and white weren’t included in the syndicated package.

Now fans finally get a chance to see them again via CBS/Paramount’s release of Petticoat Junction: The Official First Season, which has all 38 episodes of that year, unlike MPI’s previous Petticoat Junction Ultimate Collection, which had just 20 of them. The new full first season is available starting Tuesday.

It features the quaint denizens of the Shady Rest Hotel, just off the Hootervile Cannonball’s train line. Owner Kate (Benaderet) had three pretty– and pretty innocent — daughters (including Henning’s daughter Linda) and a roguish Uncle Joe (Edgar Buchanan). As visitors slipped in and out, gentle comic mayhem ensued.

First season guest stars included Adam West as a young doctor and Dennis Hopper as an annoying beatnik/poet wannabe with delusions of profundity. He, of course, turns out to be no more rebellious than a picnic, but in just a few more years Hopper would play the epitome of ’60s rebelliousness as a biker in Easy Rider — and now he’s doing TV ads talking about comfortable retirement. How times change — but at least he survived.

Petticoat Junction, too, survives thanks to this full first season, which includes many extras, among them intros by Linda Kaye Henning and TV sister Pat Woodell — who also do interviews — and original sponsor spots. Call it corny or call it quaint, but for troubled times, Petticoat Junction is a breath of fresh air.



One Response to “DVD review: Full first season of ‘Petticoat Junction’ comes to disc at last”

  1. V.E.G. Says:

    Bea Benadaret is of Turkish/Sephardic Jewish and Irish descent. Her son is Jack Bannon.

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