'The Beverly Hillbillies: Official Fourth Season'
(Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Max Baer Jr., Donna Douglas, Raymond Bailey, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2013 / CBS Studios)
Overview: The ultimate fish-out-of-water story. The Clampetts strike it rich in oil and move from their mountain cabin to the upscale neighborhood of Beverly Hills. They're in culture shock as much as their neighbors.
DVD Verdict: If you were not aware, 'The Beverly Hillbillies' is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for nine seasons on CBS from 1962 to 1971, starring Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, and Max Baer, Jr.
The series is about a poor backwoods family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land. A Filmways production created by writer Paul Henning, it is the first in a genre of "fish out of water" themed television shows, and was followed by other Henning-inspired country-cousin series on CBS.
In 1963, Henning introduced Petticoat Junction, and in 1965 he reversed the rags to riches model for Green Acres. The show paved the way for later culture-conflict programs such as The Jeffersons, McCloud, The Nanny, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Doc. Panned by many entertainment critics of its time, it quickly became a huge ratings success for most of its nine-year run on CBS.
The Hillbillies themselves were Buddy Ebsen as the widowed patriarch Jed "J.D." Clampett; Irene Ryan as his ornery mother-in-law, Daisy May "Granny" Moses; Donna Douglas as his curvaceous and beautiful, yet tomboyish daughter Elly May Clampett; and Max Baer, Jr. as Jethro, the brawny, half-witted son of his cousin Pearl Bodine. Pearl (played by Bea Benaderet) appeared in most of the first season episodes, as did Jethro's twin sister Jethrine, played by Baer in drag, using Linda Kaye Henning's voiceover. Pearl was the relative who prodded Jed to move to California, after being told his modest property could yield $25 million.
The supporting cast featured Raymond Bailey as Jed's greedy, unscrupulous banker Milburn Drysdale; Harriet E. MacGibbon as Drysdale's ostentatious wife Margaret Drysdale; and Nancy Kulp as "Miss" Jane Hathaway, Drysdale's scholarly, "plain Jane" secretary, who occasionally pined for the clueless Jethro.
The creators of the series seemed to place the Beverly Hillbillies as having previously lived somewhere in a mountainous area of the Southern US, yet beyond this, consistent information about specifically which part of the South they were from is not available. While Granny frequently mentioned that she was from Tennessee, the series never specified the state from which the Clampetts moved to California. Various, sometimes conflicting clues can be found in certain episodes as to where the Beverly Hillbillies might have come from.
This official fourth season continues to show us their good fortune and kind hearts winning out episode after episode. Oh, and did you also know that the show's theme song, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett", was written by producer and writer Paul Henning and originally performed by bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs. The song was sung by Jerry Scoggins (backed by Flatt and Scruggs) over the opening and end credits of each episode. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.