THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES:
Come and listen to a story
'bout a man named Jed
As I stated in my review of the PETTICOAT JUNCTION ULTIMATE COLLECTION, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, PETTICOAT JUNCTION and GREEN ACRES, are at the top the list of favorite sitcoms from my boob tube addicted youth. And while reruns of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES have been become more difficult to see as the decades have progressed, there has been the occasional sleepless night that has been made much brighter by visiting with the Clampett clan in the wee hours, where their reruns tend to be relegated these days. What I continue to love about THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES is the show’s innocent charm and down-home sense of humor that continues to make me laugh to this day. THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES is simplicity at its best, week after week the show took its fish out of water premise and made us all laugh the things we take for grated in our day-to-day lives.
Created by Paul Henning, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES was one of the biggest hits of the 1960s and ran for nine seasons. For anyone not familiar with THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, the basic premise of the show finds a simple Ozark denizen named Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) sudden wealthy when oil is discovered on his property. On the advise of his kinfolk, Jed moves away from the Ozarks to the sunny climes of California- Beverly Hills more specifically, where his banker sets him up in a luxurious Mansion. Transplanted along with Jed to this new location and new surroundings are Jed’s Mother-in-Law Daisy Mae Moses AKA Granny (Irene Ryan), his daughter Elly May Clampett (Donna Douglas) and his nephew Jethro Bodine (Max Baer Jr.). Assisting the Clampetts in their transition from a one-room shack in the middle of no place to living in a stately Mansion in Beverly Hills are (the money obsessed) Bank President Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) and Drysdale’s secretary Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp). THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES season one cast members also include Harriet E. MacGibbon as the bank president’s snooty wife Margaret Drysdale and Bea Benaderet as Jed’s Cousin Pearl Bodine.
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES: ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 1 ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features 26 of the episodes that were aired during the series first season. The featured episodes are as follows: The Clampetts Strike Oil, Getting Settled, Meanwhile, Back At The Cabin, The Clampetts Meet Mrs. Drysdale, Jed Buys Stock, Trick Or Treat, The Servants, Jethro Goes To School, Elly’s First Date, Pygmalion And Elly, Elly Races Jethrine, The Great Feud, No Place Like Home, Jed Rescues Pearl, Back To California, Jed’s Dilemma, Jed Saves The Drysdales’ Marriage, Elly’s Animals, Jed Throws A Wingding, Jed Plays Solomon, Duke Steals A Wife, Jed Buys The Freeway, Jed Becomes A Banker, The Family Tree, Jed Cuts The Family Tree, and Granny’s Spring Tonic.
MPI Home Video has made all of the episodes that comprise THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES: ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 1 available on DVD in their proper full screen aspect ratios. These black and white episodes really look quite nice on DVD and are certain to make any fan of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES: ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 1 very happy. Authorized by the estate of series creator Paul Henning, the episodes in this collection have been given fine transfers from good quality film elements, which most likely from Henning’s personal vault. The film elements from which the episodes are transferred aren’t perfect, but they have been cleaned up quite well, to produce a generally sharp and well-defined image quality on DVD. There is a bit of softness here and there, but nothing worth complaining about. The blacks are accurate, the whites are stable and the picture boasts fine grayscale and contrast. Film grain is noticeable much of the time, but is never excessive. Digital compression artifacts are generally well camouflaged.
All of the episodes that constitute the THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES: ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 1 feature Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. Most traces of background hiss and audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving a generally smooth sonic quality. Some mild distortion creeps in, in a couple of places, but the sound quality is pretty solid for a sitcom that debuted in 1962. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. Fidelity has the expected limitations of a sitcom recorded in the early sixties, but the music holds up well enough. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. First up, is an introduction to the series, which is provided by Linda Kaye Henning, the daughter of series creator Paul Henning. Next, we have an extended edition of the pilot episode (The Clampetts Strike Oil) that includes footage not found in the version that eventually aired. Note: this version also includes the original series title sequence that called the show THE HILLBILLIES OF BEVERLY HILLS. Each episode also contains the original sponsor plug, with the series sponsorship duties being divided by Winston Cigarettes and Kellogg’s Cereal.
A series Original Cast Commercials with various cast members in character are also featured on the disc four of the set, as is a color Network Promo for the series. Paul Henning And The Hillbillies is a fifty-one minute program that looks at the career of the show’s creator and his best loved creation. There is a thirteen minute Max Baer Interview in which the actor discusses how the series has impacted his career and how he is currently merchandising THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, including a planned Nevada casino with a Beverly Hillbillies theme. Closing out the set are Buddy Ebsen Sings and Irene Ryan Sings, which offers brief clips from the two cast members making appearances on variety shows.
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES is one of my favorite sitcoms from my youth and I am glad that the show is being made available in a quality presentation. Hopefully MPI will follow up this set with second volume. Also, I hope Paramount will follow suit and bring the remaining episodes of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (and PETTICOAT JUNCTION) that they control to DVD with the same consideration that MPI has shown towards this classic sitcom. THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES: ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 1 is a quality DVD release that is highly recommended.
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