Petticoat Junction


Changing Portrayals of the Military

Today’s most interesting DVD release is, believe it or not, season 2 of Petticoat Junction. The set, like the season 1 set, has excellent special features (interviews and introductions with Linda Henning and Pat Woodell, aka Betty Jo and the Bobbie Jo — Jeanine Riley, the first Billie Jo, is still missing), the episodes are all new-to-DVD and, because they’re in black and white, have hardly ever been shown in syndication. And the quality of this season is an improvement on the first, and miles ahead of most of the colour episodes shown in syndication, because this was the season Jay Sommers took over as Executive producer and head writer. Jay Sommers, a friend of creator Paul Henning, was, like Henning, a radio comedy writer who successfully transitioned to TV. (He specialized in writing for radio-to-TV transplants like The Great Gildersleeve and Ozzie and Harriet.) As showrunner of Petticoat Junction, he set about making the nostalgic rural comedy a little more like the crazy, surreal rural comedies he had written for on the radio, like Lum and Abner and his own creation, Granby’s Green Acres (about a city guy who moves to a small farming town and finds that it’s populated by crazy people).