Thursday, April 23, 2015

Green Acres Christmas (1966)



Although the Green Acres Christmas episode isn't my favorite installment of the series--it is consistent with the absurd world envisioned by series creator, Jay Sommers.  (My favorite episodes usually center around Oliver's knuckleheaded farm hand, Eb.)  Nevertheless, let me remind you of the plot of "An Old Fashioned Christmas" from Green Acres' second season.


While others may dream of Christmas in New York, Oliver fantasizes about Christmas in the country.

We see a scene from several years ago when Oliver and Lisa were still living in New York (before they moved to the farm outside Hooterville.)  The couple are Christmas tree shopping and Oliver is frustrated with his limited options of flocked and painted trees.  These trendy firs are pricey as well.  This establishes the context for Oliver's dream of a simple, old-fashioned Christmas spent in the country.


Mr. Haney drops by the Douglas farm to sell Oliver a "transistorized neck tie." Oh boy. 

This means, Oliver looks forward to the simple life, one in which he chops down his own Christmas tree.  Back on the farm, Oliver is told by Mr. Haney that it's illegal in Hooterville to chop down your own Christmas tree!


Mr. Drucker and Fred Ziffel check out the latest in plastic Christmas trees!  Not only do you assemble it yourself, but each one comes with a bulb you squeeze to release a spray of pine fresh scent.

Squeeze the bulb--and instant spruce juice!

Not sure if he believes Mr. Haney, Oliver goes to store owner Sam Drucker and asks about chopping down his own Christmas tree.  Sure enough, Mr. Drucker confirms that you can't chop down your own Christmas tree--even on your own property!  It's a matter of conservation.


Oliver Douglas is a fish out of water.

Oliver is frustrated with what he's being told is the the law where he lives.  Even as a matter of tree conservation, he thinks he should be able to chop down his own Christmas tree on his own property.  Oliver believes he's a genuine American Farmer (cue the song "Yankee Doodle" played on a fife) and it's part of the American Dream for him to want a simpler life and an old-fashioned Christmas....if you've seen the series, you get the idea! (Oliver seeks a more genuine, authentic, back-to-basics, farm lifestyle over the artificial, mass-produced, manufactured urban life that's popular in the 1960s.)  Next, Oliver heads to his county agent's office to see Hank Kimball about chopping down a tree.


The truth in Hank Kimball's character is revealed if you've ever had bureaucratic dealings with government officials.  Regulations typically defy logic and there's always red tape.

After a lengthy and round-about conversation with Hank Kimball (if you've seen the series, you know how these conversations always go), Oliver learns he can get a permit to legally chop down his own Christmas tree, on his own property. Finally, Oliver can experience the old-fashioned Christmas of his dreams.


Oliver finally chops down his own tree.


Lisa sets out to bake her own fruitcake--with just a few modifications to her hotcakes recipe.

This is Lisa's idea of stringing popcorn (kernels still on the cob!?)

In keeping with an old-fashioned Christmas, friends and neighbors drop by to express their holiday greetings.  Most say they were curious what a real tree looked like--after years of fake and artificial decorations.

Even Arnold Ziffel likes the real Christmas tree!

Christmas is made merry when Oliver receives his wife's gift:  it's snowing in Hooterville!  Well...it's snowing (despite the 80 degree temperatures) outside the Douglases' window.  This Christmas miracle is courtesy of Mr. Haney--sitting on the roof sprinkling soap flakes over the edge.


A Christmas miracle: it's snowing!

While this episode certainly embraces the holiday spirit, it lacks some of the more extreme absurdism that some of the other Green Acres episodes embrace.  To be honest, it isn't that ridiculous for Oliver to long for an old-fashioned Christmas with a real Christmas tree, homemade fruitcake, and handmade Christmas decorations.  More and more, people seek out a simpler lifestyle and old-fashioned holiday experiences each year.  Despite the ridiculous commercialization and fake sentiments all around, people still strive and find just what Oliver was looking for and found for himself.  This episode may be a reaffirmation of what many would consider the American Dream--the enjoyment of a simpler, more authentic life, even if it is temporary.  The humor in this episode is how no one else in Hooterville shares Oliver's values for an old-fashioned holiday and to what lengths Oliver must go in order to achieve it.  And, in the end, Oliver gets exactly what he wants.  I sure hope Eb gets the radio necktie he wants.


Oliver and Lisa share a kiss under the mistletoe.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite line is Mr. Kimbel's (my favorite character). "Yeah it sheds plastic needles, shoots spruce juice. What an artificial mess!"

    Did you notice that most of Eddie Albert's dialogue has been dubbed (I know there's a specific name for when an actor has to re-record his script after the film is made but I can't remember it). I've always wondered why this was done for him and no other characters. Cold? Faulty mic?

    ReplyDelete