Petticoat Junction-Remaining Series on DVD?

sjbradford

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The first three seasons are the best. Once Jay Sommers left (to concentrate solely on Green Acres) and the deadly dull duo of Meredith MacRae and Mike Minor showed up, it went downhill fast. And the episodes without Bea Benaderet aren’t even worth a second look - she was a talented lady and the unifying presence of the show.

I really liked Jeannine Riley as the sassy, flirty Billie Joe. She was a comedic force. Gunilla Hutton didn’t have Riley’s comic abilities and the writers got rid of Billie’s sass, but the character still seemed somewhat the same. When Meredith MacRae showed up, it was clear that they were evolving the character to become the responsible, married eldest sister. However, when Minor and Linda Henning (Betty Jo) became a real-life couple, that plan went out the window, and they paired Steve with Betty Jo instead. So now, you had two responsible, mature sisters. Kinda dull for comedy.
 

Rob_Ray

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The first three seasons are the best. Once Jay Sommers left (to concentrate solely on Green Acres) and the deadly dull duo of Meredith MacRae and Mike Minor showed up, it went downhill fast. And the episodes without Bea Benaderet aren’t even worth a second look - she was a talented lady and the unifying presence of the show.

I really liked Jeannine Riley as the sassy, flirty Billie Joe. She was a comedic force. Gunilla Hutton didn’t have Riley’s comic abilities and the writers got rid of Billie’s sass, but the character still seemed somewhat the same. When Meredith MacRae showed up, it was clear that they were evolving the character to become the responsible, married eldest sister. However, when Minor and Linda Henning (Betty Jo) became a real-life couple, that plan went out the window, and they paired Steve with Betty Jo instead. So now, you had two responsible, mature sisters. Kinda dull for comedy.
While a lot of what you say is true, I must take exception with the idea that Meredith MacRae was "deadly dull". While she had none of Jeannine Riley's sass and flirtatiousness, she was very warm and wonderful in her own more subdued way.

And while the show lost its heart and soul with the passing of Bea Benederet, I must defend the last two seasons where June Lockhart took on an impossible task, in trying to somewhat replace Bea as the older maternal figure. She did an admirable job and those episodes are worth a second look for me.

Given all the challenges that life threw at the show, it's a wonder it performed as well as it did in those last years. I remember Lori Saunders, in particular, really shining in the last season, with her comedic timing. Now, mind you, I haven't seen these shows in nearly 50 years, but I would love to revisit them.
 
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Ron Lee Green

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The first three seasons are the best. Once Jay Sommers left (to concentrate solely on Green Acres) and the deadly dull duo of Meredith MacRae and Mike Minor showed up, it went downhill fast. And the episodes without Bea Benaderet aren’t even worth a second look - she was a talented lady and the unifying presence of the show.

I really liked Jeannine Riley as the sassy, flirty Billie Joe. She was a comedic force. Gunilla Hutton didn’t have Riley’s comic abilities and the writers got rid of Billie’s sass, but the character still seemed somewhat the same. When Meredith MacRae showed up, it was clear that they were evolving the character to become the responsible, married eldest sister. However, when Minor and Linda Henning (Betty Jo) became a real-life couple, that plan went out the window, and they paired Steve with Betty Jo instead. So now, you had two responsible, mature sisters. Kinda dull for comedy.
This show is a good example of when reel life meets real life.

First, they changed the personalities of the Bradley girls to suit the replacement actresses' different traits. Billie Jo, as you mentioned, went from flirty and sassy to responsible and soft spoken. Bobbie Jo also changed when Lori Saunders took over. She went from a shy, bookworm type to kooky and ditzy.

The relationship between Betty Jo and Steve always rubbed me the wrong way, too. It seems they only did that because the actors fell in love in real life. They spent half a season building up the romance between Billie Jo and Steve, then they break up, and he switches to Betty Jo. I know these things happen in real life, but it just bothered me for some reason. Maybe it was the way Billie Jo just shrugged it off so easily.

The way they handled the death of Bea Benaderet was bizarre. She went away to take care of a sick relative. Okay, I can buy that for a few episodes, but indefinitely? No. Her presence was definitely missed but it was just plain strange that no one was addressing it, or dealing with it on the show. Eventually someone did make some vague reference how they missed Mom or wishes that she was here, but no one came out and flat out said she died. I realize it was a sitcom, and they probably just didn't know how to address it at the time.
I wonder: Has there ever been a sitcom where the main lead star died midway during production and the show kept going on for another two seasons?

Still, despite all these changes, I do enjoy the show. Maybe its the setting. It transports me back to a simpler time. It's quaint and old-fashioned. Visiting the Shady Rest Hotel is like visiting Grandma's house or an old relative. I can almost smell the aroma of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen mixed with the smells of old antique furniture and the breeze of country fresh air coming through the windows.
 

Rob_Ray

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Yes, the handling of Bea's death was bizarre, but that's pretty much how it was handled on sitcoms back in those days. They didn't want any true-life unpleasantness to interfere with the comedy. Bewitched handled Marion Lorne's passing in the same way.

I certainly wish the producers of PETTICOAT JUNCTION had honored the great Bea Benederet with some sort of tribute episode that acknowledged her passing. But that just didn't happen back then.

I recall Jean Hagen's character dying in season 4 of MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY, but that did not occur with any real-life death, but with internal bitterness caused by Miss Hagen's desire to leave the show.
 

sjbradford

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Has there ever been a sitcom where the main lead star died midway during production and the show kept going on for another two seasons?
8 Simple Rules continued for almost two seasons after John Ritter died (he died early in the penultimate season, similar to Bea Benederet). Eight is Enough continued for four seasons after Diana Hyland (the mom, Joan Bradford) died, but she wasn’t even there for a full season (and EIE wasn’t quite a sitcom, though it did have a laugh track). Chico & The Man continued for a little over a season after Freddie Prinze died.

What’s really weird about Kate Bradley’s exit from PJ is her final episode, where a stunt double put on Benederet’s wig and wardrobe, and was shot only from behind or in long shots, with Benaderet’s voice dubbed in. Even as a kid, I knew this was completely bizarre.
 

Blimpoy06

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Does anyone know why Gunilla Hutton seems to be absent for a good portion of the Third Season? I remember several Second Season episodes were Betty Joe is the only sister present. Jeannine Riley was not a great actress and always had that fake toothy smile. Merideth MacRae at least was around long enough to make the role her own. Pat Woodell was gorgeous and I wish she had stayed as Bobbie Jo.

460full-pat-woodell.jpg
 

timk1041

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Well, since I’m apparently the only one here that actually likes Meredith MacRae, I’d like to see at least S4. I’d buy S5 too.

Gary “Meredith was one of my adolescent crushes” O. :D
I haven't seen any episodes with Meredith MacRae myself yet, Gary, but I'd certainly be down for Petticoat Junction S4. I'm still getting used to Gunilla Hutton replacing the vivacious Jeanine Riley (which is more than compensated for by the addition of Lori Saunders). Where I lose interest is in any post-Bea Benederet seasons...just wouldn't be the same without her.



Don't see anything wrong there!
I liked Meredith. If I had to choose between Riley and Hutton, I would go with Riley. I thought she was much better. Hutton didn't even appear in many of the Season 3 episodes.
 

timk1041

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Does anyone know why Gunilla Hutton seems to be absent for a good portion of the Third Season? I remember several Second Season episodes were Betty Joe is the only sister present. Jeannine Riley was not a great actress and always had that fake toothy smile. Merideth MacRae at least was around long enough to make the role her own. Pat Woodell was gorgeous and I wish she had stayed as Bobbie Jo.

View attachment 72159
 

timk1041

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I liked Pat Woodell a bit more than Lori Saunders as Bobbie Jo, although they looked so much alike. I had trouble telling them apart sometimes. As I said, I would personally take Riley over Hutton for Billie Jo.
 

timk1041

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Despite someone editing the Wikipedia page (an open-sourced platform, though curated to some degree) for Petticoat Junction and adding that CBS will complete the series on DVD in 2020, do we have any other info confirming this? I'm just as skeptical as you guys, with the added uncertainty of the pandemic's economic and logistical implications delaying it, if and when it actually happens. I would love it to be otherwise, but I don't think there's a chance now.

On the optimistic side, in recent pre-pandemic times, CBS has surprised us with Completing Gunsmoke on DVD, an incredible development overall. And despite some fans fearing they might use old tape transfers (of terrible quality) to finish the series in short order, seasons 16-19 came out in short order utilizing the same beautifully remastered standards as before. I can't imagine that the imminent season 20 will be any different. And who could have possibly imagined that a massive complete series set would have ever been produced by CBS/(P)? Mind boggling just a year ago!

Chris, I wish I could get MeTV in Canada (it's possible, but I'd have to jump through some hoops with a VPN provider), I haven't seen the later seasons of Petticoat Junction since first run. But I agree, there was no replacing the wonderful and irreplaceable Bea Benaderet. And The familiar Joy of Smiley Burnette also. But there were enough bits and pieces left with the rest of the original cast and the spare parts that came and went, that I'd want to see the rest of it on DVD. But like yourself and others, I'm not holding my breath. Except to avoid the current contagion, ha, ha...
I am not betting for OR against the rest of the series being released. We have to wait and find out.
 

timk1041

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I'm capturing Petticoat Junction episodes from ME TV because I would like to view the rest of the series and do not believe there is any chance CBS will release further seasons.

I watched Petticoat Junction during its original run. After the loss of Bea Benaderet, the show was never the same. The death of Smiley Burnette was another loss for me, Mr. Burnette having been a favorite of mine in so many Gene Autry westerns.

Still - I will watch my CBS DVDs and ME TV captures and enjoy Petticoat Junction quite fondly.
Not a bad idea to record it from Me-TV just in case the rest of it doesn't get released.
 

timk1041

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While a lot of what you say is true, I must take exception with the idea that Meredith MacRae was "deadly dull". While she had none of Jeannine Riley's sass and flirtatiousness, she was very warm and wonderful in her own more subdued way.

And while the show lost its heart and soul with the passing of Bea Benederet, I must defend the last two seasons where June Lockhart took on an impossible task, in trying to somewhat replace Bea as the older maternal figure. She did an admirable job and those episodes are worth a second look for me.

Given all the challenges that life threw at the show, it's a wonder it performed as well as it did in those last years. I remember Lori Saunders, in particular, really shining in the last season, with her comedic timing. Now, mind you, I haven't seen these shows in nearly 50 years, but I would love to revisit them.
I agree. Even with the changes, the later episodes are worth checking out.
 

sjbradford

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Pat Woodell was so beautiful and she had a great voice. But I really liked Lori Saunders, too - she fit in a bit better with Hooterville’s slightly off-kilter sensibilities. Pat missed a good number of episodes during season 2. There’s even one where they used a double in one of the scenes and carefully shot it so you couldn’t see her face.

Jeannine Riley’s portrayal really evolved from the early episodes, as they figured out what she was capable of. By the second season, Billie Jo was trading barbs and Riley was keeping up with the more senior members of the cast (check out “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Jinx” for an example).

I understand that Pat Woodell left on good terms (I’ve read that she even had input in to helping select her replacement, though I don’t know how true that is). Pat participated on the extras for the DVDs before she passed away. Apparently Jeannine Riley thought the part was too small for her and rubbed her colleagues the wrong way, and they weren’t sorry to see her go.
 

LeoA

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I understand that Pat Woodell left on good terms (I’ve read that she even had input in to helping select her replacement, though I don’t know how true that is). Pat participated on the extras for the DVDs before she passed away.
It's mentioned in one of the DVD's that she tried to return, realizing she had made a terrible mistake. But they had already hired Lori Saunders to fill the part.
 

Arthur Powell

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It's mentioned in one of the DVD's that she tried to return, realizing she had made a terrible mistake. But they had already hired Lori Saunders to fill the part.
Are you sure about that? I seem to recall that it was Gunilla Hutton who realized that she made a mistake but couldn't return since Meredith MacRae had already been hired. Pat Woodell wanted to leave to pursue a music career.
 

LeoA

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If two of you are recollecting it that way, chances are it was Gunilla Hutton.

I'll have to fire up my DVD's and rewatch them. I thought I remembered Pat Woodell talking about herself, but I haven't seen all the extras since the first time I viewed each disc (usually choosing to just watch the episodes themselves, which are rewatched every few months).
 

Arthur Powell

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If two of you are recollecting it that way, chances are it was Gunilla Hutton.

I'll have to fire up my DVD's and rewatch them. I thought I remembered Pat Woodell talking about herself, but I haven't seen all the extras since the first time I viewed each disc (usually choosing to just watch the episodes themselves, which are rewatched every few months).
If my memory is correct, I remember Gunilla Hutton talking about it on the documentary that accompanied the MPI release.
 

AlanP

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Nothing to do with PJ, but Bea Benedaret was really missed on "Beverly Hillbillies" as Pearl. To me the first season was the best of that series with Pearl and Jethrine. Always wondered why she did visit on BH as Pearl occasionally. What an amazing talent.
 

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