Petticoat Junction-Remaining Series on DVD?

LeoA

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I've been watching Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies DVD's the past few days. Other than a few scattered shorts here and there, it's the first time for me since I was a kid.

Anyways, I thought I heard Bea Benedaret's voice in several of the 1940's and early 50's cartoons and did some digging. And sure enough, I had heard her voice. :)

I knew about her being the voice of Betty Rubble for the first several seasons of The Flintstones, but I didn't know about this part of her career in the 1940's and early 1950's.
 
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Wiseguy

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Decades also shows Petticoat Junction, two episodes every weekday at 12 noon Central Time. They started over with the first season last week.
 
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Tom St Jones

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Her husband ,Eugene Twombly died 4 days after her on the day after her funeral of a heart attack at age 54. She died from lung cancer.
Wow never knew that. Certainly not unheard of.. Clearly, his heart wasn't in a good way at the time (not making light of it, just saying.) Makes me think of when Debbie Reynolds died literally 1 day after her daughter Carrie Fisher in 2016.
While Ms. Benaderet wasn't the only attraction of the show, ofcourse (there's the girls, obviously, plus Uncle Joe & my personal fave, Mr. Drucker), it's no surprise the show didn't last long without her.. Reminds me of "Bonanza" without Hoss, and more recently "The District" (Craig T Nelson series) after Lynne Thigpen suddenly died.
Hope the remaining seasons get released on DVD (restored/remastered, of course) in the not-distant future, even if on MOD.
 

Caproni

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I also saw the indication on the PETTICOAT JUNCTION page on Wikipedia about the complete series (including the "previously unreleased seasons 4─7"). I have the officially released first three seasons of PETTICOAT JUNCTION already in my collection. I remember the day I saw the third season for sale at Walmart (I didn't even know it was coming out) and I snatched it up and put it in the shopping cart before I could thank twice!

Honestly, I think this is a stretch for the last four seasons to come out. Both THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and GREEN ACRES were more popular than PETTICOAT JUNCTION in the Nielsen ratings, and GREEN ACRES just got all six of its seasons released back when Shout! Factory acquired the rights in October 2017. Individually, the final season of GREEN ACRES was released in July 2018. THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, which remains one of the most successful sitcoms in television history, has struggled to get released, too. For years the insanely popular first season was tied up and we only got it in budget releases that never contained the entire first year on DVD. It finally got released in 2016, after seasons two through four had already be out on DVD for years. To date, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES has only its first five seasons out, and that fifth season came out back in 2018. It has some of its reunion movies/specials out, too.

PETTICOAT JUNCTION had a troubled history. While Bea Benaderet infamously died and was eventually replaced on camera with June Lockhart, the show never addressed Benaderet's death on screen. She was always away on a trip, and I think after a while, they just stopped talking about her as much. I like PETTICOAT JUNCTION, but I probably wouldn't really want the show past season four, maybe season five. Sure, it would be nice to have it all, but like many, I don't like how the show added musical numbers once Mike Minor and Meredith MacRae were introduced in the fourth season. It became more of a domestic comedy with like two or three musical gigs per episode, and that's not really my cup of tea. It all shifted towards Steve and Betty Jo, and that original concept was lost. Naturally, the core of that "original concept" was lost when Bea Benaderet passed. Nothing could recapture that.

It all depends on whether or not CBS can get everything settled with the music rights. PETTICOAT JUNCTION wasn't nearly as successful in syndication as THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and GREEN ACRES were (and are), so this really could be wishful thinking. I'm not entirely giving up hope, but the only thing we've got to go on is what Wikipedia has out there, but they don't even have a citation with it. That's the iffy thing. There's no citation, and therefore we haven't anyway to confirm what they're claiming.
 

Malcolm R

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Yeah, I've been watching seasons six and seven as they're broadcast on MeTV, and they're definitely not as good. Mostly musical numbers and Joe, Sam, and Burt acting as three stooges with Wendell the occasional fourth stooge. Though Selma Plout is kind of a hoot. Just watched the founder's day episode where the truth came out about founder Cyrus Plout's "20 -- count 'em, 20 -- curvaceous cuties!" :D
 
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LeoA

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I always thought Bobbie Jo's line here indirectly alludes to Kate Bradley being more than just away visiting family, with how her and Billie Jo look a bit sad as Bobbie says "and in the same old water tower, too".


Wouldn't make sense to look sad if Kate was just off temporarily visiting family, like how the matter was initially handled after she had passed away.
 

sjbradford

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There’s an episode from the last season or two - can’t remember which one - where there‘s yet another possibility of the railroad shutting down, and Uncle Joe refers to the possibility of ”the girls” losing the hotel. Not Kate, but the girls. That pretty much confirms Kate’s fate.

PJ would have fared better in syndication had they kept the first two B&W seasons in the syndication package, and stopped it after “Kate’s Homecoming”, the season 5 finale. But Viacom wanted an all color package, so the two strongest seasons weren’t included, and the two weakest seasons were.
 

Caproni

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PETTICOAT JUNCTION has not enjoyed the syndication success that THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and GREEN ACRES has had these past decades. It wasn't as successful during their originals runs, either.

CBS was originally going to cancel PETTICOAT JUNCTION in 1969 after six seasons. After a phenomenally successful first year (which had placed #4 in the Nielsen ratings), the series had been in a slow, but steady decline ever since. Once Bea Benaderet was gone, it started sagging in the ratings, and sometimes pretty low, too. The only reason CBS decided to renew PETTICOAT JUNCTION for a seventh season in 1969 was so the network would have five seasons worth of color episodes to air in syndication, which would be very profitable for the network. The black-and-white episodes of PETTICOAT JUNCTION were not typically shown in the syndication rotation.

I've always found this odd. The color seasons of PETTICOAT JUNCTION were more familiar in reruns, while it seems the black-and-white episodes of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES got more exposure. The color seasons of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES don't quite have the same zing, and perhaps that's why some networks seemed to favor the first three black-and-white seasons over the later color ones. That's just a theory. GREEN ACRES was always in color, so it never had these issues. There weren't any black-and-white episodes of it to air.
 

LeoA

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It still has enjoyed a successful syndication life since being resurrected for Nick at Nite (Where apparently it was their most requested addition in the months after Nick at Nite launched, I've read).

I'd argue it's been more visible than Green Acres in more recent years. I'm not sure why, but after the 1990's, Green Acres has seen relatively infrequent air time on classic tv oriented channels like MeTV compared to the other two Paul Henning sitcoms (Although I believe at present, it is part of MeTV's lineup).

But Petticoat Junction has been a staple with the birth of channels like that one to fill the void left when TV Land decided being a successful classic tv channel wasn't what they wanted to be. Other than perhaps 2000-2005 with the TV Land fiasco before substitutes starting popping up (Leaving precious little 50's/60's tv in nationwide syndication for a time), Petticoat Junction has been pretty regularly broadcast for the past 30 years.
 

The Obsolete Man

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It still has enjoyed a successful syndication life since being resurrected for Nick at Nite (Where apparently it was their most requested addition in the months after Nick at Nite launched, I've read).

I'd argue it's been more visible than Green Acres in more recent years. I'm not sure why, but after the 1990's, Green Acres has seen relatively infrequent air time on classic tv oriented channels like MeTV compared to the other two Paul Henning sitcoms (Although I believe at present, it is part of MeTV's lineup).
I would almost bet it's because PJ and BH are owned and syndicated by CBS/Paramount, while Green Acres has the misfortune of being subject to the quagmire that has been MGM for the last 20 years.
 
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sjbradford

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The black-and-white episodes of PETTICOAT JUNCTION were not typically shown in the syndication rotation.

I've always found this odd. The color seasons of PETTICOAT JUNCTION were more familiar in reruns, while it seems the black-and-white episodes of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES got more exposure. The color seasons of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES don't quite have the same zing, and perhaps that's why some networks seemed to favor the first three black-and-white seasons over the later color ones. That's just a theory. GREEN ACRES was always in color, so it never had these issues. There weren't any black-and-white episodes of it to air.
BH was a blockbuster hit, so local stations were willing to take all the episodes they could get. But with more modest hits like “My Three Sons” and “Petticoat Junction”, they didn’t necessarily want hundreds of episodes. And making those syndication packages color-only made them more attractive in the 1970s, when color TV had reached mass adoption and there was a relatively limited amount of color reruns available to local stations.

Some of the B&W episodes of BH and now PJ have fallen into the public domain. So that’s why you may see stations that only air B&W episodes of those series.
 

Caproni

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BH was a blockbuster hit, so local stations were willing to take all the episodes they could get. But with more modest hits like “My Three Sons” and “Petticoat Junction”, they didn’t necessarily want hundreds of episodes. And making those syndication packages color-only made them more attractive in the 1970s, when color TV had reached mass adoption and there was a a relatively limited amount of color reruns available to local stations.
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES remains one of the most-watched television sitcoms in history. It was the first television series to hit #1 during its first season (not even the immensely popular I LOVE LUCY can boast as much), and some of its episodes remain some of the highest-rated sitcom episodes in television history. I believe the episode "The Giant Jack Rabbit" remains one of television's most-watched broadcasts.

I think considering MY THREE SONS and the eventual style of PETTICOAT JUNCTION being more subdued leads to it being more of a novelty than a legitimate source of consistent syndication revenue.
 

The Obsolete Man

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THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES remains one of the most-watched television sitcoms in history. It was the first television series to hit #1 during its first season (not even the immensely popular I LOVE LUCY can boast as much), and some of its episodes remain some of the highest-rated sitcom episodes in television history. I believe the episode "The Giant Jack Rabbit" remains one of television's most-watched broadcasts.
The Beverly Hillbillies were so damn popular, their mere existence as a lead-in dragged The Dick Van Dyke Show from canceled to #9 in one season.
 

Caproni

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The Beverly Hillbillies were so damn popular, their mere existence as a lead-in dragged The Dick Van Dyke Show from canceled to #9 in one season.
And helped THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW become one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
 

Caproni

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I noticed yesterday that all 222 episodes are available for viewing on YouTube. Some of the episodes (especially season four) aren't in the best condition, but it's a good way to view them.

Well, that is, until YouTube snatches them down.
 
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Caproni

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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.

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Pat Woodell was stunning. Bobbie Jo was always the most attractive Bradley sister to me, whether it was Pat Woodell or Lori Saunders playing her. She was beautiful.

But as for Gunilla Hutton ─ she was sick that season she was hired. I've heard she had a few different ailments, so I can't specify what she had. She was quite attractive, but ended up leaving probably this smallest impression as Billie Jo because she was barely on the show. There were only a few episodes where she was central. Most the episodes had pretty much as atmosphere, alluding to the fact that the Bradley sisters were still around and a part of the show.

Episode count: (per IMDb)
Jeannine Riley ─ 72 episodes
Gunilla Hutton ─ 23 episodes
Meredith MacRae ─ 106 episodes

Most viewers MIGHT recognize that the actresses playing Billie Jo changed, but probably only think there were two actresses ─ Jeannine Riley (in the black-and-white seasons) and Meredith MacRae (in the color seasons). I'm sure Gunilla Hutton isn't really remembered because she was barely even there.
 

LeoA

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I vaguely recall hearing that she came down with hepatitis, causing her to miss much of season 3.

I wonder if her extended absence played a part in the character being recast for season 3? While I have nothing against the job she did on the show, I'm certainly glad that Meredith MacRae got the part with the following season. She's always been a favorite of mine and I'd bet money that her joining the cast and being well received by viewers added another season or two to the show's run, helping fill the void left behind by the loss of Bea Benaderet.

That said, I thought Jeannine Riley did an excellent job with the original portrayal of Billie Jo in the black & white seasons.
 
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Gary OS

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While I have nothing against the job she did on the show, I'm certainly glad that Meredith MacRae got the part with the following season. She's always been a favorite of mine and I'd bet money that her joining the cast and being well received by viewers added another season or two to the show's run, helping fill the void left behind by the loss of Bea Benaderet.
As am I, Leo. The show really picked up again late in S6 and throughout S7 and easily could have been renewed for an 8th season. And yes, I agree Meredith helped push it forward, along with the remaining cast, after the difficulty of losing Bea Benaderet.

Gary "having those McRae seasons on DVD would be really nice, but I've given up hope" O.
 

LeoA

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Me too :(

While there's plenty of music in the three seasons that they did release of Petticoat Junction, I sadly have come to terms with the commonly cited difficulty for why the following four seasons will never hit DVD.

I wish they'd at least go back to the negatives and remaster these for syndication. Clearly the show still has syndication value, but the later episodes sure can look rough at times. For the sake of preservation and future tv airings and streaming, I'd love to see seasons 4-7 looking as good as season 3 does today even if I can't own them on DVD.

And who knows. If these episodes were remastered and available, maybe some independent publisher would come knocking and a deal could be struck for DVD that could help defray some of that investment to future proof the show for syndication. But as it stands now, not only is there the extra expense of music clearances, but also the cost of remastering for seasons 4-7.
 
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