The last five seasons of "Petticoat Junction" ran on "TV Land." Write them, tell them to bring it back, including the black & white episodes!
"Come ride a little train as it's rollin' down the tracks to the Junction-- Petticoat Junction"
Yes! The rumors are true! Now you can order an official release DVD, "The Ultimate Collection," This is not a shabby PD collection like you've seen before, this is a restored official release authorized by the estate of Paul Henning, produced by MPI Video. Click Here for more details.
The story you are about to read presents both an in depth commentary about a classic TV show, and a fond remembrance. This page first appeared in 1996. at the time, it was the only reference to "Petticoat Junction" on the web. In November of '98 Dave Stein was authorized by the Henning family to call his site the "The Official Petticoat Junction Web Site." Dave's pages includes a vast amount of information, pictures, and recent information, as well as exclusive information from interviews with cast members.
What is it about these cornball shows from the sixties that make us watch them over and over?
On "Petticoat Junction" the plots were anemic and the jokes never induced a hardy laugh, yet it was number four in the Nielsen ratings for 1963, and remained in the top 25 for five of its seven seasons on CBS. More than three decades later Nick at Nite's TV Land cable network was still inviting us to "Come ride a little train as it's rollin' down the track to the Junction, Petticoat Junction."
I think the success of the show was that it offered a good escape from the reality of a period in time where we saw a beloved president assassinated and the beginning of a war that would continue for twelve years. My reality of the sixties included trips with my parents to visit my Mother's Aunt Mary.
Several times a year I'd sit in the back seat of the family car for what seemed like hours on end going to see Aunt Mary. There, in her dark depressing apartment, I had to sit like a little gentleman in that lace doily and lavender-scented world, for hours. In 1964 a new twist was added to the trip, my Mother decided we were going to visit another Aunt and Uncle, even further away after we left Aunt Mary's.
Uncle Harry and Aunt Ella lived in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, but it might-as-well have been Hooterville. The house looked as big as the Shady Rest Hotel, it had a wood burning stove in the kitchen, a kitchen sink with a pump, a parlor with a coal stove, and a path out the back door that lead to the little house behind the little house on the prairie. A short walk up the road was the general store complete with a post office in the back. It was my very own Drucker's Store. A few miles further up the road there was the little train, rollin' down the tracks, the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad with a genuine steam locomotive. The only thing missing was the water tower with the three petticoats draped over the top.
It's not a coincidence that my family trips reminded me of "Petticoat Junction." Travels with Paul Henning's own family that inspired him to create Petticoat Junction.
After five years of writing and producing "The Bob Cummings Show," in 1962 Paul Henning created "The Beverly Hillbillies" for CBS. The Hillbillies was an immediate hit, it debuted at number one in the Nielsen ratings, and remained in that position for the season. Because of the show's success, CBS asked Paul to give them another county style hit. On September 14th, 1963, "Petticoat Junction" debuted at 9:00pm, following "The Red Skelton Hour" and preceding "The Jack Benny Show." Millions of viewers were introduced to the community of Hooterville for the first time. The show was an immediate hit, winning its time slot and ending the season with a 30.3 rating share. To give you an idea just how good that is, Seinfeld only brings in a 20.7 rating. Although Paul Henning creates hit TV shows, the critics never shared the enthusiasm of the viewers, neither "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction" nor "Green Acres" ever won an Emmy.
Where is Hooterville? On the first episode of "Green Acres," Oliver Douglas tells his wife Lisa that it's somewhat near Chicago. Lisa, "Is Hootersville close to Chicago?" Oliver, "Yeah, kind of. You just have to change planes twice, and then you take the bus from the county seat over to Pixley, and you take this little train, and there you are." But when Oliver takes his apples to the sell at the farm market in the county seat, the directions indicate California, and still the accents of the residents of Hooterville resemble West Virginia. Paul Henning never wanted to put Hooterville in any one state, Hooterville was Anytown USA.
The residents of Hooterville were anything but ordinary. Although Kate Bradley ran the little hotel that the series revolved around, she was often upstaged by the eccentric behavior of Uncle Joe Carson.
Bedloe: Hey, this place got a telephone?
Uncle Joe: Say Mister, I'd like to tell you a
story about that telephone–
Uncle Joe: You ain't gonna get her on that
And that just about sums up Hooterville. Only the outsiders were in a hurry, only the outsiders got aggravated and that's why Homer Bedloe had the only ulcer in Hooterville, he was an outsider that just didn't belong.