The last two episodes of Green Acres aren't really episodes of Green Acres

They were both pilots for spinoff shows that never got picked up.

Although the occasional spinoff TV show still happens today, they are much less common than they were half a century ago. Creating a show that had at least some connections to a series already on the air was seen as a good way to ensure success. And for many programs, especially sitcoms, it was!

The first installment, or "pilot" episode, of a spinoff was typically aired as a regular episode of the existing show. That way, unsuspecting viewers could be introduced to new characters and stories that they might not necessarily have watched on their own. This somewhat sneaky episode is often referred to as a "backdoor pilot."

The beginning of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. is actually an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, indeed called "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." In fact, Andy, Opie and Mayberry were first introduced to audiences in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show before Griffith got his own sitcom.

Producer Paul Henning's Petticoat Junction and Green Acres are more examples of spinoffs that became popular shows in their own rights. Both are connected to The Beverly Hillbillies. Because of these prior successes, it's easy to see why Henning would try his luck again in the early 1970s.

Henning tapped Green Acres creator Jay Sommers to come up with two more shows that could potentially be spawned from the Eddie Albert/Eva Gabor sitcom.

The two ideas were produced for the sixth season and aired as the final two episodes. Though the cast and crew didn't know it at the time, the show was about to be canceled, so these two unrelated escapades would actually be the final stories for Lisa and Oliver Douglas.

The two backdoor pilots are very different but both feature young main characters and have relatively urban settings.

The thinking at the time was that Americans were tired of rural shows and wanted something geared more toward a younger audience. This culminated in the "Rural Purge," the cancelation of many country-themed shows, including Green Acres.

The episode "Hawaiian Honeymoon" follows Lisa and Oliver as they travel to Hawaii for a fifth honeymoon. While Albert and Gabor are in some scenes, it's clear that the focus of the episode is the owner of the Hawaiian hotel, Bob Carter, and his daughter, Pamela. A working title for the pilot — had it been picked up — was Pam, after the daughter character played by Pamela Franklin.

Born in Japan and schooled in England, Franklin starred in movies like Flipper's New Adventure and The Nanny as a child and was looking to break into American TV. Her accent in "Hawaiian Honeymoon" was briefly explained by the fact that her character used to live with an aunt in the U.K.

Her father was played by Don Porter, who had previously portrayed Sally Field's father in Gidget. One other notable casting choice for this episode? Pat Morita, years before Happy Days and more than a decade before The Karate Kid, played a waiter at the hotel. His banter with Bob and Pamela during the episode makes it clear he would have been a regular part of the new show had it been picked up.

The second backdoor pilot from the end of Green Acres, and the final episode of the series, was for a show that was using working titles like Carol and The Blonde. It was about secretary Carol Rush, played by Elaine Joyce, and her overbearing boss, Mr. Oglethorpe. Carol used to be Oliver's secretary in New York, which is how the plot gets started. Oliver sends her a letter asking about jeweler in Manhattan he forgot the name of. The letter drops through Carol’s mail slot in Los Angeles and so begins a story completely unrelated to Hooterville.

Lisa and Oliver are in even less of this episode than they were in "Hawaiian Honeymoon," appearing only in the beginning and a short scene in the middle where Oliver calls Carol.

Most of the episode concerns Carol and her job at Oglethorpe Realty. She arrives late, puts her lunch in the filing cabinet and rents the office next door to a young lawyer for far less than the asking price. Richard Deacon plays her flustered boss — a part similar to his role as Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Though these two pilots never amounted to anything, they will forever live on as one-time stories that hint at what could have been thanks to their connection to Green Acres.

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LarryAJacobsen 30 months ago
Spinoffs "much less common"? Seems like most crime dramas nowadays are spinoffs. Law and Order, CSI, the NCIS franchise (spunoff of JAG).
GeorgeHunt 39 months ago
the rural purge was because the big wigs did not like being made fun of by the other big wigs they called them hicks remember cbs nbc abc was in new york
iloveoldtvshows 46 months ago
I bet metv won’t change the schedule until September 21
Pacificsun iloveoldtvshows 46 months ago
And here it is ......
They won't change it now until after The Three Stooges finish in November.
This is a departure from their regular routine.
ttenchantr iloveoldtvshows 26 months ago
And yet again in 2022 they're not changing the primetime lineup at all!
cperrynaples 46 months ago
There was a major flub in that last episode! Did you notice that Oliver had to climb the pole to talk to his secretary? Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he get an indoor phone by the end of the first season?
justjeff cperrynaples 46 months ago
According to the episode that ran on Friday Sept. 17th, they got an indoor phone, but it wasn't connected and it would take two months to get hooked up.
cperrynaples justjeff 46 months ago
Yep, that was first season! Therefore, the pole wasn't needed in season 6!
ColRSG2 46 months ago
I was a big fan of Green Acres. I think CBS, and whatever young, stupid executives that were responsible for it's cancellation should receive a huge kick in the seat of their pants! I would volunteer my size 12EEE for the job! Probably the same idiots that cancelled Star Trek, and it's still going strong 50 years later in reruns. Just goes to prove that no brain idiots are running the Networks!
Pacificsun ColRSG2 46 months ago
I'm not defending those folks for the reason it caused many fans at the time to be disappointed. Especially ST:TOS

But our hindsight is so far removed from the mentality of that time, which (reasonably) had no concept of the power of fandom. To them (Executives) Shows that didn't perform in the Top 20 (yes, 20) were just in the way. Remember the horse race was between only 3 Networks. Unless the endless choices we have today, which has created the opportunity for "niche" television viewing (favoring particular genres)! There was no such thing back then. For one thing they didn't have the vast library of television which has accumulated over 50 years. So the Shows we love today (as classic favorites) were run, then re-run, and got stale fast. Especially as new programming was being put out there.

I'm sure those Executives of yesterday would be incredibly surprised at what has come of some of their "dumbest" decisions! But hopefully, would smile about it.

Thank Heavens for MeTV!
justjeff 47 months ago
I appreciate the comments and observations on my missing post.

A few 'highlights' of my "thesis": The radio comedy "Fibber McGee and Molly" that birthed the first-ever spinoffs had some notable cast members over the years.

Mel Blanc did characters on the show in the 1930s, Bill Thomson - a cast regular who did many characters including "mush mouthed" Wallace Wimple, used that same voice for "Smee" in Peter Pan, "Droopy" in the MGM cartoon shorts and "Touche Turtle" for Hanna-Barbera.

Gale Gordon, best know for his work on "Our Miss Brooks" and on "The Lucy Show" and "Here's Lucy" played the town mayor, and also the local weatherman. (He was also "Flash Gordon on radio in 1935.)

Bea Benadaret played one of the town's 'upper crust'... and Arthur Q. Bryan [whose name may not be that familar to many readers here] played the town doctor. You'll know him for his work in cartoons. Bryan was the original voice of Elmer Fudd until his passing in 1959.
mlauenstein justjeff 47 months ago
Not to mention that Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet played John and Martha Granby on "Granby's Green Acres".
justjeff mlauenstein 46 months ago
...and Bea was the original voice of both Granny and Witch Hazel in the Warner Brothers cartoons before being replaced by June Foray...
daDoctah mlauenstein 46 months ago
You can catch an episode of "Granby's Green Acres" right now on the Nostalgia Digest website. It's a repeat of their podcast from a few years ago that saluted the radio career of Bea Benaderet.
Kthompson justjeff 46 months ago
Another funny thing is that they were both on the radio show that was before I love lucy. I think it's funny my two favorite shows have a relation
justjeff mlauenstein 46 months ago
True! That was the radio show that inspired the TV update...
TobyGibbs 47 months ago
I like TV Land, but I do question a few of the observations made here.

1) I suspect that Paul Henning and Jay Sommers knew that CBS was on the verge of cancelling 'Green Acres.' There was widespread speculation at the time that CBS was thinking about getting rid of its rural-themed shows. Plus, CBS had almost cancelled GA a year earlier, in the spring of 1970. And contrary to the frequent claim that 'Green Acres' and 'The Beverly Hillbillies' were still popular, neither one was in the Top 30 during the 1970-71 season.

2) Strictly speaking, 'Petticoat Junction' was not a spinoff of 'The Beverly Hillbillies.' I've read that Paul Henning considered making Cousin Pearl the central character on PJ. But for some reason, he decided against that, created the 'Kate Bradley' character instead, and made her the show's main character. So there was no direct connection between BH and PJ when PJ went on the air in the fall of 1963. It's true that there were some crossover episodes of the two shows LATER, but that was an after-the-fact decision made after PJ had been on the air a few years.

I don't know what you call 'Green Acres,' in relation to PJ. It's not really a spinoff. It's more of a spin-on. Oliver and Lisa Douglas had never been seen or mentioned on PJ. They were new characters on a new show -- with no prior connection to PJ -- but they were instantly inserted into the PJ universe. That doesn't fit the traditional definition of a "spinoff," so I'm not sure what to call it.
Hitch3 TobyGibbs 47 months ago
There’s a lot of revisionist history with regards to old tv shows. I see utterly ridiculous claims made not just by commenters, but I’ve seen showrunners, writers, producers, directors & actors making claims that are just plain silly. But if you haven’t worked in the last 20 years since your show went off the air, I guess any kind of claim will fly if it got you a paid reunion gig. All kinds of nefarious reasons were for claimed for various cancellations (“Our show got good ratings, people loved it! It was popular! It was the elite critics who hated it, not the fact that we’d dropped 30 points in the ratings over one year” or “It was the guy who was the head of the network at the time - he had it in for us & wanted his friend’s show in our time slot”). And there were all those minutes of Behind the Scenes VH1 shows to fill with nonsense, so people claimed just about anything to get in front of the camera again.
TobyGibbs Hitch3 47 months ago
1. Sorry I wrote "TV Land" in my original post when I meant "MeTV." I watch both.

2. Hitch3: you are absolutely right. There are all kinds of TV history myths floating around -- some of them spread by the people involved in those shows (writers, producers, actors, etc.) Those people aren't necessarily being dishonest. Over time, they can forget the details. But no matter how or why it's happening, it is occurring. I like to go back and find old TV ratings information -- because that helps me separate fact from fiction.
Pacificsun Hitch3 46 months ago
It was purely a ratings game. Between 3 Networks, per timeslot. Shows needed to be among the Top 20. These Networks weren't try to please "viewers" as we think of them, but sponsors who wanted their products/services seen by the widest audience possible. Buy Ad time was/expensive. And companies can't afford to fool around. Yes, we (as commenters) have spun some wishful thinking and possible nostalgia around all of it. But in the end (sadly) entertainment is a business!
denny TobyGibbs 43 months ago
Beverly Hillbillies Was ranked 18th in season 8 and out of the top 30 in it's last season . Green Acres Was ranked 19th in its fourth season and not in the top 30 in it's last two seasons .
ttenchantr TobyGibbs 37 months ago
There were a few characters from PJ that showed up on GA's first season and remained there, Good enough for me to call it a spinoff.
cperrynaples 47 months ago
Clearly Paul Henning wanted to prove to CBS that he could do more sophisticated shows! He actually pitched a new project for Irene Ryan, but she chose to do Pippin instead!
stephaniestavropoulos 47 months ago
The article mentions the movie The Nanny. I'm wondering if that's the same movie that starred Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis as The Nanny. "Time for your bath now, Master Joey." Spooky, twisted movie!
stephaniestavropoulos 47 months ago
This will probably be a first for me. Commending something METV has said, instead of condemning them.
I've just come across one of those rare occurrences, when a "tv expert," gives credit, where credit is due. MeTV did not give Paul Henning credit for creating Green Acres. {As a bunch of so-called "TV Experts" have.}They gave the credit as I said, where it was due: to Jay Somers. I applaud them for this. Like I said, a bunch of the "experts" give credit to PH for all three.
Just because I haven't condemned this time, doesn't mean I've stopped pointing out their mistakes. Because I haven't.
Pacificsun 47 months ago
Never realized that. Guessed I missed the finale episodes!
MikefromJersey 47 months ago
You guys want spin offs? How about 11 series existing in the same universe! At the "Magnum
Mania" site, go to the "It Got By The Censor" thread, there is a post listing 11 series that thru
spin offs and guestings are all connected. As we are all fellow TV buffs here, I have to tell
you Magnum Mania is the most user friendly, well organised site for a TV show I have ever
seen. MeTV should swipe some of it's ideas and use them here.
ttenchantr MikefromJersey 47 months ago
You want to talk about series existing in the same universe? Check out the Tommy Westphall Universe: over 450 interconnected shows!
WordsmithWorks 47 months ago
Other than the producers and rural flavor, I never got the connection between "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres/Petticoat Junction."
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MrsPhilHarris Craigg 46 months ago
Great picture!
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 46 months ago
The usual. Shop at Drucker's, drop by The Shady Rest. Maybe take a trip to the hills to see Pearl and Jethrine Bodine.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 46 months ago
You're so much fun on this site!
Thank you!!!
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 46 months ago
Lol! I have to say I really love this site. There are some really witty, entertaining people commenting.
justjeff 47 months ago
OK: Short version... Spinoffs go back to the Golden Age of Radio... Fibber McGee and Molly had the first two: The Great Gildersleeve and Beulah. Short enough, MeTV???
justjeff 47 months ago
I'd just posted a detailed history of the spin-off. It was there when I'd logged out, but now it's gone..??? Does MeTV arbitrarily edit "the freedom of speech"???
WordsmithWorks justjeff 47 months ago
I don't think MeTV is abridging your 1st amendment rights.
MikefromJersey justjeff 47 months ago
Maybe you forgot to hit "post" after writing it? I have done that. MeTV is pretty good
about letting us post most anything.
Pacificsun justjeff 47 months ago
It doesn't happen often but sometimes the system (server) can "hiccup" at the point of posting. Could be a simultaneous hit too with one comment knocking out another. Nothing intentional implied. It could also post in other places, I've found that happening too. There are slightly different versions of a thread (as noted by the difference in date of postings) and how people call up the MeTV website (mobile is a little different than PC, as well as older shortcut links). Strange but weird. Also try searching under your user account (avatar in the top right hand corner). I believe all your comments will be listed there.
MrsPhilHarris justjeff 47 months ago
That happened to me earlier tonight.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 46 months ago
Parallel Universe!
ncadams27 47 months ago
The examples above describe three different types of pilots.
Gomer Pyle was a semi-regular on Andy Griffith before getting his own show (similar to Rhoda on the Mary Tyler Moore Show).
Andy Griffith appeared on a single episode of the Danny Thomas show (similar to Mork & Mindy on Happy Days).
Green Acres never appeared on Petticoat Junction prior to their show but share the same location and some characters.
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