The "New Beverly Hillbillies," If "I" Had My Way
The Beverly Hillbillies then . . .
Central co-stars of Beverly Hillbillies
Now let me understand this
" . . .Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed - poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed . . ."
says the first line of the song, "Ballad of Jed Clampett," sung by Jerry Scoggins and played by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to kick-off each episode of CBS-TV's hit sitcom, "The Beverly Hillbillies." Remember that show? I never missed it.
According to the songwriter of this enchanting ballad, the scriptwriters, and producer, Paul Henning, the premise of "The Beverly Hillbillies," was simple. A family, the "Clampetts," "Jed," "Ellie Mae," and "Granny 'Daisy Moses' Clampett," were dirt-poor. That's poor, my friends.
One day, as the song states, "then one day 'Jed" was shootin' at some food, and up from the ground, come-a bubb-a-lin' crude. Oil, that is. 'Black Gold.' 'Texas tea." Suddenly, and without really graping the obvious, "Clampett," was an instant-millionaire. Money to burn. No more poverty. "Easy street."
Then when he shared his mysterious blessing with "Granny Clampett," she was over-joyed with ignorance. She, like "Jed," was not aware that they were 'filthy rich.' This took a cousin, "Pearl Bodine," played by Bea Benaderet (who later starred as "Kate Bradley," on "Petticoat Junction"), who advised "Jed," again, as the ballad says, "'Jed,' move away from there . . .," and with the assistance of "Pearl's" son, "Jethro," played by boxing-legend, Max Baer's son, Max, it was all destiny after that.
The plot-foundation of "The Beverly Hillbillies," was easy to follow. It was the age-old evolution of "ignorantly-blissful rural hill people" integrating "sophisticated, cultured metropolis," with plots that ranged from "Jethro," dreaming of being an international playboy to "Granny," hating Beverly Hills, the huge mansion, and yearning for life in the Ozark Mountains just north of Arkansas. By the by, the show did an on-location filming in the real Ozarks with real people of Silver Dollar City located in this rustic mountain range playing themselves in the show. (i.e. Shad Heller, local blacksmith). And yes, it was a hit too. Ratings couldn't get much higher.
To make things interesting, Frank Wilcox, "John Brewster," was the real reason that "Jed" became filthy-rich. "Brewster," was a field rep for "OK Oil Company," and paid "Jed" a very-lucrative sum for the rights to this land that contained the oil.
Put "Brewster," next to "money-hungry," "Milburn Drysdale," played by veteran Hollywood actor, Raymond Bailey, (the general in the classic bathroom inspection scene in Andy "Will Stockdale's" "No Time For Sargents) who ran the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills, along with the learn-as-you-go "Clampetts," and you have a lively-mixture for sure-success for sitcom show of the late 60's. I get it. Why "Drysdale," was "money-hungry." If I ran a bank and some hillbilly, out of the blue, deposited over 40 million dollars (and growing) into my bank, yessiree, Bob. I would be as "money mad" as "Drysdale."
Unlike "The Andy Griffith Show," which was filmed from inside rural America and was sometimes-invaded by "city slickers," "The Beverly Hillbillies," had themselves a non-stop of truistic story lines that audiences loved.
But honestly, the silliness of some episodes such as "Cousin Roy's Visit," that featured Country Music guitar guru and singer, Roy Clark, was cast as "cousin Roy," from "back home in the hills," who had hit Beverly Hills for an audition to record a few tunes. Clark, in those days, was "green as Bermuda grass," in his non-professional delivery of lines and mock rural accent. What capped the stupidity of "this" particular episode, was "Jethro," who was captivated with Hollywood power brokers and agents, named himself "J.B., The Starmaker," and let his foolishness embarrass Roy, when he put him with some of "Ellie's" critters and somehow a black bear with sunglasses and a tambourine to give "cousin Roy" a back-up band.
This, I think, is where you could smell "burn-out," of the show's scriptwriters who were working frantically to create "new ignorance," if you will, to blend into the lives of "The Clampetts," on a weekly-basis, a feat beyond the endurance of Superman.
HERE ARE SOME "CONCRETE FACTS" THAT WENT WITH "THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES" . . .
- "Jethro" was always stupid. Saying stupid things. And creating stupid ways for him to be re-created, or re-invented as a city dweller.
- "Ellie Mae," was always the fiery "bobcat-in-blue- jeans," who strayed far away from a true relationship with the men who went in and out of the "Clampett's" lives. Namely, Larry Pennell, who was "Dash Rip Rock," an actor in the film studio that "Drysdale" talked "Jed" into buying. "Dash," was real, sincere and drawn to "Ellie," but thanks to purist scriptwriters, she remained single until the show was finally cancelled.
- "Drysdale" was always the greed-driven banker, never being content to just enjoy his huge bonus checks from the board of directors of the bank.
- "Granny" and "Margaret Drysdale" were always mortal enemies.
"I" HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ORIGINAL "HILLBILLIES" SHOW
- "Jed," obviously the wiser of "The Clampetts," well, my question is: Why wasn't he this wise when he lived in the hills? Point: With his wisdom, couldn't he keep his family fed?
- What was "Granny" doing living with "Jed" to begin with?
- Why did "Jed's kin" insist on "The Clampetts," going to the big city?
- Why did "Jed" never ask "Mr. Drysdale," just how many millions he really had in his bank?
Sometimes even in a working situation, some outside-improvements and ideas are needed.
This is where "I" come in.
If "I" could pull it off. And honestly, get away with it. I would today in 2012, own my own television production studios with the most-expensive equipment money could buy. I'm talking editing, filming, re-enchancing, and special effects that would make Avatar look like "Buster Keeton Goes to Town," in the perfect fashion that "I" would take the best episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies," and totally start over. From scratch, if you will.
I mean, let's face it. With billions at my disposal, "I" could do what "I" want with "The Beverly Hillbillies," but it would all be good. I promise.
With George "Star Wars," "American Graffiti" Lucas, of Industrial Light and Magic, a company he made from the millions he made from "Star Wars," we could rule the world of entertainment. Easy and slick. No strings attached. Just me and my wayward excitement of taking something that is established and making it a notch better.
I would call "my" project: "The New Beverly Hillbillies: Upgrade 2012," and here are the things that I would change about the show. And by the way, this is a true "labor of love."
- "Jed Clampett," in the beginning, would be the same, but my goodness, I would allow the character to grow and evolve as the years went by for him in Beverly Hills, California. No person, and not even the most-rural hill person is ignorant forever.
- "Jethro," would be treated the same, but learn to respect women. His call of "Goooolleee, thar's some gurls in that thar house," would be of non-effect. And not heard. I would eventually allow him to own his own business, a real business in Beverly Hills, but with the stipulation that he pay back his "Uncle Jed," for the investment funds.
- "Granny," WOULD be allowed to brew all of her "Spring Tonic" that she wanted. That is until one day, she realizes that she could "give something back" to Beverly Hills and people everywhere, by re-inventing her mixture for the "Tonic," into a perfect health drink that would allow people to live a much-healthier life.
- No silly guest stars such as Shug Fisher who played the "down home too much," "Shorty Kellum," who was running away from the "Widow Bradshaw," back in Bugtusle, the small place in the road in the hills that "The Clampetts," called a big town. And if non-acting-celebrities were cast on "my" show, they would be expected to have an acting and voice coach. No more looking more foolish if you do not have to.
- And hire some help for the cleaning and upkeep of the Clampett mansion. That would be for me, top priority. Realistic thinking says that "Granny" is already too elderly to keep-up this daunting task.
- I would have "Ellie" to have a serious and long-lasting relationship with a man who is sensitive and accepting of her "backwoods" ways and not strive to change her, but allow her grow as a woman. In her life I would let her start UCLA to major in Animal Husbandry and with "Uncle Jed's" dough, she could pay for her four-years of study with one swipe of her American Express Card.
- "Jethro," with his super-human strength, could carry-on, in my "Hillbillies," project, his dad's boxing career and face an opponent from time to time, but what "Jethro" really loves is to train young boxers to be like his (real) dad, whose photo hangs on his office wall.
- And yes, "Jed," will also taste romance and start wearing suitable clothes for a man of his means. His romance would involve a widow back near his home back in the hills who has just lost her millionaire-husband, also in the oil business, and with "Jed"s make-over, Cupid can handle the rest.
- "NO" stupid story lines in "my" "Hillbillies," but true-to-life events and adventures that are believable.
- And YES, I would have "Jed and his kin" driving a Chevy pickup truck, a new Silverado instead of the old truck.
Notable guest stars that appeared on CBS-TV's "Beverly Hillbillies"
- Rosemary DeCamp
- Dave Draper (once) Mr. Universe
- Louis Nye
- Roy Clark
- Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
- Larry Pennell
- Phil Silvers
- Pat Boone
- Shad Heller
- Shug Fisher
- Frank Wilcox
- Bea Benaderet
I have to brag, but "I" think I have a winner in the making in this "New Beverly Hillbillies: Upgrade 2012," project.
Before I forget, I would keep the original theme music "Ballad of Jed Clampett," sung by Jerry Scoggins and played by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs because all things new are not necessarily good things.
"Y'all come back, heah!"
"This has been a Filmways presentation.)