An instant hit, the rural comedy was the ultimate fish-out-of-water story. The Clampett family strikes it rich in oil and move from their mountain cabin in the Ozark Mountains to the upscale neighborhood of Beverly Hills. Each hilarious episode revolves around the culture clash between the "uncivilized" Clampetts and the "civilized" culture of their elitist neighbors.
The Beverly Hillbillies's second season is "funnier than a hog on ice" as the Clampetts continue their adjustment to life in tony Beverly Hills. Not for nothing was the clan honored with Favorite Fish Out of Water at the TV Land Awards. They are shocked for example, that the community does not observe Possum Day, and it is up to their banker and next door neighbor, Mr. Drysdale, who will do anything to keep the Clampetts' $35 million in his bank, to convince the mayor to stage a parade. Wealth has not spoiled the Clampetts, who remain true to their mountain roots. They endeavor to plant crops in their front yard, and Granny (Emmy nominee Irene Ryan), "no bigger than a minute and scrappy as a bantam hen," continues to practice her spells, outraging the local medical community. And when critter-lovin' Elly Mae (Donna Douglas), simple-minded Jethro (Max Baer), and Granny do "go Hollywood" (Jethro's Brando-esque Wild One is a real hoot), it takes Jed (Buddy Ebsen) outfitted as a rhinestone cowboy to show them how ridiculous they look. Critics "mean-mouthed" The Beverly Hillbillies, but it was the ultimate "People's Choice." It was TV's top-rated show its first two years, and ran for nine seasons. At the heart of its success was that the Clampetts were not the objects of ridicule. As in classic Depression-era screwball comedies, it was the rich who were mostly made to look foolish and no match for the Clampetts' plain-spoken common sense and traditional mountain ways. In one episode, the Clampetts transform snobby Mrs. Drysdale's boring garden party into a wild success, thanks to some bluegrass music and spiked punch. This season does contain "The Giant Jackrabbit," which, if not the series' funniest half hour (Granny is bedevilled by a wayward kangaroo), was certainly its highest rated and is reportedly among the 20 top-rated TV episodes of all time. Memorable guest stars include Henry Gibson as Granny's favorite TV cowboy, who is revealed to be a faker, and bluegrass legends Flatt & Scruggs, who can be heard in each episode performing the TV theme song that even those who have never watched the show can probably recite. Peter Whitney is a welcome guest in a three episode arc as no-account mountain con man Lafe, who schemes to get his hands on some of the Clampett fortune. And that's the ill-fated Sharon Tate as Mrs. Drysdale's secretary in several episodes. This is The Beverly Hillbillies' first official DVD release (episodes from the first season are in the public domain), and they've done it up right proud with a heapin helpin' of extras, including Irene Ryan's screen test, network new show previews and promos, and an informal interview with series creator Paul Henning. Viewers have the option of watching each episode with the original Winston cigarette openings and episode tags. Mmm, doggies! --Donald Liebenson