Welcome to the Henningverse!
In 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies premiered. Created by Paul Henning, the sitcom quickly became a hit much to the consternation of the critics who hated it. It’s success permitted Henning to create another show the next year, Petticoat Junction. In 1965, along came Green Acres, which was produced by Henning but created by Jay Sommers, who’d worked on Petticoat Junction and was tapped by Henning for the third show as he was busy with the previous two. The three shows lasted until the Rural Purge in the early ’70s.
From Beverly Hills to Hooterville: Exploring TV’s Henningverse 1962-1971 is an excellent companion guide for all three series. Covering a combined 666 episodes of all three shows, each episode comes with a synopsis, review, and technical details such as writer, director, and an air date, as well as Nielsen ratings for each season and time slots for each show. The episode reviews are arranged in a layered sort of way that gives you an idea of how the Henningverse was operating during any given season.
Dan provides context for the origins of the Henningverse, the popularity of Westerns at the time, and the intense dislike of the critics. He wraps up the book with talk of the Rural Purge, mentions of the various reunions, and his final thoughts on each series. There are also interesting notes and factoids scattered throughout.
It’s a hefty tome -over 700 pages. But considering that it contains words on every episode of three series, it’s not an unreasonable length when you think about it.
If you’re a fan of Dan’s podcasts (and you should be), this book is very much in his voice. His humor is present and his observations are keen as always.
Am I biased because Dan is a friend? Maybe. But I am familiar with Dan’s quality content, including his book ’80s Action Movies on the Cheap, and I feel like he’s written yet another book that’s a must-have, in this case for retro television fans.
It’s available in paperback and for Kindle over at Amazon. Bulk up your bookshelf.