The year CBS killed everything with a tree in it

Re: Wasilla Hillbillies, I found myself watching The Beverly Hillbillies recently with the sound off (but with subtitles) while working out on the Arc Welder or whatever it’s called at the Y, and thinking “wow, this is a really good show.”  The writing and acting seemed sharp and hilarious; I especially admired the physical comedy of Irene Ryan as Granny.  I kind of inanely mused, as I huffed and puffed, about the cleverness of the very idea of the “Beverly Hills Hillbillies,” re-imagining the “hills” of L.A. as a site of displaced rural Southernness.  So most likely I was just having a weird exercise endorphins reaction.

In any case, bear with me and check out these fascinating/weird tidbits from wikipedia:

Cancellation and “the Rural Purge”

Nielsen ratings for the 1970-71 season indicate that the bottom had dropped out for the perennial Top 30 series but was still fairly popular when it was canceled in 1971 after 274 episodes. The CBS network, prompted by pressure from advertisers seeking a more sophisticated urban audience, decided to refocus its schedule on several “hip” new urban-themed shows, and to make room for them, all of CBS’s rural-themed comedies were simultaneously canceled. This action came to be known as “the Rural Purge“. Pat Buttram, who played Mr. Haney on Green Acres, famously remarked that, “It was the year CBS killed everything with a tree in it.”[2]

In addition to The Beverly Hillbillies, the series that were eliminated included Green Acres, Mayberry R.F.D. and Hee Haw.

And some surreal details about the Granny character:

She was extremely scrappy and was an expert at wielding a double-barreled, 12-gauge shotgun, although the one time she actually fired it, unknown to her, Mr. Drysdale had replaced the shotgun pellets with bacon rind and rock salt after he arranged for Hollywood stuntmen to dress up as fake Native Americans to “attack” the Clampett mansion. She was also able to tell the precise time, to the minute and even the second, by looking at the position of the sun. ….Two of Granny’s phobias were “Injuns” (she actually bought wigs so the Clampetts wouldn’t be “scalped”) and the “cement pond” (she has a fear of water). In a long story arc in the show’s eighth season, Elly May dates a U.S. Navy frogman, which confuses Granny: After seeing the frogman climb out of the pool in his skin-diving wear, she thinks that anyone who swims in the pool will be turned into a frog.


I think this was one of the shows that I would only watch when I was home sick from school. There was a taboo in our household on watching television during the daytime, so there was something distinctly unhealthy and corrupt-feeling about lying on the couch with a fever, drinking ginger ale (also only permitted when sick) watching hours of reruns.  I associate Family Affair, which I think was pretty awful, with this as well.

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