Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday's Favorite OTR

Granby's Green Acres: “Granby Quits his Job” 3/30/50

Green Acres was briefly a radio show—fifteen years or so before it came to television. I didn’t know this until recently. Which is embarrassing because I write books about old-time radio and I’m supposed to know stuff like this.

Anyways, on radio, Green Acres had a very short run as a summer replacement series—but it was a really, really funny run while it lasted. Gale Gordon plays the long-suffering John Granby, a discontented banker who impulsively buys a farm and moves out of the city. Bea Benaderet is his wife and Louise Erickson is his teenage daughter.

“Granby Quits his Job” is the pilot episode. (I’m not actually sure it ever aired, as it runs a time-slot-awkward 36 minutes and may have been made purely to sell the idea to sponsors.)

Gordon and Benaderet were both brilliant comedic actors and the pilot is often hilarious. Parley Baer is Eb, the farm hand, whose ability to deliver a funny line with perfect timing proves to match that of his co-stars.

Gee whiz, this show is funny. Every scene is dripping with clever dialogue--from Granby discovering the farm has no electricity (after he’s bought the place, of course) to his side-splitting attempt to figure out how to milk a cow. Nobody this side of Edgar Kennedy could make perpetual aggravation as funny as could Gale Gordon.

But the show also has an unexpected level of sweetness to it, especially towards end of this initial episode. Mrs. Granby and her daughter have, by this time, put up with quite a lot. But when the chips are down and it looks like Granby’s crops will fail to grow (thus ending his dream of being a farmer), they pitch in to come up with a plan to help him succeed. Or at least make it appear he’s succeeded.

Why? Because despite his faults, they love him and want him to be happy. After producing a number of laughs, Granby’s Green Acres abruptly proves to have heart as well. Which, of course, just makes the funny parts that much more satisfying.

Click HERE to listen or download.

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