Q & A: Green Acres Spin-offs?

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

Maybe you can answer something for me, about an episode I saw of “Green Acres” on TV LAND once.

The episode didn’t have anything to do with “Green Acres” at all. Instead, it was about a woman living in New York, and working as a secretary for a real estate firm, and her boss was played by Richard Deacon. She lived in an apartment with her sister (who was played by the woman who played Mrs. Bellows on “I Dream of Jeannie”) and brother-in-law. The “Green Acres” connection was that she was Oliver’s former secretary when the Douglases lived in New York.

Was this the pilot for a series that was never picked up? If so, can you give me info about it?

It appears, based solely on information from TV.com (here and here) as well as the Internet Movie Database, that the final two episodes of Green Acres were indeed backdoor pilots for proposed spin-offs. The first, “Hawaiian Honeymoon” (originally broadcast March 16th, 1971) saw Oliver and Lisa Douglas heading to Hawaii for a fifth honeymoon. Trouble arises when another couple are accidentally also booked in the honeymoon suite. Visitors to the hotel, operated by a man and his college-age daughter, would have provided the humor in the suggested spin-off.

The final episode of Green Acres provided the second attempt. “The Ex-Secretary” (originally broadcast April 28th, 1971) is described above by K11j527. It starred Elaine Joyce as Carol Rush, former secretary to Oliver Douglas (Eddie Albert’s character), as she tries to keep her boss (played by Richard Deacon) from getting taken in by a con man. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor had only limited scenes in the episode. Unfortunately, I can’t find any contemporary sources that indicate either of these episodes were backdoor pilots. However, it does seem plausible.

Given the amount of time needed to plot an episode, write a script, film it and finish post-production, the fact that two episodes of the final season of Green Acres were actually backdoor pilots suggests that the producers were aware that the show was going to be cancelled at the end of the 1970-1971 season. Perhaps they saw the tide turning against so-called rural sitcoms.

If anyone can shed light on these two episodes and confirm that they actually were backdoor pilots, please post in the comments.

19 Replies to “Q & A: Green Acres Spin-offs?”

  1. In the “Green Acres” book, author Stephen Cox said that these were indeed pilots…from Paul Henning no less..

  2. Yes, the final (two) episodes of “GREEN ACRES” were indeed “backdoor pilots” for potential series, according to Lee Goldberg’s book, “UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS: 1955 THROUGH 1988”. The first, “Hawaiian Honeymoon” [which would have been titled “PAM”, if CBS had bought it], featured Pamela Franklin and Don Porter as a father and daughter operating the “Moana Rexford” hotel in Hawaii…which is where Oliver and Lisa Douglas just happen to be spending their fifth honeymoon at. Pam, who has a slight British accent, has a penchant for creating trouble with her various “schemes” to help her friends (and her father)…which is what the proposed series would have focused on.

    The second one [with the proposed series title of either “THE BLONDE” or “CAROL”, according to Goldberg], concerned Oliver’s former secretary and her life with family and her “overbearing boss”.
    The network wasn’t interested in that one, either.

    Producer Jay Sommers was hoping at least one of those ideas would enable him to keep his production unit together after “GREEN ACRES” was cancelled in 1971. He produced another pilot starring Eddie Albert, “Daddy’s Girl”, for CBS’ 1973-’74 season. But Sommers never produced another TV series.

    1. I viewed both pilots and yes they have pilot written all over them. As far as Paul Henning knowing this was the last season for Green Acres I have to question that. Beverly Hilbillies and Green Acres still had very strong ratings although not like they were earlier. Green Acres during its last season won it’s timeslot. The new program head at CBS planned to clean house and I would beat this was a decision made secretly and announced after the season ended. I read the cast of Beverly Hilbillies was shocked when they were told of the cancelation. I always thought the purge was a mistake to cancel these shows they probably had a couple more years with strong ratings. Yes times were changing along with the taste of the American people. Both shows were getting long in the tooth. The new program head put demographics ahead of everything else and yes sponsors wanted to appeal to younger audiences. I was a teenager when thse shows were first run and I watched. What does that say about demo.
      Jay Sommers was producer but it was Paul Henning that made it happen.

      1. Actually from what i had read the new liberal producers at CBS, NBC and ABC, starting in the 70’s didn’t want any more “Backward Southern humor” like “Green acres” and “Beverly Hillbillies”, and wanted “social issue” shows starting in the 70’s like “ALL in the Family”, “one day at a time” , “room 222”, “The Brady Bunch” ,” The Courtship of Eddies Father ” and so on.

      2. The rural purge had nothing to do with “liberals.” Yes, the cancelled shows had large audiences, but they were audiences that network advertisers were not much interested in. Advertisers were willing to pay much more for access to smaller but wealthier, more sophisticated audiences. Green Acres and the others weren’t going to deliver those audiences. That’s why TV programming changed.

        This happened fifty years ago. The facts are well-established.

  3. thanks for the info. just watched both episodes, followed by the first episode of “green acres”. The last two eps had backdoor pilot written all over it. Not that its bad!

    I enjoyed them both.

    But, for the record, “GREEN ACRES” is a rare, wonderful comedy that I have enjoyed for many years, including original run. Bravo to all associated with “GREEN ACRES”.

  4. I guess I am part of a small percentage who would appreciate modern day series of Green Acres and with its rural sense of humor

  5. I don’t think it was its rural sense of humor that hooked me, but its surreal humor (also the great cast especially the fringe actors!) It took the basic framework of Petticoat Junction & added a lot of surreal situations & characters…Arnold the pig, Haney, Hank the agent, carpenters Ralph & Alf…not to mention the square egg episode, etc.

    1. Yes, the square eggs were the most surreal. Even more than a talking pig which at the time I didn’t seem to think was that bizarre. I guess I must have been a weird kid.

  6. Since the early 1970’s, there has never been a new show that are worth watching, too bad Green Acres had to quit, one of my favorites. I am a “OLD” western movie fan, and won’t turn on my t-v for “ANY” new shows.. Thank God for the old shows…

  7. Does anyone have solid information about the ratings for “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Green Acres” during the 1970-71 season? Maybe an old newspaper article as a source?
    I’d like to know just how popular they were when CBS cancelled them. I’ve seen the claim that they were in 33rd and 34th places, respectively. Someone claims that on Wikipedia. But no sources are provided.

    1. It’s weird but there’s hardly any information on the ratings for that season. There’s some on the 1969-70 season and (thanks to the Chicago Tribune) 1971-72. Their ABC competition, The Mod Squad, finished in the top 10. Don Knott’s Show on NBC was canceled. So they may well have finished in the 30s somewhere. A book on All in the Family that premiered in mid-season says that the show finished in 38th place that season and its popularity grew during 1971. It was on Tuesday night also along with Hee Haw which was in 16th place. CBS opened Tuesday nights with The Beverly Hillbillies in 1970 then 2 years later it was Maude!

  8. Actually, the final *Three* episodes of “Green Acres” were backdoor pilots for proposed Henning series.

  9. I watched Green Acres. ANDY Griffth, Mod Squad, Gilligans Island each week. But I sat my hard lean frame right in front of the TV to watch THOSE BRADLEY GIRLS on Petticoat Junction. I spent so many hours dreaming of being in that water tower with them. That little redhead, BettyJo, was the hottest thing….. Then of course there was Mary Ann on G.I. HMMMMMM most great meals had at least two courses.

  10. The final episode of “Green Acres” is probably the worst ending episode of any television series ever produced. I eagerly anticipated a wrap-up of “Green Acres” but instead was subjected to an obnoxious blonde character played by airhead actress Elaine Joyce. (If you’ve ever seen her guest star on the “Match Game” then you know why I describe her as airheaded.) A terrible disappointment! What were they thinking when they wrote this episode?! Thank goodness it was never picked up as a spin-off.

    For what it’s worth, I think the best final episodes of any television series were (in order from best): “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1977), “Newhart” (1990), and “Little House on the Prairie” (1984). While “M*A*S*H”, “Cheers”, and “Seinfeld” are considered by many to be great, the writers tried to do too much in their respective last episodes. Simple, after all, is best.

    1. I agree the episode was lousy. It was obviously a proposed pilot, as it barely had the Douglases in it. Unlike the shows you mentioned, Green Acres did not know it was their last episode, though they likely suspected it. If they had known for sure it was the last episode, they likely would have wrapped it up.

  11. Green Acres’s two pilot shows were aired on May 7-8 2021 on Me-TV. They were okay, but the regular supporting cast was greatly missed.

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