Just Enough Information: Really? You really need a paragraph about what The Beverly Hillbillies is? REALLY? Just watch the damn show! The song explains the entire premise!
*sigh* Fine, you callow little punks. Jed Clampett, Arkansas backwoodsman and widower with a heart of gold, was out one day in his swamplands just a’shootin’ at some food, when up from the ground come a’bubblin’ crude. Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. With the resultant massive payout from the oil company, Jed buys a mansion in Beverly Hills next door to Milburn Drysdale, the investment banker who’s handling the Clampett account. With him, Jed brings his mother-in-law (Daisy May Moses, whom everybody calls Granny), daughter Elly May, the goregous tomboy who loves her ever-growing menagerie of wild animals, and nephew Jethro Bodine, the doofus by which all other TV doofuses are measured. The comedy, like most of the “hillfolk vs. flatlander” stories in American pop culture, comes from a combination of the Clampetts’ from-the-land family values and their complete and utter failure to understand 20th century urban America. Even after living in it for 274 half-hour episodes over the course of nine years. Go figure.
And if you grew up with a sound mind in the English-speaking world at some point in the last 40 years and somehow didn’t know any of that, your parents probably made you read instead. Or watch public TV instead. Hope you enjoyed your Dickens and your Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel while the rest of us were bouncing your ass around the playground for being a freak, you lousy Commie. But I kid because I care…
Christmas Thanksgiving Episode: “Turkey Day”. Original Broadcast: November 27, 1963.
I don’t know how useful (or long) this recap’s going to be, because if you watched this series as much as a lot of us did—and the Hillbillies have always had an unstoppable second life in reruns, especially if you lived outside the major urban centers—the episode’s plot points will probably all click into place in your head once I tell you the story involves Elly May teaching a turkey how to shake hands.
But here we go anyway…
The turkey in question has been given to the Clampetts by banker Drysdale with the understanding that he’s the Thanksgiving main course. Jed’s sharpening the axe, Granny’s getting all the non-turkey vittles ready, and Jethro’s…I dunno, he’s probably getting his eatin’ pants on. Meanwhile, Elly has found a new pet...a pet who has a date with stuffing and giblet gravy.
Jed’s kind of on the fence, first when he learns his main course now has a name (Herman) and then when his girl tells him what a smart bird Herman is. Elly: “I learned him to shake hands!” Jed: “What's gonna happen to him is bad enough without him thinking a friend did it to him!”
Jed shakes a drumstick, which is better than shaking a tail feather.
As he feared, Jed can’t drop the axe on the animal once he knows it's been Elly-fied. Granny, who won't be swayed, enlists Jethro, but honestly, you’d think she’d know better by now.
She did say clean the bird and dress the bird…
And somehow, a couple of “Indians” Mrs. Drysdale hired for a self-serving society page photo get tangled up in the mess. (“Indian #1” is played by Benny Rubin, and to be fair, the character is written like he’d be named Benny Rubin, too.)
Of course, "fair" is a relative term when this is what you're dealing with.
Our Holiday Lesson For Today: If your dinner can shake your hand, he’s probably not your dinner anymore.
But Don’t Take My Word For It: Yet another friendly stranger, this time on DailyMotion, gives us the complete episode.
TV Series: Beverly Hillbillies-Turkey Day
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(P.S to the estimable Georgia Bonesteel: Sorry about all that mess further up the column. Yours was the first name I came up with...it was you or Bob Ross. I'll make it up to you at pledge drive time.)
Next: More Hillbillies! But not until after Thansgiving. See you punks Friday!