The Beverly Hillbillies: Season 4, Episode 6

The Possum Parade (20 Oct. 1965)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Family
7.8
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Title: The Possum Parade (20 Oct 1965)

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Harriet E. MacGibbon ...
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Bill Baldwin ...
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Barney Elmore ...
Chauffeur Parkins
Maurice Kelly ...
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Francisco Ortega ...
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Comedy | Family

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20 October 1965 (USA)  »

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Great Color Episode
18 July 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Beverly Hillbillies" was one of the most popular shows ever. It was hated by critics, who never tried to understand it. The show concerned a country family moving to the city and trying to make sense of its ways. Though it was anything-for-a-laugh like so many of the best 1960s TV sitcoms, its premise allowed a lot of good satire on modern ways.

Usually, the satire came through the eyes of Jed Clampett. While Jed was uneducated, he was not stupid. In early shows his sagacity was often phrased almost childishly as he innocently observed better ways of doing things than occurred to up-to-date city folks.

Among the more satirical episodes were the two-show sequence "Possum Day" and "Possum Parade." In the first show, the family is going back to the hills for an old-fashioned Possum Day celebration, where Granny, Jed's mother-in-law and the matron of the clan, wants to run for Possum Queen. As soon as they are out of the driveway, Mrs. Drysdale, their next-door-neighbor who has tried to get rid of them for years, puts "For Sale" signs on their mansion.

To keep the family happy and in town, Banker Drysdale persuades them that Beverly Hills is going to throw the biggest Possum Day celebration ever. And he persuades Granny that his wife, Mrs. Drysdale, is also trying to run for Possum Queen. Beating Mrs. Drysdale gives Granny the incentive to stay in town.

While both episodes are funny, "Possum Parade" is not only one of the best episodes after the Hillbillies went to color, it also is a biting satire on politics. And, judging by the campaign of 2012 during which I'm writing, it's still as current as ever.

In "Possum Parade" Granny's campaign against Mrs. Drysdale is in full swing. The Clampetts have a campaign vehicle (a gaily festooned truck) and slogans that are less about voting for Granny than what a dog Mrs. Drysdale is. (Riding around in the truck, Granny shouts through a megaphone, "Anyone who would vote for Mrs. Drysdale would suck eggs!")

To encourage Granny, Banker Drysdale sticks all sorts of slogans on his car about voting for Mrs. Drysdale for Possum Queen. Mrs. Drysdale, unaware of these signs, drives by the Clampett mansion, making the race heat up.

In one of the most biting bits of satire in the run of the "Hillbillies," the Margaret Drysdale for Possum Queen Committee goes on the radio with an extensively-edited tape taken from an innocent conversation, to make it sound like Mrs. Drysdale is lambasting Granny publicly.

In this episode, Jed gives a brilliantly-written campaign speech against Mrs. Drysdale. One of the Possum Queen's perks is her weight in possum-flesh. Jed points out to a bewildered crowd that Granny weighs a lot less than Mrs. Drysdale. If Mrs. Drysdale wins, she will require more possums. "And where will those extra possums come from?" he demands, in a quivering voice of doom, "From your own back yard!"

I live in the country and have possums in my back yard, and Mrs. Drysdale can have them. The absurdity of it is funny enough, but this episode's similarity to twenty-first century campaigns is eerie, with one side hammering the other as a rotten so-and-so, and the other side trying to make the point that all the first side does is take, take, take.

A bonus on this episode is what may be the final inclusion of the ever-beautiful Sharon Tate as Janet Trego.

While hitting the political nail on the head, this proves satire can be spot-on and extremely funny without being mean-spirited. And it works for all audiences. If you're a city person you can laugh at the antics of those dumb country bumpkins; and if you're a country boy you can laugh at how silly the city slickers are.


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