But then I found that the first person to call Green Acres "surrealistic" was probably Eddie Albert himself, in a New York Times article from near the end of the show's first season. The article, by Judy Stone, ran on April 10, 1966, and featured interviews with the two stars of the series. At one point, Albert uses the s-word to describe the show and its writing -- and then, even better, realizes that he shouldn't be over-analyzing a show that is meant only to entertain. So in one fell swoop he anticipates the show's cult following and lectures people who (and I sometimes do this) use fancy words and critical terms to justify watching the show. Eddie Albert rocked.
A great deal of revision takes place on most TV shows, Albert said, but this isn't true of "Green Acres," written and produced by Jay Sommers. The show ranked tenth in the latest Nielsen rating. "Everything Jay writes is beautifully done. A lot of people think the script is corny because it's laid in a rural community, but some of it is wonderfully surrealistic stuff. I'm in an apple orchard, wondering if the apples will keep falling and I look at one and it's an orange. I consider that very funny. Part of the show's great value is its irrelevance."
Albert suddenly looked very irritated. "This whole talk about surrealism -- in a way I'm just answering the critics about whom I don't give a damn. I'm wasting my time because I don't care what they think. I absolutely love the fact that the kids come up to me -- as thousands did at the Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia -- and ask about Elinor, the cow. They love the show. If you want to say there is more to life than this, that's a philosophical question.
Speaking of Green Acres, I've also realized that this is one of those shows where the character you identify with can change over time. I used to identify more with Oliver, the one person on the whole show who tries to hang on to the rules of real-world logic. But now I think I identify more with Lisa, because in reality, she's more logical and sensible than her husband: she accepts the ways of Hooterville and just tries to enjoy herself wherever she happens to be, while Oliver simply can't let go of his idiotic fantasy about what rural life should be like. I think I'd rather be a "Lisa" person, trying to make the best of any situation, than an "Oliver" person, trying to force the world to be something it isn't. (However, I have the opposite reaction to Moonlighting, where I completely sympathize with Maddie and consider David an asshole. And I also have a certain sympathy for the early Hot Lips on M*A*S*H, but let's not even get into that.)