Back in the 1960s Oliver Wendell Douglas — a high-priced New York City lawyer — fled the big city with his socialite bride Lisa to buy a rundown farm near Hooterville.
The cultural clash was immediate with Oliver becoming frustrated with how things were done in the sticks. But when all was said and done, Mr. Douglas whose idea it was to flee the rat race adored Hooterville and farming.
A simple premise. Simple enough, in fact, for CBS to milk it for a successful TV dubbed “Green Acres” that ran from 1965 to 1971.
But what if CBS were to bring back “Green Acres” in a reality TV format? Oliver, instead of being a high-priced New York City lawyer, would be a politically correct San Jose lawyer. And instead of moving to a real farm, Oliver and his bride would buy a home in a subdivision in one of our Valley cities. The show would have a different name too. It would be dubbed “Valley One-Fifth Acre.”
Oliver, just like in the original show, would fancy himself a farmer living in the country.
Given that premise, here is one script that could possibly be fashioned into a show.
ARNOLD ZIFFEL: “Oink, oink.”
LISA DOUGLAS: “What’s that noise, darling?”
OLIVER DOUGLAS: “It’s that blasted farmer Mr. Ziffel’s pig again. I warned him that if he didn’t quiet his pigs down I was going to take him to court to get an injunction against noise pollution. While I’m at it, I think I’ll file a complaint with the Department of Health about the odor from his farm. How dare he let it smell like that! It smells like a bunch of pigs. You don’t smell any such stink coming from our spread. Where’s Eb?”
EB DAWSON: “Right here, Mr. Douglas.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Good. I need you to take the tree and shrub trimmings and the concrete we ripped out last week from the patio and throw it over the fence.”
EB: “But Mr. Douglas, that’s Mr. Haney’s land.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “So what? This is the country and the closest grape vine or almond tree is hundreds of feet away. I’m entitled to toss my trash over the fence. I live in the country.”
EB: “But Mr. Douglas, it’s not . . .”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Do you want a job or not, Eb?”
With that Eb and Oliver spend the next hour or so heaving trash over the 6-foot fence and into Mr. Haney’s field. Just when they are about done, a small section of the fence suddenly opens and Lisa steps through.
MRS. DOUGLAS: “Hello, darling.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “We have a gate?”
MRS. DOUGLAS: “Of course, darling. I had it put in so I could easily access Mr. Haney’s orchards for whenever I wanted some fresh fruit. It’s better than shopping at Whole Foods darling.”
EB: “Gee, isn’t that stealing, Mrs. Douglas?”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Don’t lecture us about what’s legal and what’s not, you country bumpkin. I have a degree. I drive a $70,000 car. I went to a four-year university. I know computers. I can access www.legalloophole.com. All these farmers are nothing but hicks thinking they can stop me from using their property as I please.”
EB: “But Mr. Douglas, farmers aren’t hicks. Why, Mr. and Mrs. Monroe down the road have been using computers for 30 years to track their cow’s vaccinations, daily production and food consumption to get maximum milk production.”
The sound of traffic whizzing by a few blocks away on the four-lane thoroughfare that passes by the Douglas’ subdivision is punctured by a steady pounding. Oliver and Lisa along with Eb peek over their fence and see Mr. Sam Drucker hammering together a sign. They walk over to where he’s working.
MR. DOUGLAS: “What’s going on, Mr. Drucker?”
MR. DRUCKER: “Oh, hi, Mr. Douglas, Mrs. Douglas. I’m getting ready to submit plans for a new general store. I’m going to get rid of some of the run-down houses, clean up the corner and put in a nice, new general store.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “You can’t do that.”
MR. DRUCKER: “What do you mean?”
MR. DOUGLAS: “This is country. This is the land where farmers for centuries have worked the soil. (As Mr. Douglas speaks, patriotic music starts to fill the air.) It’s sacred ground. It is where we feed the world with amber waves of grain and fruited plains. Why, we are paving over paradise and I ask for what — so a greedy old man can make a few more bucks?”
EB: “Why does that music always start up when Mr. Douglas gets on his soap box?”
MR. DRUCKER: “Who are you calling a greedy old man?”
MR. DOUGLAS: “You sold the developer the land where he built our farm, didn’t you?”
MR. DRUCKER: “First of all, it’s not a farm, Mr. Douglas. It’s a fifth of an acre with a 4,950-square-foot house, six-car garage and artificial turf. You had no problem moving here and buying a cookie cutter of a home that was built on your precious soil. And if you want to know the truth, Mr. Fancy Pants lawyer, my land has been legally zoned commercial for years.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Its people like you who are ruining the Valley countryside!”
With that, Mr. Douglas stormed off with his wife and farmhand Eb just a step behind. As they near their fifth of an acre, a dust cloud was rolling across the sky.”
EB: “Look, Mr. Douglas. Mr. Haney must be getting his land ready to plant pumpkins. Isn’t it great? It’s going to be time to go trick or treating in a few months. I’m going to go as something scary this year. Mr. Douglas, can I borrow your clothes?”
MR. DOUGLAS: “How dare he! Lisa, get me the phone! I’m going to call the Department of Agriculture!”
Mr. Douglas barely has the phone in his hand when Hank Kimball, the county farm advisor, pulls up in his Ford Bronco sports utility vehicle.
MR. DOUGLAS: “How do you do that?”
MR. KIMBALL: “Do what, Mr. Douglas?”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Pull up every time I’m getting ready to call you. And when are you going to get a new vehicle? That contraption you drive is changing the climate? The more gas you consume, the more the ocean waters rise.”
MR. KIMBALL: “Oh, you mean the gas my SUV consumes during the 60 or so miles I need for my job. I see what you’re saying, Mr. Douglas. At 15 miles per gallon, I go through about four or so gallons a day. You’re right, Mr. Douglas. I should talk to my boss about getting us a nice $70,000 car like you have that gets 20 miles per gallon and then maybe I can live 90 miles away from by job and drive 180 miles a day to and from work. That means I’d use about nine gallons a day but if I understand you right the nine gallons that you buy for a $70,000 car doesn’t cause global warming but the four gallons I need to drive my SUV does. So, if I drive an SUV less miles than you do and use less gas, I’m destroying the earth out of greed but if I drive 180 miles a day in a more fuel-efficient car like you do and use more gas, I’m saving the earth. Gee, I never thought of it that way before, Mr. Douglas.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Never mind that. What are you going to do about all of the dust that Haney is kicking up discing his field?”
MR. KIMBALL: “What dust?”
Just as Mr. Kimball said that, a light brown cloud drifts overhead.
MR. DOUGLAS: “That dust, you idiot.”
MR. KIMBALL: “Heck, that’s not dust. That’s just part of farming.”
MR. DOUGLAS: “Why I ought to sue you all! I move my family out here to the country to enjoy the fresh air and live next to wide open fields and you guys want to do nothing but mess it all up. There ought to be a law.”
MR. KIMBALL: “There is, Mr. Douglas. It’s the right to farm disclosure statement you signed off on when your home closed escrow. It said normal farming practices are legal on ag land in this and most Valley cities. And as for someone building a business on land their own, they do have property rights just like you do. If you don’t like it, why don’t you just buy their property?”
With that, Mr. Douglas snaps.
MR. DOUGLAS: “You are nothing but blubbering hicks! All of you!”
The gate cut in the back fence opens and Arnold runs up to Lisa who then bends down so he can “oink” a few words into her ear.
MR. DOUGLAS: “Now what?”
MRS. DOUGLAS: “Oliver, Arnold is asking that you please keep the noise down and try not to play your stereo so loud. It is making the pregnant pigs nervous.”
ARNOLD: “Oink, oink. Oink.”
MRS. DOUGLAS: “Arnold also says do something about having three cars parked on your front lawn, cut your grass and don’t leave your garbage carts out in full view of the street all week long. He says you’re beginning to make his neighborhood look like a pigsty.”
Stay tuned for next week’s episode when Mr. Douglas files a lawsuit to stop the Union Pacific Cannonball from blowing its whistle when it approaches Valley track crossings.