(1963-1970) is the intermediate entry in Paul Henning's trio of rural sitcoms, which also included The Beverly Hillbillies
and Green Acres
. It centered on Kate Bradley, mother of three and owner of a quaint hotel called the Shady Rest in the small town of Hooterville. She was allegedly aided by Uncle Joe, who tried to avoid getting involved in anything resembling work. Most episodes were about Kate trying to move along her girls' love lives, or one of Joe's money-making schemes. From time to time, the railroad company would threaten to take away Hooterville's mostly unnecessary rail line, but Kate would always straighten them out, since she needed the train to bring her guests.
Petticoat is known for its numerous cast changes; to start, there were the three daughters, Billie Jo, Betty Jo and Bobbie Jo (just don't ask which one's which). Only one of them was played by the same actress through the entire series, and another daughter was recast twice. Then, Bea Benederet, who played Kate, fell ill and died, resulting in the casting of a substitute, June Lockhart. Lockhart's character, the town doctor, didn't really have Kate's charisma, and the remaining episodes tended to focus more on the married daughter's home life. There was some turnover in the supporting cast along the way.
Kate was related to The Beverly Hillbillies
via Cousin Pearl (also played by Bea Benederet), who in turn was the cousin of a man named Jed. Eventually, Oliver and Lisa Douglas settled in Hooterville, resulting in the birth of Green Acres
. Characters from each of these shows appeared on the others
at one point or another.
Tropes featured include:
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Happens at least Once an Episode, usually to try and thwart Homer Bedloe's attempts to scrap the Cannonball.
- Big Eater: Uncle Joe.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Each of the Bradley girls.
- The Cast Showoff: An early example; while the first Bobbie Jo (as played by Pat Woddell)got to show her singing skills; this really didn't become prevalent until Meredith MacRae took over as Billie Jo in 1966. Soon after, several songs featuring the actresses playing the sisters began to be produced.
- Steve Elliott, as portrayed by actor/singer Mike Minor, often got musical numbers as well.
- Cool Train: The Hooterville Cannonball, which functions as not only the main rail service from Hooterville to Pixley, but also as a taxi service for Kate, amongst other odd and funny operations.
- Eccentric Townsfolk
- Expository Theme Tune: "Come ride the little train that is rolling down the tracks to the junction/Petticoat Junction..."
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: One line in the theme song goes "Lots of curves, you bet..." just as the clip of the girls' petticoats are seen on the exterior of the water tank.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Just try to say "Hooterville" without smirking. Go ahead, try.
- Mean Boss: Mr. Carson could often be as mean as Bedloe, though it's usually to help out Kate and Co.
- Only Shop in Town: Drucker's Grocery Store is this to Hooterville.
- The Place
- Quirky Town
- Too Dumb to Live:Why Floyd works for the railway and is never fired is a mystery.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Paul Henning based the series on a little town his wife knew in her childhood.
- Theme Naming: Billie Joe, Bobbie Jo, and Bettie Jo. This has become something of a Memetic Mutation; on other shows, when two people have similar names, expect a jab at Petticoat Junction to be made.
- The Scrooge: Homer Bedloe
- Literally in the first season Christmas Episode "Cannonball Christmas" ... He's determined to close the Cannonball on Christmas Eve even though his own Boss wants him to leave the Hootervillians alone.
- Shop Keeper: Mr. Drucker.
- Skinny Dipping: The opening shows the girls skinnydipping in the water tank. In fact that's how that particular location gets its (unofficial) name, from the girls' petticoats draped over the side of the tank.
- Though at least one episode showed the girls actually swimming in the tank, in swimsuits. An attempted subversion?
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dr. Craig for Kate.
- Sweet Home Alabama
- Wrench Wench: Betty Jo.