The Beverly Hillbillies and Mister Ed


The Beverly Hillbillies (1962 – 1971)
Mister Ed (1958 – 1966)
Type: Crossover
Group: 15

   I'm usually pretty tough on potential crossovers where there might be some doubt if it's legit, where a character may or may not be a character from another show. I like to hear them use that character's name. This is a case where even though there could be some doubt the crossover is legit, I say it is.

   Here we have two high concept sitcoms bumping into each other. The Beverly Hillbillies told the story of a family of hillbillies who accidentally strike "black gold", "Texas tea"... oil, okay... and move to Beverly Hills. Jed Clampett was the simple but wise patriarch. His daughter Elly May was gorgeous but innocent and great with animals (her "critters"). Jethro was Jed's nephew: physically strong, mentally dopey. Rounding out the clan was Granny, a feisty old lady who knew everything about "doctoring"...in her opinion.

   Mister Ed told the story of Wilbur Post. Wilbur and his wife Carol moved into a new house only to discover the previous owner had left his horse, Ed (Mister Ed if you're nasty!) behind. And, it turns out, Ed could talk! But he only revealed this to Wilbur. Very similar in concept to the old Francis The Talking Mule movies. Anyhow, as the saying goes, wackiness ensued.

   The crossover happened in an episode called Love And The Single Horse. Now...I have a lot of logic problems with this episode. When I was a kid watching TV shows with my grandpa I would always get mad about dumb plotting. Whenever I'd complain about someone in a show doing something stupid he say, "Well if they didn't do that the show would end early." This is an episode I would have complained about. Without inexplicable decisions by characters there'd be no episode. I know I'm talking about a show about a talking horse so it might sound dumb that I want to hold it to a high standard but...I can buy a talking horse easier than much of this episode.

   The episode starts with Ed having written his memoirs, the title of which is also the name of this episode. He loans it to Wilbur to read. No problem. He hides it behind a magazine as he reads it in bed. But he's laughing so hard that his wife becomes interested. What is so funny in a magazine? Wilbur dozes off, Carol takes the manuscript from him and reads it. She loves it! Wilbur wakes up and is nonplussed that Carol is reading Ed's book. She thinks Wilbur has written it and wants him to publish it. This is the first sticking point for me. All Wilbur has to do is lay down the law. He needs to say, no, I didn't write it, not mine to publish, back off. He tries to do this but he's so bumbling he kind of messes it up. So, okay, forgivable.

   The next day Wilbur discovers Carol has taken the book to a publisher and sold it. Wilbur is thrown for a loop. He runs to the publisher to try and fix things. He tries to stop the publication but he gets hamstrung by the fact that he can't say, "My horse wrote the book." This is all crazy. First of all...his wife just sells a book she assumes he wrote? Yeah, he needs to have a real serious talk with his wife. There should be shouting. I mean...who does that? And with both Carol and the publisher the fact that Ed wrote the book shouldn't hinder him fixing things. Irrelevant! All he has to do is tell them both he didn't write the book and that his wife had no legal right or authority to sell the book in the first place. But as my grandpa would say, then that would be the end of the episode. I can kind of give even this a pass as Wilbur doesn't exactly have a strong backbone. He's kind of a schlub. But it makes me mad! I'm like, Wilbur, be a man, take control! But...things get weirder…

   Wilbur explains to Ed what happened. Ed gets pissed off and runs away. He leaves a note that very clearly indicates he has run away to a wax museum. This is the part I just can't get past. It's idiotic. I buy the running away but why would a talking horse run away to a wax museum? A horse is a physically active animal. He should want to run away to where he can run free. And he can TALK! You think he'd want to go somewhere where he can maybe get a new friend he can shoot the breeze with. Nope. He runs away to a place where he not only can't run he has to stand stalk still and where he has to remain absolutely silent. Wilbur might be a dope but Ed is smart. Why would he do this??? No other reason than they had some waz museum bits they wanted to trot out.

   Wilbur goes to the wax museum and finds Ed in a display about the old west standing next to a wax Indian. Ed starts talking to Ed trying to convince him to come home. This of course makes him look insane. When confronted by a guard who thinks he's crazy Wilbut tries to explain Ed is a real horse. He then tries to prove it by making monkey faces at Ed trying to make him laugh. Again, this made me mad. I mean...I know Wilbur is not supposed to be the sharpest tool in the shed but how moronic do you have to be to not realize what a bad idea that is??? Eventually, so that he can talk to Ed more surreptitiously, Wilbur dresses up in the wax Indian clothes. Surprise surprise this ends up making him look even more mental. My soul weeps for Wilbur Post.

   Done kvetching now. Back to the crossover stuff. When Wilbur first arrives at the museum and starts talking to Ed, the first person to discover him is an old woman played by Irene Ryan, the actress who plays Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies. She is dressed EXACTLY like Granny, which is a pretty dang specific look. She also talks like Granny. Again, Irene Ryan uses a very unique tone and accent when playing Granny. And then there was the dialogue. Seeing Wilbur talking to what seems to be a wax horse, she goes on about wanting to doctor him, put a poultice on his head...all very Granny dialogue. In addition to all this is the "audience" reaction to when she appears in the scene. She comes on and there is a surprised murmur through the "crowd". Like they're excited it's Granny. I keep putting the audience stuff in quotes because I'm pretty sure Mister Ed's audience reactions were in fact a fake laugh track. But that makes the "audience" reaction even more relevant because if it's fake that means the producers created that reaction, the producers were telling the audience, "Hey, look who it is!" Finally, in the credits they list Irene Ryan as being on the show without actually stating the name of her character. I think this was because they wanted you to think of her as Granny without actually saying it was her, likely for legal reasons. They could easily have billed her as "Old Lady At The Museum". They didn't so as to, I believe, leave it open that it was Granny.

   Kind of weird too that the end of her appearance on the show is that Granny just randomly wanders off into the museum. Sort of like, "We got our entertainment value out of her, get her outta there."

   In the end, who could imagine, Wilbur convinces Ed to come home. Ed's book does end up being published and selling quite well. In the end the publisher brings by a copy of the book for the author to sign, thinking it's Wilbur, and is shocked when it's handed back to him with an ink hoof print on it.

   A final note on this is that the publisher, Mr. Durvis, is played by Raymond Bailey who was also part of the cast of The Beverly Hillbillies playing the Clampett's banker, Milburn Drysdale. It is odd that he's on the same episode as Granny but he's not playing the same character. Not a deal breaker though. Clearly the folks behind both shows were looking to have a little visting fun with their casts. Just a good thing Elly May didn't pop over. I think Wilbur would for sure have lost Ed to her.

Other Beverly Hillbillies Crossover Links
The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres
The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction

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