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"Ozzie and Harriet" is often used as a buzzword for white-bread
America: Husband runs the family spouting words of manly wisdom, while
the wife stays home with the well-behaved kids. Funny thing is, the
show really isn't like that. Ozzie is a guy who apparently never goes
to work - it's a running gag throughout the show. His "great ideas"
usually lead to disaster, and usually it's Harriet who quietly gets
everything to turn out all right in the end. The kids, especially
Ricky, often shoot off at the mouth. It was even Seinfeld-esque (and I
say that as a rabid Seinfeld fan) - most episodes could fairly be
described as being "about nothing".
In truth it's one of the funniest shows ever on television. It was even cutting edge, for its time: Ozzie and Harriet slept in the same bed, which was unheard of. Ever see anyone on a TV show "break the fourth wall" (start talking to the camera)? This started on O&H - first with Ricky's end-of-show shrugs, and later with full-blown conversations directed to the camera. My personal favorite example of this is when Ozzie pretended to be a mind-reader (who of course no one recognized because of a cheesy goatee). When he gets exposed at the end, just about every character quips something or other straight into the camera.
Do yourself a favor though. Don't start off with the late episodes where the boys are grown up and married. Those can be quite funny, but the show at times was just coasting on its reputation by then. Watch the earlier stuff from when the boys were little, when Thorny still lived next door. Give yourself time to get to know the characters, and you certainly won't regret it!
This is for the person that says Ozzie and Harriet was dull! It is easy
for you too reach back in another time, take something, and criticize
it with the futures eyes. Obviously by calling anyone who watches the
show "dull, or senior" you are just showing your ignorance!!
This show, brought Rock N Roll into peoples living rooms, AND made it acceptable to their parents!! Did you know the Nelson family is the only family in history to have 3 generations become recording stars and win certain awards. (check it out) Ozzie, Ricky, and the Nelsons.
Anyone can do crude humor like Seinfield......but it really takes talent to make people laugh and to be wholesome and safe for the WHOLE family to watch!!
The Adventures and Leave it to Beaver were two of the best shows ever! And still rank better then the garbage they are turning out now, where whoever can shock the most, and show the most non-family friendly things rate highest.
I concur with the previous posts that Ozzie and Harriet was really a show "about nothing," and was quite funny until the boys got married (even then, it had its moments). Rather than showing how dull and boring the perfect traditional family could be, it celebrated the humor and fun in everyday life and its quirks. Most underrated was the comic talent of Ozzie. Not only was he hilariously adept and creative in his efforts to avoid work around the house, but when the situation resulted in physical comedy he was nothing short of amazing. I remember seeing a rerun 35 years ago, in which Ozzie has to swallow a big wad of ice cream. Just watching him, I could FEEL the brain freeze he got, and I still feel it just remembering. Personally, I like the 1952-1955 episodes with Don Defore as Thorny. The situations were believable but still funny-- Ozzie trying to convince everyone that he bought spot cleaner to help out an old lady instead of buying it to help out her sexy daughter, Ozzie scouring the town for tutti-fruity ice cream, Ozzie fretting over the rain damage that he knows he will get if he permits a nest of birds to remain in his rain gutter, Ozzie trying to send back a pair of chairs sent by mistake, Ozzie having to sleep apart from Harriet because she misinterprets Ozzie's support for separate rooms for the boys. In a way, Ozzie is a more functional and less stupid Homer Simpson. Since some of the shows can be obtained in the bargain DVD bins at Walmart and other places, do yourself a favor and give a few episodes a try.
I have had a chance to catch a number of episodes of this long-running
sitcom on Catholic Familyland. The episodes up until Rick and Dave
Nelson are married are nothing short of hysterical, but it really lost
its luster after that.
For the most part, in the very early episodes, little Ricky Nelson is very comical with the wise-cracking one liners. No wonder he was introduced as the "irrepresible Ricky".
As the boys grew up and Rick Nelson's music career took off, the episodes were more focused on showcasing Rick's singing talents, which are great! He is shown at the end of each episode performing one of his hit songs, to a group of peers, which is conveniently worked into each episode.
After Dave and Rick were married in the series, however, you see the downfall as they are now both serious adults. Moreover, Rick's wife Kris is chronically portrayed as extremely snippy and nothing short of intolerable, and it leaves you to wonder with all the nice girls Rick dated in college (in the program), how he ended up with someone like that. In every episode with Kris, she is quick to accuse, quick to jump to the wrong conclusion, quick to display jealousy, and very demanding and extremely insecure - you pretty much see Rick really getting henpecked. One really aggravating episode is when it is Kris' birthday and Rick gets her a puppy. Kris and Rick are at Ozzie and Harriet's and you constantly hear her whine in a demanding tone: "Where's my present? Where's my present?" like a little five year old. Knowing that Kris in real life was anxious to please, she was willing to embarrass herself.
I agree with one of the other reviewers that this program was one of the funniest, until Rick and Dave are grown and married. Prior to this, it showcased a number of twists and turns and keeps you compelled to watch until the end. If you can catch any of the episodes prior to the marriages, you are in for a real treat!
I think that The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, not unlike its counterparts (i.e. Leave it to Beaver), were what they were because that's what people wanted at the time. Many accounts of the 1950's are not the most interesting, but that's the way things were-culturally. With out these programs, however mundane you may find them, there would have been no examples for the family sit-com following the cultural revolution of the 1960's. I think that in today's society it is nice to look back, and see a family living together, enjoying life, and running into the occasional plot conflict. To hate Ozzie and Harriet is to hate Americana- after all that's what they were at the time of their program.You'll notice that the show ended in the late 1960's, when due to the cultural unrest in the United States, their brand of entertainment became, sadly enough, obsolete. Conclusion: take it for what it is (or was), it's a glimpse into a bygone era: a time of homemakers, fresh-baked cookies, pipe smoking dads, the milkman, and no use for the modern vulgarities of the medium.
Ah, those were the days. THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET was such a
wonderful piece of Americana, back in the days when the neighbor came
in through the back door to pay his pal a visit. Nowadays, when the
neighbor comes in through the back door, it's to spend a little time
with his pal's wife! Sad to say, many people would consider the comedy
of this wonderful sitcom as being obsolete, giving the false notion
that this show is not funny. Actually, this show was really very funny,
in spite of the lack of crude humor, the lack of profanity and the lack
of, dare I say? sexual situations.
OZZIE AND HARRIET reminds me of that mythical sitcom featured on the movie, PLEASANTVILLE.
Even though Ozzie's character wasn't the most assertive person around, he was still the man of the house and he did keep his family together. He certainly did a far better job as the man of the house than (sad to say) too many so-called assertive husbands today as the number of divorces and dysfunctional households continue to increase.
The plots were funny enough. All those clever one-liners that took place throughout the program, only made what was originally a funny episode, even funnier, yet.
Before jumping to the ignorant conclusion that this show was bland, one must also remember that this show was one of the first sitcoms to feature real rock and roll as later episodes featured Ricky Nelson performing his hits.
This show not only brought rock and roll into American living rooms, it also made it acceptable to parents, proving that rock and roll music would not destroy American society.
One story that was printed long after the series was canceled involved Ricky Nelson and his mother, Harriet. Unlike too many mothers of that era, who thought rock and roll posed a threat to modern society, Harriet commented that when she was Ricky's age, the older generation made the exact same comments (in the 1920s) about jazz.
Another story that was printed involved Ricky Nelson's first encounter with Elvis Presley. Not knowing what to expect from this encounter, Ricky was surprised to discover that not only was Elvis a nice guy, he was also a big fan of THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET.
Silent Film Producer Henry "Pathe" Lehrman, when hearing some less than
friendly words said about his L-KO Company's Comedy Shorts Series, he
reportedly angrily shouted, "MY COMEDIES ARE NOT TO BE LAUGHED
AT!"(Just one o' them stranger than fiction stories!) And so too, the
status of this longevity-rich TV series is always not so flattering.
The origin of this series as a Radio Program with the object of being a
Family Show about a Show Biz Family's private/home life, seems to have
been blunted and dulled just by the shear length of time that it
lasted. Remember, real life Band Leader(and Law Degree Bearer,who never
practiced Law)Ozzie Nelson married his Band's Female Singer Harriet
Hilliard. This was somewhere around 1935 and the hereto-for Musical
quickly became a "real" family with the birth of David(1936) and
Well, all that traveling' an' one night stands are kinda hard on family life, but since they were now also in the moving' pitcher business, sticking' with the Movies,Radio Show and whatever musical 'Gigs' they got locally, was much better for them as a family.
Like other Show Biz folks, their show morphed from the musical to the family sitcom. Eventually Ozzie would be portrayed as 'going to the office' everyday. But, what was his business? It was insurance, I think! At first some juvenile actors portrayed the boys, but eventually the got to be themselves, so to speak.
So much of the series was preoccupied with family stuff, growing pains, "discovering" girls, music, the malt shop, high school, college, sports, the old "gang", the Fraternity(was it "I-Felta-Thie"?),the Holidays, Golf, Neighbors, etc., etc.,....
Well, that made the years pass and the 'Boys' were getting' on in years themselves. The Chronology sometimes got a little fouled up and sometimes an unusual occurrence would happen. For example: Dave's school buddy, Wally Plumpsted(Skip Young)evolved into Rick's school buddy, Wally Plumpsted. It happened gradually and incrementally so it was barely noticed.
Always in a state of flux, as is any series with such longevity(just check the cast changes that have occurred in LAW & ORDER or E.R.)the Nelsons were always willing to put the Family to work at "the Office". So, when the 'Boys' each took unto themselves a Woman to be his Wife, old Oz put them on. Both David's Wife,June Blair(Woo,woo,woo,woo!) and Rick's Mrs.Krisyin Harmon(again, Woo,woo,woo,woo!)came on as semi-regulars.
And some of the regulars in the Cast over the years were:Mary Jane Croft & Lyle Talbot(Clara & Joe Randolph), Don DeFore('Thorny'), Parley Baer(Darby)Frank Caddy(Doc)and others.
And as for Mr.Oswald George Nelson, what can we say? He had show business in his family background, including Circus Performers! And all he did was Create the Series, Write and contribute to Scripts,Produce,Play the Lead and play a little Saxophone on occasions. He is a most interesting fellow!
Much like Disneyland, we tend to view OZZIE & HARRIET as being unrealistic, too 'Apple Pie',too 'Middle American' and just a tad corny.
But, when viewed again after a hiatus of some years, you were to take a viewing of some of the episodes, your attitude would surely change for the better. How well these episodes stand-up as individual comedies!
Oh, excuse me I have to go to the Office, after a stop at the Malt Shoppe!
I really liked the series- a true American Classic. I agree with another poster about Wally Plumstead- he provided many humorous moments and actually carried the series for many of the episodes. I think I recall that there were some episodes where only Wally appeared and Rick was featured at the end in a separate filmed performance of his band. Also, the episodes with Thorny and the situations with Ozzie were definitely the most humorous in the series. Just one thing on your stats as far as appearances for each of the main characters. It says Harriet, David and Ricky each appeared in 172 episodes, where Ozzie was in 171. How could this be, since there were at 435 episodes total?
On screen, Ozzie may have been something of a good-natured fuddle, but
off he had to be one sharp cookie. Lawyer, band-leader, producer,
director, writer, actor, plus 13-year old Eagle Scout, that perpetual
grin hid one talented guy. Then too, those Eagle Scout ideals fit in
perfectly with the post-war period. From 1952-66, the show came into a
ton of homes, mine included. It was a time when families were getting
back together after a bad economy, a big war in Europe, plus a little
one in Korea. Family life was treasured, and with any luck it gathered
around a new-fangled TV in an expanding suburb. A very different time
from now, one of expanding prosperity and opportunity.
One thing you knew when you tuned in, it would be a "wholesome" half-hour. Nothing controversial or serious. For better or worse, never anything about politics, sexual innuendo, or the outside world. Typically, it might be Oz trying to get his lawn-mower back from neighbor Thorny (DeFore) who doesn't want to move his car. True, it was a series basically about nothing. But the entries were nearly always amusing. Maybe not hilarious, but always worth a few head- nodding chuckles. Yes, life's trivial little problems could be entertaining if you were a gifted Ozzie Nelson.
Of course, Harriet was a big part of the humorous situations, always a voice of calm and good sense. Maybe vaguely amused by Oz's latest half-digested scheme. Wisely, I think, the show reserved any ditsy elements for neighbors or friends, a proved formula over the decades. That way the characters could drop in or out as needed. Importantly, however, characters like Clara Randolph (Croft) may be on the ditsy side but they were never exaggerated or mocked. Then too, except for sinister types, it looks like about every supporting player in Hollywood was on the show at one time or another.
At first, the boys-- a reliable David and a wise-cracking Ricky, oops! I mean Rick (as he preferred)-- blended in and out as junior members. But as they grew, the boys became more central, proving adept at the series low-key style. Then, of course, Rick became a teen R&R idol, a real risk for the show, given R&R's controversial influence on teens. Still, Oz proved as adept at handling that touchy phase as any other. In fact, many of us sort of grew up with Dave and Rick. But, I agree with others. Once the boys married, the show had outlived its appeal. Then too, times were changing. By 1966, Vietnam was heating up and so was the youth counter-culture, while a groundbreaking "All In The Family" (1971-79) and a very different kind of TV dad were only a few years off. An era had indeed ended.
Sure, in our own lid-is-off times, the show would likely never fly. For better or worse, it was very much an idealized reflection of its time. I recall even reading about folks who were unhappy because their family was not at all like the Nelsons. In a sense, as entertaining as they were, the TV Nelsons did exist in a societal vacuum, an ideal embodiment of that era. Still, I'm not at all sure that we're better off without it. I do regret, however, that Ozzie never appeared to get the industry recognition his low-key talent deserved. But then that sort of thing never does have a time limit.
One of the big jokes about The Adventures Of Ozzie&Harriet was just
what did Ozzie do for a living. I think that it was hoped that people
would remember from radio and film that Ozzie was a bandleader and
crooner coming up around the same time Bing Crosby did. Harriet was
also a singer, but now a full time mom raising their two sons.
You have to view Ozzie&Harriet from a longer perspective. They were on radio for a dozen years before the TV series debuted in 1952. The births of David and Ricky were as much a part of our national folklore as Lucille Ball's most televised birth of little Ricky. And on radio it was known Ozzie was a musician.
It's not like there were any gags or routines on the show and Ozzie was not an idiot father being put down by his kids. Harriet certainly was an All American mom. I wish she had sung a little, she was a great singer in 30s and 40s. Just idealized family life in the Eisenhower years.
The show might have died had it not been discovered that Ricky Nelson inherited musical talent from his parents. He became quite the rock and roll king, but he could never be anything more than a good kid with Ozzie and Harriet raising him. No sullen Elvis Presley like rebellion in a Nelson.
Ricky had a string of some pretty good hits for about 10 years with a built in audience to introduce them. It added a whole new generation of fans for the Nelsons until musical tastes changed.
Change it did, the all American home wasn't playing quite so good in the counterculture 60s. But The Adventures of Ozzie&Harriet still has its place in our cultural history.
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