The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: The Best of Ricky and Dave

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: The Best of Ricky and Dave
It’s usually a fallacy to believe that the culture of the past was squeaky clean and innocuous but Ozzie and Harriet shows you just how historical stereotypes are born. The insanely popular ’50/’60s TV staple has the kind of kindly, stolid father (Ozzie Nelson) we all associate with the period, with the perfectly-coiffed wife (Harriet Nelson) and sweetly misguided children (Ricky and David) that have misadventures so mild they’d never pass muster in the post-Sopranos universe. Watching this selection of 24 episodes — apparently arranged to glorify David and the tragically departed Ricky — you become amazed at the fact that entire episodes could be arranged around the issues of lost keys and how to explain them to your children, and how every other topic, serious or not, gets the same kind of flat line treatment. As time goes by (i.e., 1953 to 1966), the kids grow up and become interested in girls, but the fuzzy pedagogical tone never disappears. In early episodes, there’s even a next-door neighbour in a loud jacket (Don DeFore) to provide a mutedly libidinal counterpoint and occasional pointless, toothless conflicts. Ozzie is cute and non-threatening to that extent that nobody’s dad ever was, and the absurdly "civilised” tone of debate is hilariously stifling. Compare this to rival family sitcom Leave it to Beaver and you see how this could have gone better — where that show had a sense of proportion and a bigger sense of fun, the goody-goody vibe of Ozzie and Harriet means that the plots are sketchy and the jokes on a level beneath Bazooka Joe. Not for anyone with an ounce of cool, unless they also have inhuman reserves of irony and scorn. Extras include 12 musical performances by Ricky Nelson, three radio episodes and a trivia quiz. (Shout! Factory)