Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet on DVD

For a record-breaking fourteen seasons and 435 episodes, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet aired on ABC-TV from 1952 through 1966, becoming one of the most cherished cultural touchstones of the twentieth century. The gentle humor of the prolific and popular sitcom was brought to the screen by the real-life Nelson family: Ozzie and wife Harriet with their sons, David and Rick, all portraying themselves in a trend-setting blend of fact-meets-fiction comedy decades before Seinfeld and other semi-reality based shows. ​ 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet humorously chronicled the daily lives of the Nelson family as David and Ricky grew up before millions of weekly viewers. The band leader and singer began their association on radio as a weekly staple on Red Skelton's radio program, then became the stars of their own radio program. 

Oddly, the weekly half-hour situation comedy began on radio in the middle of a fourth season, the prior seasons known under a different name where Ozzie and Harriet were not the principal players, but rather the supporting players. Many years ago I had the privilege of scanning into PDF files tens of thousands of archival materials including every radio and television script, production notes, inter office memos, and more. It was here that I learned about their early radio history and why everyone in the hobby of old-time radio had an episode guide that started in the middle of the fourth season.  

It was on my slate to one day write a book documenting the history of the radio and television sitcom. Regrettably, time is against me. Too many projects, too little time. 

Flash forward a few years later when David Nelson, who was in the process of having the entire series digitally restored from archival elements, passed away before finishing his project. He had a crowd funding effort, if I recall, and I was a major (if not the largest) financial supporter for the cause. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the project is indeed completed and thanks to MPI Home Video, the first two seasons are available commercially on DVD. Personally, I prefer the early seasons when the boys were boys and not teenage heartthrobs and the stories were wholesome family entertainment like the early seasons of Leave it to Beaver.

Yes, many of the episodes from the series fell into the public domain and you can easily acquire over 100 episodes on a DVD box set for a bargain price -- but the trade-off is the picture quality. Many are transferred from 16mm strike downs -- others from VHS from those 16mm strike downs. Worse, many of the companies compressed the video files to the lowest without pixelation so prior DVD releases have been below par in terms of picture and sound.

Like many projects, remember the financial support will mean future releases so do yourself a favor and buy Season One and Season Two today. With so many DVD releases in the past, it can be difficult to find the exact sets you want to own so I am providing direct links below for your convenience. (I also posted photos of the DVD covers so you can be sure to get the correct ones.) As for myself, I purchased a dozen of each for gifts to friends who have never seen the series or would not spend the money themselves, to help increase the sales numbers.