The Zen of Ozzie and Harriet

Posted on May 2, 2007
Filed Under Culture, Main, TV | 1 Comment

One of my favorite shows growing up was “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” I first began watching the lackadaisical “adventures” of this strikingly all-American family with my parents; later, in high school, after my folks had lost interest in the show (“Perry Mason” was more appealing) I watched alone as Ricky grew up and became a rock star and David went to college. I wondered if I ever would go to college and join a fraternity or meet the girl of my dreams and get married and live in an “Ozzie and Harriet” ranch house — just like David and Ricky. Oh what a naïve time!

Ozzie and Harriet DVDOn Tuesday, May 2, Shout! Factory released “The Best of the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” an official four-disc set with 24 episodes ranging from 1952 to 1966. (Other sets being sold are poor quality “public domain” versions of the series). This is on my must-buy list; I sorely want to find out if the show still holds the same power to lull me into an alternative universe of existence. Was life really this easy?

Least you think that this show was merely a vindication of all that was bland about the the 1950s, check out the Los Angeles Times’ writer Robert Lloyd’s Critics Notebook for Wednesday, May 2. Maybe the series had more going for it than we thought.

“Though its name has become synonymous with all that was supposedly bland about the 1950s and early 1960s, this apparently modest series about the perfectly ordinary days and nights of a midcentury nuclear family … is a masterwork of television art. While broadly popular — it was also subtler and stranger than its latter-day reputation would suggest. (Like the 1950s themselves, one might say.)

I don’t know if Ozzie Nelson was as formally ambitious as I think he was, but the thoroughness of his involvement — creator, head writer, producer, nearly the sole director, star — argue that he was TV’s greatest auteur. … The semifictional representation of his family was for all intents and purposes Ozzie’s only job. Indeed, it’s the answer to the series’ famous unspoken question, ‘Why does Ozzie never go to work?’ Because you’re already seeing him at work.”

And what about the possibility of a Zen quality to the show?

“The title says everything: ‘The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.’ Merriam-Webster defines ‘adventure’ as ‘an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks’ or ‘an exciting or remarkable experience.’ This juxtaposition of the extraordinary and the ordinary is not meant ironically or to mock suburban or small-town life. It’s rather that, when you pay attention to little things, take small challenges seriously and are open to the everyday delights of the world … the life you’re already living becomes quietly exciting.”
Read the entire article.

By the way: the house used for the opening shot in the series was the real Ozzie and Harriet house, located at 822 Camino Palmero Drive in Hollywood.


One Response to “The Zen of Ozzie and Harriet”

  1. browneyedgirl on May 6th, 2007 12:40 pm

    Loved this show, too. It was more real than Donna Reed, but Donna had more style, and the son was more of a bad boy. Oh, those bad boys.

Leave a Reply