Friday, April 27, 2007


Via a post at Jaime Weinman’s Something Old, Nothing New (and the Home Theater Forum post that reveals the depressing news) I’ve learned to my consternation that the Shout! Factory release of The Best of The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet due out the first of May will contain the heavily-edited syndicated versions of the cherry-picked episodes of the long-running domestic comedy; last seen in repose on the afternoon schedule of GoodLife TV (“the channel where old TV shows go to die”).

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this turn of events.  First, I preordered the set—which usually spells trouble from the get-go.  Second, during its stint on GoodLife, Ozzie & Harriet were paired with another famous 50s sitcom family, the Williams’s (Danny, Kathy, Terry, Rusty and Linda) of Make Room for Daddy (a.k.a. The Danny Thomas Show) fame—a series also put cut to ribbons in syndication and whose repeats were used for the first (and of this writing, only) DVD release (dubbed “The Complete Fifth Season,” completely ignoring the Jean Hagen years).  On this boxset, the celebrated episode that served as the pilot for what later became The Andy Griffith Show is practically incomprehensible due to its chainsaw-like editing, a fate that also befell the Daddy episode that introduced Joey Bishop in the pilot for his 1961-65 sitcom.  (Though I maintain that much of the slicing-and-dicing of that half-hour is an insidious conspiracy instigated by Marlo Thomas to keep people from seeing what she looked like before she learned she didn’t have to go through life with her father’s nose.)

Since David Nelson has decided to go the cheap rate with his family-sanctioned DVD set. I’m guessing that the “radio episodes” that are to be included as extras in this collection are probably ones already in circulation among old-time radio fans.  I had heard quite some time ago (and I apologize for not having the full story—it’s hell getting old) that more of Ozzie & Harriet’s radio “adventures” are extant—only they’re under lock-and-key in some library collection of some college (I believe my source said Northwestern, but I could be wrong about this), tucked safely away from an admiring public.  This is a similar fate that befell some of Fred Allen’s broadcasts, which are now ensconced in the Boston Public Library (where Allen was employed while a mere sprat) so that greedy OTR entrepreneurs can’t get hold of them and sell them to people like myself.  (Joe Mackey and I once discussed an elaborate Ocean’s Eleven-like plot to rescue these tapes…but admittedly, the master plan is still in its embryonic stages.)

I don’t know if any Ozzie & Harriet fans are going to bite the bullet and still purchase the Shout! Factory set despite this revelation (in fact, I don’t know many Ozzie & Harriet fans period) but I will suggest an alternate route: check out this latest Mill Creek Entertainment release.  It’s advertised as Fun with Ozzie & Harriet, a public domain collection of thirty-eight episodes…but if you order it from Deep, it will arrive at your doorstep with one hundred episodes under the title The Essential Ozzie & Harriet Collection.  All for the low price of $6.58, which you cannot beat with a stick.

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