The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet (1952-1966)
Ozzie's Girls (1973)
Type: Spin Off
When Paul Reiser came up with the sitcom Mad About You, his goal was to do a sitcom about married life that showed married life like it really was. His inspiration was the original Dick Van Dyke Show and on both programs the devotion to realism extended to the point of the writers drawing episodes out of their real life experiences. Sometimes this was to the point of the writers actually getting in trouble at home with their wives for putting such real and personal moments into the shows.
But real as these shows were, they can't hold a candle to The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet. Ozzie and Harriet was a family sitcom about the Nelson family. It starred Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson and their sons David and Ricky Nelson all playing themselves! What happened on TV was all based on what happened in their real lives. So forget some writer's wife complaining, "Oh Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser acted out an embarrassing thing that really happened to us!" This was the actual people staging their own family moments for all America. And for their openess they earned a place in America's heart and in TV history.
And make no mistake. This wasn't the Nelson's exposing themselves to America for some nothing 6 or 7 year run (which in itself is a huge run for a series). No way. Try 14 years! And that's just on TV. The show started on radio in 1944 meaning the Nelson's were part of American culture for a stunning 22 years! That's outrageous! It should be noted though that at the start of the radio show David and Ricky were not played by Ozzie and Harriet's real sons. So they were only in the spotlight for a short 17 years! Good lord! In that time Ricky became a huge singing sensation and their real life wives even ended up on the show. Jim Carey in The Truman Show anyone?
Well, 22 years is a long time to spend in the public eye and in 1966 the show folded up its tents and packed it in. I mean be reasonable. Ricky and David were adults by that point. Its hard to do a realistic family show about folks raising sons who are in their mid to late twenties! Its not charming, its weird. And at that point the kids deserved some time to step out of the spotlight.
But Hollywood is never one to let a good thing go easy. Sure the show was on the air and successful for 22 years but maybe we can beat the dead horse and get a few more miles out of it! And besides, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson didn't want to be out of work I'm sure. But what to do? The kids were raised and gone and Ozzie and Harriet's whole gimmick was that they were TV parents.
Ah ha! The perfect solution. A new syndicated show called Ozzie's Girls! It would feature Ozzie as pimp daddy over a bunch of hookers! No... wait a second... that's not right... I think that's a pilot for a new family sitcom on Fox... let me recheck my notes... oh here we are! Ozzie's Girls actually had Ozzie and Harriet taking in a couple of college girls as boarders and trying to cope with girls' problems when they had previously had to deal with boys' problems. But here are a couple more problems. Where before Ozzie And Harriet had mirrored the Nelsons real life, I don't think the same can be said for Ozzie's Girls. I seriously don't see the Nelson's soliciting college girls to live with them on the condition they appear on a TV show. That would be too weird. So right off the bat the show was a little more contrived than the original. On top of that, realistically, what college age girls wants to move away from her parents and go off to college only to be parented by their landlords? I'm not quite buying that either.
But the final problem has to be that, at risk of repeating myself, Ozzie And Harriet had already been on the air 22 YEARS!!! Enough already! They were on the air for most of the 50's and 60's. Ozzie's Girls came on in 1973. Even if the show hadn't been changed at all it would be wearing thin let alone with changes contrived to make them surrogate parents. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for a show that can thrive for such a long stretch of time. I'm just saying the people in TV sometimes have to learn to let go. Ozzie's Girls wasn't necessary and neither were other revivals of shows better left alone like Make Room For Granddaddy. If there is anyone out their plotting to bring out, say, Happier Days or The Courtship Of Eddie's Grandson... just stop now so I don't have to come smack you. You have been warned. Thank you.
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