Written by Hombre Divertido
Sometimes when someone does something so well, and makes it look simple, the accomplishment is not given its due.
Ozzie Nelson was a brilliant man who took a successful radio show and brought it to television where it became one of the longest-running series in the history of the medium. Ozzie produced and directed the show and also contributed to the scripts while the mode of communication was in its infancy. He was not only one of the forefathers of the family sit-com, but of reality television as well.
Yes this was a television show, but one that chronicled the lives of the Nelson family as well. Ozzie bought his entire family to television, allowed them to play themselves, in stories based on actual family events, told on a set that was fashioned after their own home. The family chemistry was real, the stories were simple, and are as enjoyable to watch today as they were when they ran on ABC from 1952 to 1966.
Shout Factory has released a four-disk set which includes twenty-four episodes of the groundbreaking series. Entitled Best of Ricky and Dave, these episodes focus on the two sons of Ozzie and Harriet, who grew up over the fourteen-year run of the show for all America to see. The stories posses a charisma, the laughs are solid, and the production value was far ahead of its time. The fact that these shows still stand-up today are a testament to the brilliance of the senior Nelson.
It continues to be amazing as to how Ozzie was able to allow the show to develop as his family did. When the boys married the real life wives were added to the cast, and proved to be talented actresses. Along with the performances of the talented cast, there are plenty of guest stars to look for including Tuesday Weld, Stanley and Barry Livingston in pre-My Three Sons performances, and Richard Correll who would later to go on to appear on Leave it to Beaver, to name a few.
Why the series is not being released in the customary season-by-season format is a legitimate question, but does not take away from the quality of this set. The bonus material is both entertaining and educational. Not only are there a dozen singing performances by Ricky Nelson, but also classic episodes form the radio show. The trivia game is overly simplistic, but having a bonus radio episode as the prize for a perfect score is a novel idea.
Though more episodes with the boys from the first two seasons where Ricky displays comic timing beyond his years would have made this set more enjoyable, and the dropping of such episodes as “The Tangled Web” which only featured a brief appearance by Dave and Rick certainly would have allowed for more title-appropriate material to be included in the set, there is certainly enough quality material to make this set worth owning.
The storylines in these shows may have a familiarity to them, as they served as the basis for many similar plot lines in family comedies for years to come.
Recommendation: This is classic television as its best, and makes for good family entertainment today. This is a talented family that deserves far more recognition when the innovators of the industry are discussed. An entertaining and educational set that should be included in all classic television collections.