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SAVING A TELEVISION CLASSIC

By Henry Branham Jr.

Television shows today come and go quickly. “The Playboy Club” has already been axed after only three episodes. More network casualties are sure to be announced soon.  With the exception of soap operas, anthologies, variety programs, and game shows, only a handful of TV series actually made it past the ten year mark (“Lassie”, “Dallas”, “The Simpsons”, “Gunsmoke”, and “Law & Order” quickly come to mind). One show that lasted over a decade, and in doing so laid down the blueprint for the typical family based sitcom, was “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” and it needs your help!

The show began as a radio program in 1944 and lasted into 1954, going 402 episodes strong. As TV sets became household fixtures in the early 1950’s, radio stars began shifting over to television. The show’s creator and star Ozzie Nelson jumped on the bandwagon and brought his radio and real life family to prime time. Mother Harriet and sons David and Ricky joined Ozzie for a fourteen year run on ABC, beginning on October 10, 1952.

The Nelsons were the perfect family. Harriet was always announcing an upcoming meal while Ozzie was recovering from a nap, and Ricky & David lightly took verbal jabs at each other. There were rarely any real “adventures”, but audiences never seemed to mind. The show was a bona fide hit. Over time, as the boys grew up, their real life wives would be incorporated into the show. Ricky became a huge pop star, even ushering in the very first music video to his hit “Traveling Man”. He may have been one of the most physically beautiful teen idols in history, but he definitely had the singing talent to match. To prove his music career was no TV gimmick, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted him in 1987. “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” not only gave America the image of the impeccable family model, but they were the first TV show to utilize the link between television and rock music.

After fourteen seasons and 435 episodes, “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” came to an end. The show aired sporadically on cable throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, and in recent years there have been three official DVD releases containing a handful of re-mastered episodes.  Now there is a chance that the entire series may see the light of day on DVD.  In a grass roots effort, Ricky Nelson’s youngest son, Sam Nelson, is attempting to raise the necessary funds to digitize and re-master all 435 episodes of this classic television series.  Considering the age of the series, this is no small task.

Via the website, www.kickstarter.com, Sam Nelson is trying to raise nearly $57,000 to complete the preservation of this television classic. So far fans have already donated nearly $20,000, proving how timeless and beloved “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” really is. Many people may consider the history of pop culture as pure fluff, but believe it or not, classic television is part of our American history – for better or worse.  Younger generations may be content to let their airwaves be cluttered with mindless reality shows and popularity contests disguised as game shows, but once upon a time television offered a window to another world. In retrospect, shows like “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet”, “Leave it To Beaver”, and “Father Knows Best” may not have truly represented the real families of 1950’s America , but those thirty minute programs were innocent and entertaining enough to allow families to spend some quality time together watching and wishing they were just like the Nelsons, Cleavers, and Andersons.

You can be a part of television history by saving a piece of TV history.  Visit the following link for more information; http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2100802854/ozzie-and-harriet-reviving-an-american-treasure?ref=live

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