One of my all-time favorite shows is The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. Along with Spin & Marty, this was another show that the Disney Channel re-broadcast in the 80s that I got hooked on and watched religiously. Unlike Spin & Marty, Ozzie & Harriet ran for 14 years, giving me seemingly endless hours of new episodes to watch. We also got to watch the family grow up over the years.
I discovered recently that archive.org has a bunch of episodes available for download — for free! I know, right? I was excited too. Several of these episodes even include the original ads that ran in them. The Nelson Family was big on personal endorsements (“Ozzie Nelson” the character actually worked in Advertising, though it was only mentioned once, in their introductory feature film, Here Come The Nelsons — I know, I’m bordering on super scary fan nerd here). As I work in Advertising too, this only makes me love this show more. Especially their dorky commercials:
“He likes people… people like him. And people, who like people, like Dial!”
Give those copywriters a Gold Pencil! This is so ridiculous and trite to us now it sounds like a parody. I would love to travel back in time and hear them pitch this to the client. Don Draper does not approve.
Anyhow, I could go on and on and on about the Nelsons, to the point where I could start my own disturbing fan blog, but I’ll stop with these few fun facts:
- Dave and Ricky’s real-life wives played their wives on the show. June was a Playboy pin-up and Kris is the sister of 80s TV hunk, Mark Harmon.
- Ricky Nelson was a very rebellious teen, hand tattoos and hanging with a rough crowd. He also dated Lorrie Collins and they wanted to get married. Can’t say I blame him. Look at that bad-ass little bitch. Ozzie & Harriet would not let that happen though. Heartbreak.
Now on to the show.
Here’s Dave — looking a bit like Tom Cruise, now that I think of it — calling his squeeze of the week, Susan. She is adorable and had great hair, despite having losers for parents (you’ll meet them later).
Susan has a quandary — her cousin is visiting and needs a date, otherwise she can’t go out with Dave to the big formal dance. They’re always having formal dances on Ozzie & Harriet. I don’t know if this was accurate for the times, or if the Nelsons just liked this premise, but I kind of love it. I want to live in a world were we all go to formal dances every couple of weeks.
Susan’s cousin is younger — eek! Only 14! How will they find her a date? But Dave has a great idea, he’s gonna hornswoggle his little brother Ricky into taking her. After all, he’s 14 too.
Let me just talk for a minute about how much I love Ricky Nelson. Pretty much every incarnation of Ricky Nelson (except the sad, tragic drug addict who played country rock at State Fairs). But little Ricky Nelson was a particularly wonderful treat as he was a total smart-ass and a little bit of a weirdo. Goofy, squeaky-voiced and with the sense of humor of someone three times his age.
Also, a totally sharp-dresser.
Dave had some pretty great shirts too, as seen here as he polishes up the old car with neighbor, Will Thornberry – good ol’ Thorny’s son.
Thorny was Ozzie’s foil and partner in crime during the early episodes. He disappeared later in the series, for reasons I’m uncertain of. Maybe Don DeFore had bigger fish to fry in the movies and, eventually, guest-starring on The Love Boat. Anyhow, I like how the plaids on Dave’s shirt yoke are intentionally mismatched, making the black stripes suddenly tun into white ones. It’s awkward and charming (kind of like Ricky).
So Dave had outgrown his tuxedo (again, I love this world where 16-year-old-boys own tuxedos) and ask Ozzie if he can borrow his. Thankfully, in a previous episode, Ozzie bought a new and stylish one-button, shawl collar tuxedo to replace his “dated and silly” double-breasted tux with the wide and pointy lapels. This leaves Dave’s old tuxedo, which is now too small, for Ricky to wear. But first they need to get Ricky a shirt, studs suspenders and a haircut (cue the ZZ-Top “Legs” style make-over montage).
WTF? Looks like the barber himself needs a trim. His hair is bigger than Harriet’s.
Upon returning home, they realize that they left Ricky’s suit at the cleaners.
Oh, no! There’s no time! The only solution is for Ozzie & Harriet to drive down to the cleaners, break-in, steal his suit and speed away like Bonnie & Clyde, ultimately getting the car stuck in the mud and covered in it themselves. Totally normal behavior for parents.
This is one of the things I love so much about Ozzie & Harriet. They always got into all kinds of trouble and Harriet was always the more logical and crafty of the two. Never a simple-minded TV mom, she knew what was up before anyone else did and her sardonic wit often came (good-naturedly) at Ozzie’s expense.
So they decide to go straight over to the girls’ house to catch Dave and Ricky there (not quite sure why this is logical, but it works). They arrive covered in mud, looking like maniacs and this apparently doesn’t even register with Susan’s mother. I guess this happens all the time.
Susan’s father comes downstairs and begins telling them the world’s most boring story about how he fell backwards down the stairs. You’d think that would intrinsically be pretty compelling, but no one seems interested and they politely find him tedious.
They are saved by the doorbell, when Dave & Ricky show up — in tuxedos! But wait, how did this happen? They have Ricky’s tuxedo that they stole from the cleaners. Turns out Dave had put Ricky’s tuxedo in his closet, which means Ozzie & Harriet stole some total stranger’s tuxedo. Oops! They seem only mildly troubled by this information. I think I’d be more alarmed to learn I had stolen someone’s tuxedo by mistake.
No one offers Harriet a hankercheif. What a bunch of assholes.
The girls finally come downstairs in the pretty formals, ready for the date. I love the fluffy net number on the left.
Ricky, the suave gentleman, offers the nameless cousin her corsage, but thinks better of pinning it on her crazy poofy bodice.
They turn to leave and we’re all impressed with how well Ricky cleaned up in his tuxedo. But first, he stops and mugs for the camera and us folks at home, flashing us his novelty light-up bow-tie.
Ah, Ricky. I couldn’t love you more.