Friday, October 2, 2009

Meet the Nelsons

Click on the Fifties Video at the right because you’re going to want to listen as you read. We’re taking a trip in the Wayback Machine and heading for October 10, 1952.

(Hey! That’s next week — 57 years later.)

That was the very day we first met the Nelson family in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The series starred Ozzie and his wife Harriet. It also included their two young sons, David and Eric, better known as Ricky. The audience for this program was a large one because the Nelson quickly became synonymous with the ideal American family of the 1950s. In fact, it is the longest-running non-animated sitcom in US television history.

What few people realize is, although Ozzie was portrayed as a bit of dim bulb (did he even have a job?) he was no slouch when it came to business. Before the show aired, he persuaded ABC to agree to a 10-year contract that paid whether the series was canceled or not. This was unprecedented in television history, but Ozzie prevailed and got what he asked for, including his insistence for perfection in the show’s production.

The show was extremely popular and remained on the air continually until September 3, 1966. It strove for realism and featured exterior shots of the Nelsons' actual southern California home as the fictional Nelsons' home. Interior shots were filmed on a sound stage which had been created to look like the real interior of the Nelsons' home.

Like its radio predecessor, the series focused mainly on the Nelson family at home, dealing with run-of-the-mill problems. As the series progressed and the boys grew up, storylines involving various characters were introduced. Many of the series storylines were taken from the Nelsons' real life. When the real David and Rick got married, to June Blair and Kristin Harmon respectively, their wives joined the cast of Ozzie and Harriet, and the marriages were written into the series.

By the mid 1960s, America's social climate was changing, and the Nelsons' all American nuclear family epitomized the 1950s values and ideals that were quickly becoming a thing of the past. Ozzie, who wrote and directed all of the series' episodes, attempted to change with the times, but most viewers related the show to a long gone era.

1 comment:

YesterUkes said...

I just loved this show. I wa a little younger than "the irrepressible Ricky" and a crush on him, like many other girls. Still enjoy watching the show on DVD. The collection I have even includes the commercials, which are nearly as entertaining as the show