Ozzie & Harriet Release From Sam Nelson?

Joe Lugoff

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Gary “everyone that loves good family comedy loves Ozzie & Harriet so you can’t go wrong, Mike” O.
This is absolutely not true, because of the word "everyone." I love good family comedy (emphasis on the word "good") such as "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver" -- two of my most favorite TV series of all time -- and I don't love "Ozzie & Harriet." I don't even like it. It pushes blandness to its outer limits.
 

Gary16

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This is absolutely not true, because of the word "everyone." I love good family comedy (emphasis on the word "good") such as "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver" -- two of my most favorite TV series of all time -- and I don't love "Ozzie & Harriet." I don't even like it. It pushes blandness to its outer limits.
This thread was started by and for people who are fans of the program and want to be able to own episodes for repeated viewing at home. If you don’t like it this is not the forum for those comments.
 

John Hermes

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This is absolutely not true, because of the word "everyone." I love good family comedy (emphasis on the word "good") such as "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver" -- two of my most favorite TV series of all time -- and I don't love "Ozzie & Harriet." I don't even like it. It pushes blandness to its outer limits.
I could not disagree more.
 

Bert Greene

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There's an airy sublimeness to the writing and performances in "Ozzie and Harriet" that I find virtually unparalleled. Its humor probably has an antecedent in the radio era (of which the series actually started) alongside such dry-humored fare like "Vic and Sade," "Easy Aces," "Ethel and Albert," and such, but successfully translates it into the television era. "Ozzie and Harriet" might seem deceptively simple on the surface, but I've found myself more impressed by its comic chops with each passing decade. To the point I pretty much put it on the top of the heap in the sitcom realm. Especially when the focus of the episodes concentrate on Ozzie's mildly discordant travails navigating modern life, meeting up with Harriet's unflappable nature. Priceless character-oriented comedy, no matter how disparaged by the usual crowd of baby-boom hipsters who love to dump on it and treat it as some kind of ideological whipping-boy.

I find it almost a cultural crime that the Ozzie and Harriet library/legacy has been rendered such a mess. Right alongside the lamentable unavailability of another iconic relic like the 1950s-era "Dragnet," and the chopped-up, public-domain mess that constitutes most of Roy Rogers' feature output of the 1940s, all of which were very key bits of cultural americana for years. The only thing I can think of that is even worse in these regards is the complete loss of the vast majority of Tom Mix's 1918-1928 films for Fox studios, a large cultural footprint now lost to the ages and impossible to really tap into.
 

Gary OS

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This thread was started by and for people who are fans of the program and want to be able to own episodes for repeated viewing at home. If you don’t like it this is not the forum for those comments.
Thank you, Gary!

I could not disagree more.
Absolutely!

There's an airy sublimeness to the writing and performances in "Ozzie and Harriet" that I find virtually unparalleled. Its humor probably has an antecedent in the radio era (of which the series actually started) alongside such dry-humored fare like "Vic and Sade," "Easy Aces," "Ethel and Albert," and such, but successfully translates it into the television era. "Ozzie and Harriet" might seem deceptively simple on the surface, but I've found myself more impressed by its comic chops with each passing decade. To the point I pretty much put it on the top of the heap in the sitcom realm. Especially when the focus of the episodes concentrate on Ozzie's mildly discordant travails navigating modern life, meeting up with Harriet's unflappable nature. Priceless character-oriented comedy, no matter how disparaged by the usual crowd of baby-boom hipsters who love to dump on it and treat it as some kind of ideological whipping-boy.

I find it almost a cultural crime that the Ozzie and Harriet library/legacy has been rendered such a mess. Right alongside the lamentable unavailability of another iconic relic like the 1950s-era "Dragnet," and the chopped-up, public-domain mess that constitutes most of Roy Rogers' feature output of the 1940s, all of which were very key bits of cultural americana for years. The only thing I can think of that is even worse in these regards is the complete loss of the vast majority of Tom Mix's 1918-1928 films for Fox studios, a large cultural footprint now lost to the ages and impossible to really tap into.
Perfectly said, Bert. I could not agree more with those sentiments about one of the greatest TV shows of all time. And your points about 50's Dragnet, Roy Rogers' films, and Tom Mix movies are spot on as well. I'd add one more to the list - Lassie. That show ran for 20 some years in various forms and is truly an American Television icon. Yet we have only a few substandard releases. Imagine how incredible that show would look - especially the 'Ranger Years' - if it were remastered and released! That TV series, along with the Blondie films and the others you mentioned, are iconic and deserve so much better than any of them have received.

Gary "as I said before, long-live Ozzie & Harriet in our hearts and minds" O.
 
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Neil Brock

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No one to blame but Ozzie himself. He never properly copyrighted the shows to begin with. Then, when it came to syndication, instead of going with a big distributor, he chose All-American Television. The show never had a wide distribution and has basically been a dormant property for at least 30 years.
 

Gary16

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No one to blame but Ozzie himself. He never properly copyrighted the shows to begin with. Then, when it came to syndication, instead of going with a big distributor, he chose All-American Television. The show never had a wide distribution and has basically been a dormant property for at least 30 years.
Interestingly enough I noticed that the first season episodes do have a proper copyright notice but the year designation went away after that.
 
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MatthewA

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No one to blame but Ozzie himself. He never properly copyrighted the shows to begin with. Then, when it came to syndication, instead of going with a big distributor, he chose All-American Television. The show never had a wide distribution and has basically been a dormant property for at least 30 years.
The same All American Television that later bought out Goodson-Todman after they'd both died? Was that the best offer he got, or did any other interested party want total ownership of it? Even Carol Burnett could syndicate her variety show and still maintain some copyright control over it.

With all their acquisition fervor today, I'm surprised Disney didn't make a deal that went beyond cable reruns back in the 1980s. They could have picked up the home video rights for a song if they'd asked. They aired the early years of Still the Beaver, which has multiple hands in it preventing any form of disc release today, and their 1980s cable shows such as Welcome to Pooh Corner and the Australian-produced Five Mile Creek got video releases as well. They released non-Disney content when they licensed some of the early Muppet specials and the animated shorts of the Fleischer and Hubley studios for tape and laserdisc. They even had the rights to Rocky and Bullwinkle and the final season of NBC's second-generation Alvin and the Chipmunks in the early 1990s. Ozzie and Harriet would have fit right in, but it was not to be. That's yet another reason it's more than a coincidence that Disney now owns ABC; this show helped keep them afloat in its early years, overlapping with the seven years Disneyland was on ABC (along with Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro), the entire runs of The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Top Cat, and the first two years of Bewitched. No sitcom exceeded its episode count or run in years until The Simpsons and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which are now Disney-by-proxy thanks to the Fox deal.

Alas, whatever business skills they had were enough to keep them on the air for 14 years and get them a syndicated sequel/reboot in Ozzie's Girls — is that in the same position legally in terms of copyright? — but not to get more exposure for the show. TDC was a darn sight better than nothing since that also included remastering them to tape for the first time. The music licensing fees would be more of an issue even if a modern-day release happened. If Sam Nelson underestimated any cost associated with restoring and remastering the show for an "official" version, it's that. How many of these PD releases have any of Rick's musical performances in them?

Maybe Lucy and Desi were better off selling I Love Lucy (which had an episode called "Never Do Business With Friends and Relatives") to CBS outright since, unlike the Nelsons, they still had other shows going under Desilu, all or most of which are now at Paramount along with it.
 

BobO'Link

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If Sam Nelson underestimated any cost associated with restoring and remastering the show for an "official" version, it's that. How many of these PD releases have any of Rick's musical performances in them?
All appearances are Sam, like other heirs to once popular TV shows, vastly overestimated the amount of money the series is worth and priced himself out of a partnership with a distributor who understands these things. He was then apparently arrogant enough to think he could just do it himself (and based on some things I've read using "prosumer" equipment at that). You can put part of the blame on Ozzie for not properly protecting this legacy.

I could be wrong but that's how I read all the posts/blogs/random information about Sam's attempt to get this beloved series released.
 
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Bert Greene

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No question. Ozzie Nelson's poor management led to this debacle. Not that he was alone, as so many of those early filmed tv-series of that era were product of small-scale producers who were remiss about legally protecting their material, leaving it orphaned and ultimately public-domain. When the big studios finally shook off their resentment of television and started churning out the majority of filmed fare, they had their handy stable of lawyers lock things up good and tight, as we all know so well. But considering the longevity and the cultural status of "Ozzie and Harriet," I would have hoped some third-party would have come along by now, and picked up the pieces, so to speak. There is still some value to be mined out of it. This isn't something like "Front Page Detective" or "Where's Raymond" we're talking about. I never had the slightest faith in Sam Nelson, and kept clear of his squirrelly-sounding effort, though. At least until I might have had my doubts proven wrong, and seen a finished product. Which obviously never happened.

As for the earlier "Ozzie and Harriet" radio series, it had some eight or so seasons of programs itself, but I've only noticed a few dozen episodes circulate, primarily from the 1948-49 years. Are there transcription discs surviving of most of the run? Or are they more likely lost? In recent years, a lot of episodes to Red Skelton's radio series from around 1942-43 have surfaced, in which Ozzie Nelson was the house band, and both he and (especially) Harriet participated in Red's comic skits. They are fun to listen to. Their successful work on Skelton's show is apparently what led to their own series.

The recordings of Ozzie's band are pretty well documented on older LP and CD reissue collections, although I suspect there are still some pretty big gaps (especially in the late-1930s). There was an old LP from Hindsight which nicely covered the 1940-42 period, which I purchased when it came out. Made-for-radio transcriptions of a lot of the swingy tunes Ozzie concurrently recorded commercially for Bluebird. Never a cutting-edge band, but it had a nice, solid, bouncy sound at that time, with some good soloists, and instrumentals like "Central Avenue Shuffle" and "Cutting Classes." A huge gap was filled by the Collectables label, with two separate CDs covering the early (1932-36) years from Brunswick 78s, when the band was perhaps more of a middle-of-the-road 'hotel style' band in the vein of Hal Kemp. The recording from that period that always stood out for me most was their version of "No One Loves Me Like that Dallas Man" (1933), with a young Harriet providing vocals. Very tight, impressive sax section. Just wish the band hadn't been with Brunswick at that time, as their cramped studios and equipment tended to give resulting recordings a thin, boxy sound, compared to the impressive fidelity of rival labels Victor and Columbia. Anyway, that's enough veering off into crazy tangents.
 

MatthewA

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Quite the opposite. I find it fascinating how this stuff all came into being, and as frustrating as the legal/business end of things can be, it helps to understand why people's favorite shows still have limited availability.

It's also ironic that this show is held up as an example of 1950s squareness when it was one of the first to sell rock 'n' roll to the American TV viewing public. By the time it went off the air, the British Invasion was in full swing.
 
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Ron Lee Green

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No one to blame but Ozzie himself. He never properly copyrighted the shows to begin with. Then, when it came to syndication, instead of going with a big distributor, he chose All-American Television. The show never had a wide distribution and has basically been a dormant property for at least 30 years.
But Ozzie died in 1975 and All-American Television wasn't founded until 1981?

I still find it unbelievable that not one of Ozzie's show biz industry pals noticed the copyright error and didn't inform him about it during all those years the show was on. He could have fixed it early on. Who knows? Maybe someone did tell him about it, and he didn't listen to them.

I mean, we all noticed it, and not all of us are in the business.
 
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MatthewA

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But Ozzie died in 1975 and All-American Television wasn't founded until 1981?
And when they did exist before they ended up becoming part of Dismantle, whoops I mean Fremantle, they syndicated Baywatch and The Howard Stern Show. I would have been surprised to have ever seen their name on it.

When The Disney Channel had the rights (to what percentage of the show?), there were no logos, just a drawing of the Nelson family over a chyron copyright to the Nelson Trust.
 

Gary16

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But Ozzie died in 1975 and All-American Television wasn't founded until 1981?

I still find it unbelievable that not one of Ozzie's show biz industry pals noticed the copyright error and didn't inform him about it during all those years the show was on. He could have fixed it early on. Who knows? Maybe someone did tell him about it, and he didn't listen to them.

I mean, we all noticed it, and not all of us are in the business.
It was American International Television.
 

MatthewA

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What a coincidence. Ozzie's Girls was a Filmways presentation and thus now at MGM, where this show might otherwise be if Ozzie hadn't pulled the rights to the original to do it himself. Filmways and AIP merged in the late 1970s, Orion purchased them, and MGM purchased Orion to shut it down and bring it back 20 years later. MGM today might have done it justice; Green Acres looked great remastered for DVD.
 
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sjbradford

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The Arnazes sold the “I Love Lucy” films, separately from the rest of Desilu, to CBS in 1958 in order to finance their purchase of RKO Studios. Lucille Ball sold Desilu in 1967, and the library eventually wound up with CBS. So IlL was destined for CBS one way or another.

Kind of a shame about O&H. I’ve only seen a few (later) episodes and they weren’t my cup of tea. I thought everyone’s timing was strangely off and it made the show seem artificial. But the show is a significant part of TV history and they should have handled it better.
 
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MatthewA

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If Rick Nelson hadn't died in that plane crash, I could have easily seen him coming back to TV in the late 1980s in a dramatic/action-adventure role or as someone's dad on a sitcom.

But the show is a significant part of TV history and they should have handled it better.
The year this show ended was the last year before ABC went full-color, so it really was the end of an era. This is one show I can't imagine in color simply because it is in many ways definitive of the era of B&W TV.
 
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Gary16

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If Rick Nelson hadn't died in that plane crash, I could have easily seen him coming back to TV in the late 1980s in a dramatic/action-adventure role or as someone's dad on a sitcom.



The year this show ended was the last year before ABC went full-color, so it really was the end of an era. This is one show I can't imagine in color simply because it is in many ways definitive of the era of B&W TV.
The show's final season was in color and looked great.
 
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MatthewA

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I had no idea about that since ABC was the last to have all their shows in color (and eventually the last of the Big 3 to adopt stereo and HD), or that they made the switch before Bewitched did. Another reason time is of the essence in getting them restored: pre-1983 color film stock is prone to fading.

CBS went to color first yet The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Munsters (not counting theatrical movies), and Mister Ed never made the switch and all ended the same year.
 

howard1908

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It's also ironic that this show is held up as an example of 1950s squareness when it was one of the first to sell rock 'n' roll to the American TV viewing public. By the time it went off the air, the British Invasion was in full swing.
I have always thought Ozzie & Harriet got the shaft by the younger generations thinking it was some father knows best clone, when it was in fact one of the top 10 comdies of the B&W era, I absolutely think that Ozzie Nelson was comic genius in his own way, definitely paved the way for shows like seinfeld.
 

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