|Osbournes, The: Season One|
|DVD TV Shows|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 04 March 2003|
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, you know that reality TV is the biggest thing going on virtually every television network today. When the threat of major writers and actors strikes hit Hollywood several years back, the studios responded by upping the amount of reality-based shows on their networks. They begin to crank out more series like “Survivor,” “Big Brother,” “The Mole,” “Boot Camp,” and more. By relying on the actions of the contestants rather then the pens of writers and the skills of SAG card-carrying actors, the networks were poised to weather the storm if there were to be a massive strike. In the end, the unions worked out their issues in negotiations, but reality-based shows had become so popular that they still remain huge to this day.
Many years before the current wave of reality shows hit the airwaves, Sharon Osbourne felt that documenting the wacky day-to-day adventures of her mentally burned-out rock star hubby Ozzy Osbourne would make a hilarious TV show. She pitched the show to several studios but could not find anyone to pick it up. Howard Stern told her that he thought it was a good idea, but he wasn’t in a position to produce the show, so it got thrown on the back burner. MTV, which has had the show “The Real World” on the air since 1992, ultimately grabbed the Osbournes torch and ran with it in 2001, several years after Sharon conceived the idea.
For those of you not familiar with the MTV show, the opening credits use ‘60s retro graphics that recall series like “My Three Sons” or “I Dream of Jeannie,” with a lounge singer doing a jazzy version of Ozzy Osbourne's classic metal tune “Crazy Train.” The family is introduced one by one and the star of the show, the prince of darkness who once bit the head off a dove, Ozzy Osbourne, is introduced as “The Dad.”
I’ve often wondered, what do rock stars do during the day? Apparently, quite a few other people have wondered the same thing, and The Osbournes gives you a peek inside the life of this veteran rocker, who has done more drugs than several small nations and spent most of his existence on tour busses, rocking arenas around the globe for the better part of his adult life. We come to learn early in the show that the Osbournes have too many dogs and a cat that all like to leave nasty little presents around the house. Picking up dog and cat poop is such a common topic on the show that the producers of the DVD have created a fun little game in the bonus material called “Name That Dookie” that tests the viewer’s memory as we are shown pieces of animal feces and are asked to name the Osbourne family pet that produced each particular dropping. Jack’s bulldog Lola even left a little present in the form of vomit out by the pool that finds its way into the game.
It is a little annoying at times to watch spoiled children with rich parents go shopping, getting tattoos and going out to clubs. Kelly tends to be a bit of a prima donna as she drives around in her blue BMW X-5 SUV. At one point, she loses her dad’s credit card, freaks out and goes into a panic as she searches feverishly for the lost item. We also learn that Sharon is a shopaholic, so we see where Kelly got her shopping chops from.
One favorite scene that all audio/video enthusiasts seem to find quite hilarious is when Ozzy is trying to use his custom home theater remote (either AMX or Crestron). The Osbournes have a plasma on the wall that Ozzy likes to watch the History Channel on, and his AV installers have made custom macros that should allow Ozzy to watch TV with the press of a button, but leave it to bumbling Ozzy to press the wrong button. Once that happens, he’s like a little lost puppy that doesn’t know how to get home. He screams for Jack to come help him fix the remote and I can’t help but remember the many calls I’ve received in the past from my parents and grandparents asking me how to figure out their VCR or some other AV gadget.
My personal favorite moment on the show is when the Osbournes have a run-in with their pesky and noisy neighbors. It’s quite ironic that the man who makes loud rock and roll music for a living would have trouble with noisy neighbors. Sharon, never one to bite her tongue, gets into a verbal battle with their Beverly Hills neighbors, calling them spoiled brats who are just living off their daddies’ money and other various insults. Soon the food starts flying as the Osbournes begin tossing dinner rolls and other items over the fence. The Oz man takes the prize for funniest moment as he chucks a huge slab of ham over the fence at the neighbors. The cops are called in and the Osbournes are given a warning by the police for the food-tossing fiasco at 2 AM.
One of the elements of the bonus footage included on this two-disc set is a series of photographs from promotional materials and advertisements. The shows name was originally going to be “The Osbourne Family” but was later shortened to simply ‘The Osbournes.” No reason was given for the change, but the name they finally decided to use has a similar cadence to that ultra-wholesome family show of yestery,ear “The Waltons.” In virtually every review that I’ve ever read about the show, the common thread is that, despite the fact that the Osbournes run around the house terrorizing each other, calling each other the filthiest names you’ve ever heard, it is apparent that they all love each other dearly. It’s not Dan Quayle's idea of family values, but there is no denying the amount of love that they have for each other.
This DVD is available in two versions, the edited version that appears on MTV, and a completely uncensored version that contains some of the most foul-mouthed talk you’ve heard since Andrew Dice Clay’s last performance at Madison Square Garden. In a recent interview I heard with Sharon and Kelly, they stated that they think the show is funnier with all of the cursing bleeped out and I tend to agree. The totally uncensored version reviewed here is not rated, but the language borders on NC-17 territory. When the Osbournes are in the middle of a yelling match and every other word is a bleep, it makes the arguments seem more comical and much less abrasive. What’s even funnier is the fact that you can’t understand half of the stuff that Ozzy mumbles anyway, so mixing the bleeps in adds to the effect. I was not personally offended by the unedited version, but I think it might be too much for many to take for the full 10 episodes. In the bonus footage and various interviews that are also included, none of the cursing has been edited either, but I’m assuming that is has been edited on the clean version of this double DVD set. On the discs, there is the option of watching the edited or unedited versions, and if I ever went back and watched the entire season again, I would most likely opt for the censored version now that I’ve seen both in their entirety.
The picture quality is basically exactly as I remember it when watching non-Tivo’d versions directly on my DSS satellite. The menus use clever sound bites from different Osbourne family members as you navigate the discs and there is even bonus DVD-ROM material that lets you access more Osbournes stuff on the Internet if you are a hardcore fan for whom the five hours of bonus stuff that comes on the DVDs isn’t enough.
The second season of The Osbournes is currently running on MTV and, although I have not followed if very closely, I did catch all 10 episodes of the first season thanks to my trusty TiVo and a generous dose of curiosity to see what all of the hype was about. The first thing I noticed when going back and revisiting the first episodes is how much younger and more innocent Jack and Kelly Osbourne seem. When they were filming the first season, they had no idea if this was going to be successful, and as Jack says in one of the interviews in the bonus material, he never really thought about the fact that any of the stuff that the camera crews were recording was actually ever going to really be on the air. Hollywood is filled with thousands of unused ideas for every one that actually sees the light of day, so I can’t blame him for being skeptical. The naivete that I see in Jack and Kelly during the first year of episodes has defiantly worn off in the second season. You can now see the confidence and cockiness that comes from knowing that they have a hit show and I think that is much of the reason that the second season doesn’t have the same charm as the first.