Sunday, December 18, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 6: Christmas "Adventures"

I love that the old Ozzie and Harriet Nelson show is called The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. It's not like the family is having adventures like Rin-Tin-Tin or Robin Hood. I also love that MPI is releasing quality DVD sets of the entire series AND that the same episodes are appearing on Prime Video.

The sitcom did a bunch of Christmas episodes, and I have seen many of them, but the first-season effort "Late Christmas Gift" is new to me this year. You know who it isn't new to? Those in 1965 who watched this encore presentation of it when it premiered in 1951. Unfortunately, some of the restored episodes are these rebroadcast versions with a little of the original material missing, presumably due to elements issues with the primary versions (I don't think Ozzie preserved all the ones he reworked for later showings).

NOTE: This is a version on YT presented "for educational purposes," but I give a strong recommendation to the official Season 1 DVDs, the licensed streams on Prime Video, or (like me) the licensed streams on Prime Video if you are too lazy to get up and put in the DVD (I had a cat on my lap, to be fair).

Since I am going through the series from the beginning, it's a bit jarring to see the 14-years-older Oz presenting this one. He is a bit older, but, well, aren't we all. And altered or not, this is a great Christmas episode that illustrates some of what I like about the series. It starts with a low-key premise: Ozzie and older son David get their gifts from Grandma Nelson a bit late--a thick geography book and a hip sports jacket. That's pretty much it.

Yet we got a lot of entertainment out of Ozzie trying on the jacket and, after first fretting he is too old to wear such a trendy piece of clothing, loving it, doing some mild boasting about getting smiles from the young girls in the malt shop. The key with Ozzie is it's always mild boasting, it's harmless, and in fact he almost always backs down and admits the truth. He remains likable and just deluded instead of arrogant.

They get a lot of mileage out of this, but one question remains: Did Ozzie's mother really intend to give David the book and Ozzie the jacket? I like the fundamental decency underlying all this. Ricky teases David about being saddled with the book, but David refuses to admit he isn't into it--not just to spite Ricky, but because he wants to appreciate the gift. And Ozzie's reaction and how he handles things when they learn the truth is great.

However, the show is not just decent, but it's funny. Once you get into the rhythms of the series, it's a great watch with sharper observations about everyday life than you might expect if you have never seen it before. "Late Christmas Gift" is an example of why The Adventures works overall and also why it brings us so many solid holiday episodes.

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