The Osbournes: The First Season

The Osbournes presents Ozzy Osbourne’s family, Ozzy as the dad, his wife Sharon, and two of their teenage children Jack and his older sister Kelly

Back in the fifties, one of the first forms that the venerable sitcom took was to look at the amusing plights of the American family. I grew up with shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘Ozzy and Harriett’, ‘Donna Reed’ and ‘Father Knows Best’. In a stroke of marketing genius MTV has taken these shows, tossed in a dose of the currently popular reality television and just a dash of psychotropic drugs and animal droppings. The result is the Osbournes.

The Osbournes presents Ozzy Osbourne’s family, Ozzy as the dad, his wife Sharon, and two of their teenage children Jack and his older sister Kelly. A long time ago, during my high school years I was in a garage band that did covers of popular songs. Among the favorites of this generation was Black Sabbath, a group that had Ozzy as its dark and bizarre front man. Known for biting the head off a bird he was evil incarnate to all our parents and just plain cool to most of the kids. To see him on stage with his band was to witness a force of nature. He was the consummate showman, holding the audience spell bound for each set. With the Osbournes television show we see a kinder, gentler Ozzy. As The Osbournes opens for its first episode the Osbourne clan is moving into a new mansion in California. On the surface it looks like any family moving day until you notice the cardboard boxes are marked ‘Linen’, ‘Kitchen’, ‘Devil Heads’ and ‘Dead Things’. This one scene really sets the tone for the show and provides insight to the overwhelming success. There is a juxtaposition of the normal and the bizarre that holds the audience mesmerized from one episode to the next.

Most of the known free world is already familiar with the antics of The Osbournes. The wife Sharon rules the roost with a gentle hand and foul mouth. She is constantly followed by several of the family’s plethora of pets Sharon managers her husband’s career and the family with amazing acumen. Ozzy stumbles around the house screaming at the dogs and cats as they turn their beautiful home into their personal restroom. He spends the day watching the History channel, drawing and dispensing advice to his children. He son Jack is perhaps the strangest of the brood. Switching between a fully uniformed army outfit and his attempts at becoming a record producer like his mom, he is in a state of constant flux. His sister has the desire to follow her father in a musical career but otherwise seems like a fairly typical teenage girl. She hangs out with friends, inhabits the local malls and breaks curfew.

One aspect of The Osbournes that helped to propel it to the heights of the ratings is the family’s constant and off hand use of every swear word known in the English language, at times the censor’s ‘bleeps’ make following the dialogue almost impossible. With the Uncensored version of The Osbournes DVD you can select either the unexpurgated audio track or the sanitized version shown on MTV.

Despite the verbal abuses The Osbournes demonstrates a lot of love. They are a close family, open to each other on an emotional level that is rarely seen in family oriented sitcoms. While most such shows derive their humor from the dysfunctions of the family this show the humor comes from the fact that love is found is such an unlikely place. One scene was particularly touching where Jack brings a problem to Ozzy and the two sit next to each other on the couch. Jack very naturally leans towards his father, Ozzy places his arm around his son and they watch television huddled together. With all the loud arguments this family pulls together.

The production of The Osbournes DVD is as original as the show itself. The main menu shows the family on the couch preparing to watch the DVD, complaining about it even before it starts. The set up menu takes the form of a lost cell phone in Kelly’s room. The episode selection menu is on Jack’s computer. While this may become a bit tiresome after repeated viewings the initial reaction is amusing. Its true that you don’t purchase a DVD for the menus but it is a fair indicator of how much thought went into the preparation and in this case at least an attempt was made to give the viewers something that gives a little extra bang for the buck.

The two disc set is sold in either the uncensored or censored version. Since there is a censored track on the uncensored version you might as well get that one. The Osbournes discs have plenty of extras to extend your Osbourne experience. There is a commentary track for the episodes that features Sharon and Jack. It rarely drowns out the dialogue so you can enjoy the show while listening to them passing judgment. This commentary gives the feel of watching someone’s home movies. In a very real sense you are. Sharon bemoans the loss of her cats, her physical changes since starting chemo therapy and how her family has grown. Jack is critical of almost everything. He particularly seems to enjoy ragging on his sister. Again, with the exception of the language a very normal feel pervades.

There are deleted scenes available for about half of the episodes. It’s easy to see why these scenes where removed from the final airings but they are amusing. The outtake reel is funny although the whole show seems at times to be one huge blooper reel. There are features like Ozzy’s version of the Ten Commandments, an Ozzy Diary, family interviews and four previously unseen episodes. One feature that was very imaginative is the Ozzy Translator.

This is a subtitle track that lets you read the mumbling of the great Ozzy. You also get The Osbournes games. There is a bingo/drinking game and something called ‘Name that Dookie’, where you have to match a picture of excrement with the responsible animal. The Osbournes is a must have for Osbourne fans everywhere. For once a studio put some thought into why you should buy a recent show that you could have taped off the cable.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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