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The First Season
Running Time: 230 Minutes
Starring: Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne, Jack Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne
Retail Price: $29.99
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (5-8 Scenes per episode)
Released: March 4th, 2003
As I sit down and write this, it's been a good year since the Osbourne family and their reality television show entered the popular culture stream. Like all great television shows before it (reality based or scripted), "The Osbournes" started out with just a little bit of buzz a few weeks before its premiere. So when the show debuted, it captured a good number of viewers and rave reviews. This then led to the best kind of promotion: word of mouth. The show kept growing and growing in popularity and viewers, and as a result, it soon became the highest rated program on MTV.
To me, the idea of the show is genius. Basically, it takes a look at the ideal family that's still together... who of course are unique since the Dad is famous, they're millionaires and everyone in the family is special in their own way. Yet when they come together, they really are a normal family. Jack and Kelly fight. Ozzy and Sharon also have their fights but love each other unconditionally. They spend time together. They do their own thing. And just a bunch of stuff happens to them as they live their lives, as crazy as that stuff may be. Oh, and they have lots of pets too. So in spite of everything, the Osbournes can be considered a pretty typical famiy. Whether we realize it or not, celebrities and their families are real people too despite what they do and their own set of perks.
So since it's a show that everyone talks about, it just seems natural that the show worked its way into popular culture so quickly. Other television shows talked about it. It was the subject water coolers were made for. Magazines had tons of articles on the family and the show. Even Dan Quayle praised it (does he still mean anything these days?). And soon it was a big deal when the family went out in public... all until the point where they were everywhere and you couldn't escape from them. And then we have the merchandise (Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy's manager, is certainly the brains of the family and manipulates all this stuff) to top it off. The point is that MTV wanted more, and the family signed on to do another two seasons.
Then there were all sorts of controversies which I should probably save for reviews of future seasons, but I'll keep it brief. The family got millions to comit for another 20 or so episodes, yet then Sharon said if she could do it all again she wouldn't have done the show (even if it brought the family so much success, she said it also led to keeping them apart in some ways). Tragedy also struck when Sharon was disagnosed with colon cancer. While she's in pretty good shape now, it is a scary thought and it made things questionable if she would be able to do future seasons of the show. Still, you can't repeat the success the first season had or what it offered... especially since the show was such a big hit and now just about everyone is aware of who the family is and the show. Ratings are down for the second season, and given Sharon's battle with cancer, it does make for a bit more sad moments.
But that's a whole different story, so let's focus on what led up to all of that. What makes the first season of "The Osbournes" so special is that you can relive where the phenemon all began and what everyone who watched the show picked up from it. There was nothing like it on television before and probably there will never be anything like it again. Even if you haven't seen the show, you're probably familiar about the family complaining about their neighbors and having shrinks for their dogs. Yes, those incidents also worked their ways into our mainstream culture... not to mention how everyone was soon parodying all the bleeps when there was cursing. The show was just that successful.
Most of us are familiar with Ozzy somehow or another. Be it his solo music career, Ozzfest music festival, his days in "Black Sabbath" or the rather infamous events that made headlines (yes, he really did try to kill Sharon and he did bite the heads off a few things). And while the man is more or less a walk PSA on why you shouldn't indulge yourselves in drugs, you really just can't help but love him amid all his cursing and everyday struggles (like getting the television to work). The man comes off as a sweetheart who just wants to be a good father and loves his family and wife so much. He's quite an endearing television figure.
So if you asked me to pinpoint what makes the show so entertaining, I probably couldn't tell you. The family is just dynamic in how they deal with people and their own lives. Jack and Kelly are siblings looking for good times (just as typical teens are) all while obeying and spending time with their parents (Ozzy warns them the dangers of drugs and tells them to have safe sex). Sharon, like I mentioned, is the brains of the family and seems to keep everything in order, everything managed and everything in order so that the whole family is set and comfortable. And you got to love the pets. Nothing like the cats and dogs who are just so precious to the family.
While I wasn't a die-hard watcher of the show when it debuts (nor am I now), I have seen quite a few of the episodes so I was eager to see what I missed during the first season. Like any reality show, the key to its success is in the editing. The show's editing is clever. How do I know? Because you become so wrapped up in the episodes and what happens. Given the hours of footage that were shot, most of the episodes aren't strict but rather free in their flow. So while there are conflicts and things to deal with, there's also some random stuff. This might be a turn-off to some, but it's hard to resist what are basically set pieces of the family packaged in episodes and what exactly goes on. Nonetheless, the first season of "The Osbournes" is great television and landmark television at that. So whether you've seen all the episodes dozens of times or don't have the luxury of cable, this set belongs in every DVD collection.
The show is presented in its original 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratio, and does look quite good. This is reality television we're talking about, so it's all video and does look a bit better than I remember it being on television. Each episode features a sharp transfer with nice detail, accurate fleshtones and strong color saturation. Still, there is a lot of noise and a few edge halos which can be a bit distracting and at times, the images does look slightly grainy. Nonetheless, the episodes look very good and are sure to please fans of the show.
All the episodes feature English Dolby Surround tracks, and they sound pretty nice. These aren't going to blow your speakers up or anything, but they nicely fit the show. The musical cues and songs do bring in some activity to the mix, while the sound effects also bring a little life. Still, the dialogue is clear and easy to hear (even if you can't understand Ozzy sometimes) and doesn't become out of focus or anything with the other sounds. The tracks are a little impressive for the episodes, but they get the job done and that's what counts the most. In all, things sound pretty sharp, filled with life and are rather discrete. There are English subtitles, French subtitles, English closed captions and of course, subtitles for when Ozzy says something (more on that in the supplements).
Come on, you know this set wouldn't be disappointing if you didn't get SOME extras to go with the great television that's presented here.
The first of the set has the first nine (of ten) episodes, and all those episodes have Audio Commentary with The Osbournes (makes sense the last episode, which has no commentary, is a clip show of sorts). I would think it's pretty weird to comment on your life as you watch something that's supposed to represent it, but these commentaries are still here anyway. What these commentaries remind me of is a family sitting down on the couch and looking through old family albums and reminicising. They share a lot of laughs and mention the things they liked, as well as offer their own set of stories and what their lives evolved into because of the show. There are some moments of silence here and there, but at times the commentaries do grow a bit old since it seems the family doesn't have much - or really know - what to say. Still, the commentaries are good for what they are (given that this isn't a film or anything and rather just a straight forward account of lives). If you want to spend more time with the family, then here you go.
You can also play Osbourne Bingo if you so desire... even if there's not much replay value on this thing (maybe if you show this DVD set to your friends who don't own it). Basically, an icon of a family member pops up on screen when something happens and you can mark off your card (which you can download from the Internet) and try to win by getting four icons in a row. On the DVD-ROM side there a decent guide to the family, the fun distraction that is the Food Nuisance game and your usual load of weblinks.
The second disc houses most of the extras. Bonus Footage is where you can see some stuff cut out of all the episodes except the first. There's a good deal of the footage and it's pretty fun to watch, even if it is a bit short. Most likely it was cut out due to lack of relevance or time constraints on the episodes. The footage is really fun and are really worth going through, since they play like true bits of the show.
Conversations With The Osbournes is a series of four interviews. Broken down into "Life on the Road," "Family Values," "First Seaon Stories" and "The Untold Story of Michael the Secuirity Guard," here the family (and Michael the secuirity guard in his segment). These are fun to watch and give nice reflections on the family as a whole and what the whole first season was about. There's also an easter egg here worth watching... I'm sure you'll find it.
The five-and-a-half minute "Too Oz For TV" Blooper Reel provides some fun laughs, while Season Highlights is where you can pick some advice and top moments of the family (Lola included). Nothing real new, but gives a nice summary of what everyone was talking about in the spring of 2002. Ozzy's Ten Commandments gives a humorous look at what families shouldn't do (we should all follow these), while there is a cool Photo Gallery and some Set Top Games such as "Name That Dookie" (a fun matching game) and "Edit A Scene." Think you have what it takes to make a reality show? This one is pretty fun and offers some replay value... even if some of the scenes I made didn't make much sense.
There's also the Ozzy Translator where subtitles pop up whenever Ozzy says something (just in case you can't understand everything he says), some pretty specific and fun menus that are quite entertaining and a collectible booklet called the "Family Album" which gives an overview of the DVD set plus the nice Entertainment Weekly review of the first season.
"The Osbournes" is the cream of the crop when it comes to reality television, and it's nice to be able to revisit such a landmark show over and over again on DVD. The episodes look great, they sound great and the supplements are pretty nice which just add more to an already great package. Given a fair list pice, this is a television set that everyone should be able to pick up with no second thoughts. Very nice overall.