A new DVD set revives ''Ozzie & Harriet'' -- Ken Tucker takes a 50-year trip back in time to commune with a pioneering patriarch and his family

By Ken Tucker
Updated May 04, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

A new DVD set revives ”Ozzie & Harriet”

Sometimes old TV shows become more like time-capsule documents than actual entertainment. Which is to say, you probably won’t laugh a lot at The Nelson Family Presents the best of the Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (Unrated, 570 mins., 1952-66), a four-disc overview of the 14-season sitcom. But it’s likely you’ll be fascinated by its portrait of 1950s and 1960s suburban life. A pioneering TV auteur, Ozzie Nelson produced, wrote, and directed many of the 24 episodes included here, and also held the on-camera role of gently befuddled, cardigan-sweater-wearing husband and father to sons David and Ricky. In real life, Ricky became a fine Elvis-influenced rock star, helped along by the musical performances Ozzie tacked onto some of this set’s episodes— proto-music videos, in effect. The collection includes the 1953 entry ”David’s Birthday,” for which David and Ricky’s son Sam provide commentary. One scene involves home movies — real ones, it turns out. Thus, David and his nephew watch and comment on a show featuring actual footage of David as a baby: pretty ”surreal,” to use Sam’s word.