It was the year everything changed.
That's my spin, and I'm sticking with it. I may not be the biggest fan of the music of Black Sabbath or of Ozzy himself, but I am someone who really enjoys the reality TV gambit. (See my reviews of Project Greenlight and The Osbournes: The First Season Uncensored for ramblings on that subject.) I watched the first season of this show and found it to be some of the funniest stuff I've seen on TV in some time (but consider the tiny stipulation that I am talking about the world of reality TV). Then came year two, and everything changed. Well, almost everything changed; Ozzy's still the same. While the first season was fresh and ruggedly humorous, the second season is dull and tiresome.
The problem stems from two overarching themes from this ten-episode run. First, it's the story of Sharon and her fight against colon cancer. Second, it's the transformation of Kelly from brat to über-brat. All the while, Ozzy is still fumbling along being Ozzy, but those other two stories overpower everything else. As you can imagine, fighting cancer isn't always funny. As you know, watching a brat turn into a little prissy diva is annoying.
Truly suffering from the sophomore slump, The Osbournes took a solid dive south.
Facts of the Case
Let's briefly re-introduce our cast of characters:
Ozzy: Moneymaker and singer extraordinaire, Ozzy Osbourne is the mumbling, fumbling, shuffling, comedy relief of the series. A very understanding and forgiving man, Ozzy really loves burritos and really hates dog turds.
Sharon: The head of the household, Sharon discovers this year that she has colon cancer. Because of the subsequent chemotherapy treatments, Sharon is often found resting in bed during this season. She's still as fiery and spunky as ever, but her condition has many ramifications on the household.
Kelly: Due to some remarkable combination of intervention of her father and brother, Kelly has landed a record contract and has the first glimmerings of success in her future. Expertly riding the wave of celebrity from a cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," Kelly quickly lets her nominal status inflate her ego, and, as such, turns into an insufferable, spoiled brat.
Jack: The dark horse of the family, Jack still makes a little effort to sign and promote bands. Though most of his time is spent getting drunk and shagging hot bimbos, he still manages to be there for his mother during her time of need.
"What Goes Up"
"Must Come Down"
"The Ozz Man and the Sea"
"Beauty and the Bert"
"Smells Like Teen Spirits"
"Meow Means No!!"
"It's a Hard Knock Life"
"Cleanliness is Next to Ozzyness"
"My Big Fat Jewish Wedding"
I'm extremely disappointed with this season's batch of episodes. After the fun and popularity of the first year, I didn't think this was possible. Basking in their renowned fame and expanded fortune, the Osbournes got boring. Their playful antics and self-deprecation were traded in for self-appreciation.
As stated earlier, the problems with the season primarily stem from Sharon and Kelly. Granted, what else should one expect from a show when the central character develops cancer? Yes, things are going to get serious. But, in reality, Sharon is still hilarious. She may be in bed a lot, but when she's up and about, she still knows how to rule the roost and gives better than she receives. The cancer has not dampened her spirit, but the show certainly has. Some of the craziest moments and best lines all stem from Sharon.
The bigger problem is with Kelly and, to a certain extent, Jack. Season two decided to focus much more time on the kids than on the parents. We enjoyed the first season because of the heavy emphasis on Ozzy and Sharon and their interactions with their children, not vice versa. Seeing all things Kelly and Jack is boring. The kids come across as spoiled brats—an amazing transformation from the levelheaded, eccentric kids we knew previously. Do we really want to watch Kelly turn into a little witch? Do we really want to see Jack and his posse in Vegas? No, not really. The kids are integral to the show, but it's Ozzy and Sharon that we need first and foremost.
The few shows where we get that focus on the two parents, namely "The Ozz Man and the Sea," are the best in the bunch. There just isn't enough Ozzy this time around. He's lost in the shuffle, instead of lost shuffling. Ozzy's fascination with burritos, his fight to keep water out of his beach fire, and his handling of his wife's cancer are the most memorable of the season. Season two lost its focus and its fun.
And that translates right into the DVD. The discs of the first season were overstuffed with a multitude of features, but this season is barely sprinkled with anything…and, what little is there is terrible! Usually the most prized bonus feature is an audio commentary, but I warn you not to build any expectations for these. Each episode has a commentary track; on the first six episodes, it's Sharon and Kelly; the last four are helmed by Sharon, Ozzy, and Aimee (the invisible daughter). Without equivocation, these commentaries are the worst you will ever "hear." It turns out that for nine of the ten episodes, nobody had previously watched them, and, surprise!, they rarely talk. For what little talking there is, you get no inside information. What you do get are "don't pick on Jack," "I've never seen this," and "look at the doggies." They really suck! The only glimmer of salvation comes from Aimee, of all people. She too says extremely little, but it is honest and points out how the family is milking every bit of their fame. Unfortunately, it also makes her sound like an absolute bitch. Rounding out the bonus materials are 21 bonus (deleted) scenes (running 32.5 minutes in total), two lame set top games, and some DVD-ROM materials (that I can't judge as my computer is too old). Oh, and I almost forget that they once again included the "Ozzy Translator" for those who need a little help figuring out what he's saying.
There's little to be said about the transfers, which are just about the best thing on the discs. While you'll not get reference quality, the transfers are very adequate for the television medium. Presented in its original full frame ratio, the episodes have realistic colors, nice saturation, and solid detail and contrast; I did not notice any significant transfer errors. The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that has no distortion, hiss, or clipping. Dialogue is well presented with moderate use of channel separation. Again, it's not top of the line, but it suits the show well.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
"America's first family of dysfunction…is back for a second season of reality that's even wilder than the first! As the always unpredictable Osbournes again open their doors to MTV's cameras, the result is another 10 hilarious episodes of unscripted insanity!"
-- Quoted from the back of the DVD package
While I'll gladly agree that this family is dysfunctional, unpredictable, and insane, I cannot agree that these episodes are hilarious and better than the first. Anyone remember the episode where Ozzy claims "I f**king hate bubbles"? How about, "I love you all, but you're all f**king mad"? Or "Madonna can lick my scrotum"? (This last line is somewhat ironic considering the source of Kelly's "fame.") These great lines all come from the first season. Unfortunately, this second season disappoints and is forgettable. There's not one episode that makes me want to put the disc in and watch it again. Not one of the bonus features is so cool that I need to watch it again.
It is with heavy heart that I declare that this second season of The Osbournes is a failure. As such, I cannot recommend this disc on any level—not for rental, not for purchase. Save your money and simply catch up with the family during reruns on MTV.
I hereby find The Osbournes: The Second Season guilty of fraud. Promising us one thing and giving us another, this family has shamefully misrepresented itself with this release. They are sentenced to take one year off from the show to recharge their batteries.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary with The Osbourne Family
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