TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Osbournes: Reloaded”

Oh, this looks so bad. So very, very, very bad. Like, “Rosie Live” bad.

The idea of giving the Osbournes their own comedy-variety show is not in and of itself a bad idea. When I first heard about “Osbournes: Reloaded,” I immediately had thoughts of my favorite cheesy, kitschy variety shows from the ’70s – see the collected works of Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie, and, of course, “The Brady Bunch Hour” – and could totally imagine Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and Kelly either turning the genre on its head or totally and utterly camping it up. Either way, I was actually kind of excited to see what might evolve out of this concept. But when they showed us clips from the show, I was horrified to see a mixture of in-studio shenanigans with audience members (they blindfold a guy, tell him he’s going to kiss the beautiful girl in front of him, then switch her out with a wrinkled old woman) and hidden-camera hijinks (the Osbournes working at a fast-food drive-thru). There was a sketch with little kids playing Sharon and Ozzy (cue the cursing 5-year-old), plus a brief clip of the Osbournes trying to guess who their mystery special guest for the week was. The one lone humorous concept came from a bit called “The Osbournes Meet The Osbournes,” where the gang goes around the country to meet other families who share their last name, but even that seems like it would get old really quickly.

More disappointing than this footage, however, was the fact that, as a family unit, the Osbournes remain just as entertaining and charismatic as they were in the days of their then-groundbreaking MTV reality series.

What a waste. What a bloody waste.

And, yet, I guess it was too hopeful to expect something like that from the Osbournes in the first place, particularly when you could see Kelly bristle at the mere mention of the term “variety show.”

“See, that frightens us,” she said. “The way that we see that it’s a variety show is that there’s a variety of different things. And with no disrespect to other variety shows from the past because, I mean, they made the TV of today. It’s just not what we do. We’re not going to be Sonny-and-Chering it.”

“Osbournes: Reloaded” is being produced by Mike Darnell, best known for his work on Fox’s “Moment of Truth,” and for what it’s worth, he immediately followed Kelly’s Sonny and Cher comment by coughing, “Rosie!

“Historically, I’m a pretty conservative guy,” claimed Darnell. “But when I met the Osbournes, you know what? We’re letting them go as far as they can. And, you know, we’ll bleep what we can’t put on. We’ll edit what is too rough. They’re raunchy. They’re funny. That’s what they are. It fits our brand really well. It fits my personal brand really well. And, you know, I think it’s that sort of mix: they’re raunchy and funny and they’re all those great things, but they’re also this warm, real family. And that mix…it’s been dynamite. It’s really exciting to watch. And it’s come out, to be honest, better than I think any of us thought it was going to. It’s really funny, and it’s a really terrific show.”

“I’ve turned around to my mum after we’ve finished filming stuff and said, ‘Mum, are you sure they’re going to let that on TV? You sure they’re going to? I mean, is that not just too far?'” said Kelly. “But so far, we’ve been lucky. I mean, every rehearsal, we had people in the front row, like lawyers saying, ‘Yes, no, yes, no.’ But it’s been very interesting and fun pushing buttons, to be honest.”

Maybe I’m getting on my high horse a bit early. Maybe the show will turn out to be better than the clips would have me believe. I mean, to hear Darnell and his fellow producer, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, discuss the show, you’d think it was going to be groundbreaking television.

“The show is a mix of different elements which come from just a general landscape of unscripted television,” said Frot-Coutaz, “so you have some game elements and you have some audience-participation elements. There’s the mini-Osbourne sketches that you saw. There’s ‘The Osbournes meet the Osbournes,’ which is really a kind of meet-and-greet and fish-out-of-water clash of culture. So you have a lot of very diverse elements, and the glue to it all is the family and their take on these situations and their personal dynamic and their edge. So, in that sense, it doesn’t resemble anything that you would have seen in this marketplace, I believe. It’s hard to liken it to anything else.”

Yeah, but that just doesn’t strike me as a good thing in this case.

Still, at least there’s Ozzy. When he can actually hear the questions being posed to him, he’s always got a witty retort. Someone asked him how he’d changed since “The Osbournes” went off the air, and he shrugged and said, “I don’t know, but I put a different suit on this morning.” When someone queried as to whether the new series was considered a family show, he replied, “We’ve got a a very disturbed, dysfunctional family doing a very dysfunctional show.” And when Sharon freely described herself as a TV whore, he snapped, “I’m glad you’ve finally admitted that,” then addressed the audience and added, “She’d go on a tampon-marketing show.”

But would that tampon-marketing show be better than “Osbournes: Reloaded”? Time will tell.

  

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