Premiering Tuesday night on Fox after "American Idol," Osbournes Reloaded" -- or as I like to think of it, "Osbournes Satyricon" -- brought the self-proclaimed "first family of being . . . up" into what had been described as variety. It is not variety of the singing/dancing/plate-spinning sort, however, but a series of stunts and pranks interlaced with taped comedy bits that play off the Osbournes' image as rude, crude and lewd -- in an expensively dressed sort of way -- and not fit for normal life.
"Stuff that really makes us laugh," said Osbourne boy Jack, who co-hosted with father Ozzy, mother Sharon (in charge as usual) and sister Kelly.
Ozzy's eminent heavy-metal thunder aside, the family became famous through MTV's "The Osbournes," an unlikely but winning series that was a kind of conceptual pun on "Ozzie and Harriet." As the dawn of a now well-established genre, in which famous people allow cameras into their messy lives, it was a milestone, but there was also something genuinely amazing about the show, an unprecedented glimpse into hard-rock domesticity, a functional dysfunctional family, and its barely functioning Dad. One felt for Ozzy in some vaguely sitcomical way.
"We're going to have a . . . good time tonight!" cried the old bat-biter Tuesday night in what was just the first of the evening's many, many, many, many bleeps. (He seemed fantastically energized, I will say.) A large, excitable audience, which had the benefit of having not yet seen the show, made noise.
In the context of an Ozzy concert, this all might have seemed a radical bit of stagecraft -- might have even seemed satirical, at a stretch. But as television, it comes off just as wasted energy and bad ideas: Ozzy in a leotard in a "Flashdance" parody, whose punch line was flatulence; the family attempting to work in a fast-food restaurant; "The Littlest Osbournes," in which Ozzy and wife Sharon are portrayed as children, and whose humor depended entirely on watching little children curse. Nothing was as funny as the cellphone ads Ozzy's done lately.
The show's opening prank involved tricking a young man into kissing, blindfolded, an old woman. ("Fabulous! Fabulous!" cried Ozzy). In another, like something out of "Jerry Springer," a man was given an ultimatum by his longtime girlfriend to either marry her by the end of the show or say goodbye forever.
"Remember," said Sharon, "this is a big decision, so take your time." In the end, standing before his pastor, the groom said yes, and celebrity cover band Camp Freddy struck up "White Wedding" as Ozzy sprayed everyone within range with foamy stuff.
"Marriage," the pastor had said, "is not something to be entered into lightly," apparently forgetting to look up. It was an unpleasant juxtaposition of real emotion and mob rule.
At least 16 Fox affiliates declined to air the show. Said General Manager David Caviller of WPGX in Panama City, Fla., "It does not serve my public." That public can serve itself via the Fox website, should it so desire, but there are many better ways to kill half an hour.