THE LUCY SHOW
Region 2 Edition - Reviewed by Andrew Smith
Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Phil Silvers, Gale Gordon
Director: Maury Thompson
By the 1960’s Lucille
Ball was the undisputed queen of American television in a way that
comediennes today, like Jennifer Aniston or Ellen DeGeneres can only dream
of. I Love Lucy sent Ball and husband Desi Arnez to the top
of the comedy ladder, with millions tuning in for each new installment of
the revolutionary sitcom. However as the fifties rolled on the strains of
maintaining a successful working and private relationship began to take
its toll: I Love Lucy could not continue with a couple who simply
did not love each other as they used to, and so they decided to call it a
day. Lucy needed a new vehicle for her talent, and so The Lucy Show
was created in 1962. The show went through many different formats
throughout its run, with children, employers and friends being acquired
and dropped along the way. Classic Entertainment has recently released two
volumes of the 1965-6 version of the show on DVD.
The first volume
contains the following episodes:
Lucy and Paul
Winchell - Lucy
recruits ventriloquist Paul Winchell for her Boss’ big bank benefit but
runs into trouble when she leaves his Dummies in the back seat of a taxi.
Somebody has to step in…
Lucy and the
Lucy’s stress-induced swollen fingers cause trouble when they get stuck
inside Mr. Mooney’s wife’s anniversary present.
Lucy Gets a
Roommate - Lucy
advertises for a roommate, but isn’t impressed with frumpy Carol (Carol
Burnett). Introducing her to Lucy‘s musical friends soon sets her free.
Lucy and Carol
in Palm Springs -
Carol convinces Lucy to accompany her band to Palm Springs. Unfortunately
the pair don’t count on Mr. Mooney showing up as well. This episode
features Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In's Dan Rowan.
Of the two sets this is
the weakest, with only Lucy and the Ring-a-Ding-Ding
really counting as a classic. All are still enjoyable, if not perfect.
The second volume
contains another set of four episodes:
Lucy and Pat
Collins - Lucy
convinces Mr. Mooney he must visit hypnotist Pat Collins to cure his
Lucy and the
Monkey - Believing
herself to be suffering from a nervous breakdown Lucy mistakes a real life
gorilla for her boss, Mr. Mooney. Facing her fear of this ‘hallucination’
she treats the monkey as if he were her boss. This episode is sometimes
known as Mooney The Monkey.
Lucy and Phil
Silvers - The new company efficiency
expert, Mr Kasten (Silvers of Bilko fame) employs Lucy as his new
secretary. On one trip to a toy factory, Mr Kasten’s streamlining does not
exactly go to plan.
Lucy, the Baby
Sitter - To
make some extra money Lucy takes a babysitting job. Things get a little
hectic when the children turn out to be little monkeys…literally.
This set contains much
stronger examples of Lucy’s comic ability. The Phil Silvers episode in
particular is just as good as any of her earlier work. Only Lucy, the
Babysitter stands out as being weaker than the rest.
Each installment can be
selected from a single static menu. Each episode has three chapters.
The image quality is
variable. This is partly to do with the fact that The Lucy Show is
now in the Public Domain. Prints used for the many home video releases come
from various sources. One of the first things to notice is that these
prints seem to have replaced titles, and may come from syndicated versions
of the series. This may also mean that cuts have been made to the
episodes. As I have never seen them in other formats I can not judge. Film
dirt is also noticeable but not distracting.
The only episode that
becomes virtually unwatchable at times in Lucy, the Baby Sitter
which is very bright and high-contrast at times, with faces in particular
being bleached out (as can be seen in the first image in the strip above).
All the episodes have been cheaply converted from NTSC masters, and
exhibit characteristic interpolation problems. Colours have a distinct
NTSC-skew to them, and are often smeary. On the whole, though, given the
price of these discs, the quality is perfectly reasonable.
The average bit rate for
both episodes is around 5.5Mb/s which is quite reasonable. There are no
noticeable compression artefacts. Audio is mono and very clear at all
The Lucy Show,
while not as funny or as charming as I Love Lucy, is
still very entertaining and funny. It is also wonderful to see Lucy in
colour as opposed to her early, better-known performances. There are
numerous Lucy Show discs available, here and, of course, in the US.
These disks are available in pound shops around the country, and provide a
great introduction to the series at minimal cost.
NOTE: Catalogue numbers
for these Classic Entertainment discs, for identification purposes, are:
CE 059 and CE 060.