Judge P.S. Colbert has definitely flipped his flaming wig!
"Lucy, no, not another one of your kooky capers!"—Mary Jane Lewis
Not one, Mary Jane, but twenty two kooky Lucy Show capers on four discs:
• "Lucy and The Submarine"—Mr. Mooney (Gale Gordon, then 60 years old) is ordered to report for two weeks of Naval Reserve training on a submarine, but he forgot to sign some all-important papers. Nautical nonsense, ahoy!
• "Lucy The Bean Queen"—Oscar-winner Ed Begley (Sweet Bird Of Youth) shines as Colonel Beauregard Bailey, maker of "the best beans you ever ate, or double your money back!" Uh-oh, isn't that Lucy behind the wheel of a forklift?
• "Lucy and Paul Winchell"—The popular ventriloquist's appearance inspires some surreal experiences for Lucy, culminating in her becoming his, erm, Dummy.
• "Lucy and The Ring-A-Ding Ring"—Mr. Mooney makes the mistake of letting Lucy try on the expensive ring he just bought for his wife, and she can't get it off. Turns out she has a "condition" in which stress causes her fingers to swell, so she takes some doctor-prescribed "relaxing pills," and chemically-induced pre-Summer of Love hilarity ensues.
• "Lucy Flies to London"—Lucy wins a jingle-writing contest and the prize is a trip to London. All she has to do is take her very first plane trip. This episode paved the way for the hour-long Lucy In London special that pre-empted the series the next week during its original run; available here as an extra on Disc Two.
• "Lucy and Carol in Palm Springs"—Guess where Lucy and her (short-lived) roommate go? Music and merriment abounds.
• "Lucy Gets Caught in The Draft"—A military snafu results in Lucy dressed in olive drab. Any references to Vietnam are absent, but hats off to veteran character actor Harry Hickox (No Time For Sergeants) for his bravura turn as a harried drill instructor.
• "Lucy and John Wayne"—The Duke has successfully fought off redskins and red communists, but even he's no match for this red-headed cannonball!
• "Mooney the Monkey"—Lucy is absolutely certain she's not on the verge of hallucinations brought on by overwork. Then again, she's reasonably certain the big monkey sitting at the next desk is Mr. Mooney.
• "Lucy and The Efficiency Expert"—Phil Silvers (Sgt. Bilko) brings his patented brand of snarky comedic chaos to the role of "efficiency expert" O.K. Kasten.
• "Lucy's Substitute Secretary"—When Lucy sees the sexy temp brought in to cover for her ("A one-woman Peyton Place!"), she forgoes vacation plans in order to spy on her own office; in a variety of wacky disguises, of course!
• "Viv Visits Lucy"—TV's original "Golden Girls" are together again. Not that they're a pair of moldy oldies; just look at how easily they mix in with the hippie/beatnik (Hipnik?) scene on the Sunset Strip!
• "Lucy The Baby Sitter"—Fed up once and for all with Mr. Mooney's disrespect, Lucy switches careers and winds up babysitting a family of chimpanzees.
• "Lucy Puts Main Street on The Map"—Lucy engages in a bit of media manipulation, in order to gain a wider audience for her cause.
• "Lucy Meets The Law"—It's all a big misunderstanding: Lucy thinks she's been nabbed for littering, and the cops think they've finally caught the notorious "Red-headed Shoplifter."
• "Lucy The Fight Manager"—Once a promising pugilist, Eddie Rickles (Don Rickles, C.P.O. Sharkey) plans a comeback with his new trainer, "Killer" Carmichael.
• "Lucy and Tennessee Ernie Ford"—The "Sixteen Tons" singer plays Homer Higgins, a country singing sensation who's just hit the big city and looking for a bank to safeguard his milly-ohns of dollars.
• "Lucy Meets Sheldon Leonard"—Legendary silver screen gangster Sheldon Leonard (Guys And Dolls) contracts to use the bank off-hours to film a crime scene. Guess who didn't get the memo?
Why stand on ceremony? This collection features the flame-haired television queen in absolute peak performance condition.How many fifty five year old women do you know who are not only ready, but willing to have a rocking horse race with the Marquis Chimps? Suffice it to say, if you don't know Lucy, you've probably never come in contact with a TV.
If you're following the story in progress, you'll be happy to know that after a shaky, transitional fourth season—which saw Mrs. Carmichael switching from east coast to west, shipping her kids off to private schools, bidding adieu to best gal pal Viv, and bumbling her way through a series of silly one-off jobs—The Lucy Show found its feet again in Season Five. Now gainfully employed as the personal secretary of bank Vice President Theodore J. Mooney (the one and only Gale Gordon, in all his bristling, bellowing, stammering, sputtering glory), Lucy is free to get herself into all kinds of mirthful mischief with and without her "best friend in the whole world," Mary Jane (Mary Jane Croft, The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet), not to mention an impressive array of celebrity guests.
For my money, the season's biggest score is Carol Burnett, whose two consecutive appearances doubtless factored into CBS' decision to give the comedienne her own long-running variety show the very next fall. But the season's centerpiece comes in a two-episode arc centered around "Main Street, USA," which benefits from the rare gift of original songs written and sung by "The Velvet Fog" himself, Mel Tormè and the gift of seeing John Bubbles (Cabin In The Sky) in action. Born John William Sublett, the singing and dancing vaudeville legend (who mentored no less than Mr. Fred Astaire) is truly an unsung African American hero. Even though he was 64 years old at time of this broadcast, Bubbles moves with the athletic grace of a man forty years younger; pure magic to watch.
I could go on about The Lucy Show: The Official Fifth Season, but we need to talk about the entire DVD package which is positively stuffed with extras.
Never mind the usual suspects (Bloopers, Cast biographies, Production notes, etc.), there is a clip of Lucille Ball taking home a well-deserved Emmy for this season's work, a skit from The Victor Borge Comedy Theatre, a special 1966 presentation to CBS affiliates, and a 10 minute film commemorating the 25th anniversary of savings bonds. But the crown jewel is Lucy In London, an hour-long musical comedy romp, filmed on location and offering a spectacular, eagle-eyed look at "Swinging London," then at the height of Beatlemania. Featuring an eclectic mix of guests including supermodel Twiggy, Anthony Newley (Doctor Dolittle), and The Dave Clark Five (Having A Wild Weekend!), the special's inclusion here marks the first time it's been seen publically since October 24, 1966.
Presented in its original 1.33:1 standard definition aspect ratio, the digitally remastered visuals and Dolby Mono audio for both the series and the aforementioned special have been amazingly transferred here. It's hard to imagine even the most dedicated Lucy fans feeling any sense of lack from this superior collection.
You want to see Gale Gordon turn a full cartwheel? See "Lucy And Pat Collins." How about Lucie Arnaz in a walk-on role as a barefoot flower child? See"Lucy And The Ring-A-Ding Ring." I'll be over here impatiently awaiting the release of Season Six.
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