Judge P.S. Colbert loves Lucy, but Ralph Malph remains his favorite redhead.
"An All-Star Season!"
The red-haired TV queen of comedy pulled the plug on her second self-named series after six years and 156 episodes, despite its continued success in the ratings (#2 for the 1967-68 season) and much love from the Emmy voters (awarding Lucy with Lead Actress honors for the second year in a row). Why? Apparently, the motive was strictly business. Ms. Ball had decided to sell off her stake in Desilu Productions to Paramount-Gulf/Western for big bucks, giving the conglomerate full ownership of Desilu's catalog. Of course, CBS had no desire to part ways with their biggest revenue generator, and were more than happy to accommodate Lucy's plan to return in the fall of 1968 with Here's Lucy, a revamped sitcom under her complete autonomous control.
Watching The Lucy Show's final season, it's obvious a change was needed. First, peruse the episode list, wherein the titles of most tell you everything you have to know.
• "Lucy Meets The Berles"
Yes, it's a virtual cavalcade of visitations from stars of another century, popping in to share the soundstage with Mrs. Lucy Carmichael, her boss Mr. Mooney (Gale Gordon, Dennis The Menace), his boss Mr. Cheever (Roy Roberts, Force Of Evil), and Lucy's zany-voiced gal pal Mary Jane (Mary Jane Croft, The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet). Most of these occasions devolve into elaborate dancing and singing revues, steering The Lucy Show more towards musical variety than situation comedy.
There are also appearances from Richard Arlen and Charles "Buddy" Rogers (co-stars of 1927's Wings, Oscar's first "Best Picture"), Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce), Buddy Hackett (The Love Bug), Jacques Bergerac (Les Girls), Edie Adams (It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World), Frankie Avalon (Back To The Beach), Mary Wickes (Sister Act), Jackie Coogan (The Addams Family), Robert Pine (CHiPs), and a pair of visits from Vivian Vance who reprises her role of Vivian Bagley, the show's original second banana.
In "Lucy And Viv Reminisce," the girlfriends are temporarily reunited when Viv drops by to play nursemaid to Lucy, currently sidelined with a broken leg. Though the episode consists primarily of clips from earlier shows (most in black and white), the time spent is nevertheless a delight. The clips are hilarious, but underscore the real problem with this final season: it's just not that funny.
That isn't to say The Lucy Show doesn't entertain. The musical episodes pack more "big show" value into a half hour slot than most "variety hours" ever managed to. And though the number of laughs may have diminished, the quality has not, thanks to the expert comic timing of Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon, one of television's truly magical odd couples.
Paramount's packaging promises "24 episodes beautifully restored," and they're as good as their word. Any signs of aging are nearly invisible on these full-screen (mostly color) transfers. The Dolby 2.0 Mono tracks holds up its end of the bargain, and the added English SDH subtitles are always a plus.
If you've always wanted to know what it would be like to catch The Lucy Show dubbed in Italian, this set will scratch that itch. Bonus features include a sketch from the first season of The Carol Burnett Show, with Lucy (and Tim Conway) guesting; a clip of Lucy at the 1968 Emmy awards; vintage opening and closing credits with their original sponsor tags; funny flub outtakes; costume sketches; photo galleries; and production notes.
Lucille Ball said, "Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead." After watching The Lucy Show: The Final Season, you'll wonder whether you even had a choice.
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Scales of Justice
• Bonus Episode in Italian
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