Featured TV on DVD Review: I Love Lucy: Season One
May 4th, 2014
I've reviewed a number Lucille Ball TV shows over the years, including The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy. I Love Lucy is still the one remembered the most, and loved the most, by people. It is a true classic. Like The Honeymooners, which I just reviewed, there's little need to go over the show itself and this review will focus more on the Blu-ray and how it compared to the DVD.
Lucille Ball stars as Lucy and Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo, a married couple living in New York City. He's a Cuban singer and in many episodes, Lucy tries to get in on his act. Vivian Vance plays Ethel and William Frawley plays Fred, the married neighbors who are also Lucy and Ricky's best friends. Ethel is also the one who most often gets mixed up in Lucy's crazy scheme of the week. (Although to be fair, Ricky has more than a few crazy schemes of his own.)
Like many TV shows, the first season isn't the best. Don't get me wrong, there are some absolute classic episodes, like Lucy Does a TV Commercial, Men Are Messy, etc. But there are some that are weaker, like The Benefit and The Ballet. Of the 35 episodes on this six-disc set, only six or so are not excellent. There are more truly classic episodes than there are episodes that are merely good.
Lucille Ball was an amazing business woman and she understood right away that the behind-the-scenes elements of the show would be worth something someday and she kept a lot of them. As a result, there are a ton of extras, much more so than you would expect given the age of the show. Disc one has a ten-minute featurette of test footage for the show. There is also a remastered 1990 TV special for the unaired pilot. There is a 20-second promo for the show. There is a 60-minute audio-only featurette first made for the Criterion Collection laserdisc. Up next is a 2-minute look at the remastering before and after. There are three minutes of Flubs, minor mistakes that were kept in the show, because that's just how TV shows were made back then. Finally, there is are two episodes of the original radio program.
Over on Disc Two, extras begin with three minutes of color home movies. The Sunday Lucy Show is the opening and closing of the repeats of I Love Lucy that were shown on Sunday. There are two more Flubs. Meet Marc Daniels is a text-based biography of the director. There are three more episodes from the radio show of My Favorite Husband. There are also text-based biographies for a number of Guest Cast and Sponsor Talent. Finally, there are production notes and a photo gallery.
Disc three has the usual features: Flubs, two episodes of My Favorite Husband, Guest Cast and Sponsor Talent bios, production notes, and finally a photo gallery. Disc four has identical extras, except there's only one episode of My Favorite Husband. Disc five is the same as disc four, with a couple of pictures of Jess Oppenheimer in a Harpo Marx wig.
Disc Six starts with more Flubs. There are also two more audio-only featurettes first made for the Criterion Collection laserdisc. Fancy Editing looks at two changes made for syndication removing one of the original sponsors. There are four more episodes of My Favorite Husband. And finally, there are excerpts from a behind-the-scenes audio book.
The technical presentation is amazing, when you consider the age of the show. It is more than 60 years old, but the picture quality is great. The level of details was better that I was expecting with strong contrast and almost no flaws. The audio is crisp, albeit uncomplicated due to its 2.0 mono mix.
As for the price, the list price of $130 and a discounted price of $75 on Amazon.com. This is expensive when compared to contemporary Blu-ray releases. However, the remastering process is expensive, so you have to take that into account.
If you don't own I Love Lucy: Season One, you really should. It is an absolute classic TV series and its influence is still seen today. The Blu-ray is a big step up in terms of video quality, but it is expensive and that will turn off some people.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review