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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season

July 16th, 2010

The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season - Buy from Amazon

The Lucy Show started its run back in 1962 and ran for six seasons. However, in underwent a massive change between Season One and Season Two. This includes a few changes in the cast, as well as Desi Arnaz no longer being producer. Also, perhaps most importantly, the TV show was filmed in color, despite the fact that CBS was only going to air the show in black and white. Lucille Ball realized she would get more money when the show was syndicated if it were in color, so as producer, she spent the extra money. Do all of these changes help or hurt the show?

The Show

The basic set up for the show is thus... Lucille Ball plays Lucy, a widow living off a small trust fund set up by her husband and raising her two kids, while Vivian Vance played Vivian, a divorcee raising a child of her own. A running theme throughout the show was Lucy and Vivian's ongoing need for money and their crazy schemes to get it. These are generally highlight episodes. The other main theme is Lucy and her ego, a combination that is guaranteed to cause trouble.

For instance, in Lucy and Viv Play Softball, Lucy is convinced that she's been a benchwarmer during the whole softball season because of her rivalry with Audrey, so she gets a new manager for an off-season charity match. However, it turns out she really just can't play the game and will be sitting on the bench unless one of the other players is incapacitated. More along the first theme are Lucy Gets Locked in the Vault and Lucy and the Safe Cracker, which introduces Mr. Mooney as the new banker in charge of Lucy's trust. In an attempt to get a $50 advance on her allowance, she wants to talk to Mr. Mooney alone, so she closes the vault door with them in the vault. Since this is a timed lock, the pair are stuck there till 9:00 am the next day. When they do get out, the press is there and Lucy tries to show them how she accidentally locked her and Mr. Mooney in the vault, and in the process locks him in the vault. Her relationship with Mr. Mooney get even rockier when she thinks he is embezzling from her trust fund and decides to dig up his back yard to find the money.

Disc two starts with Lucy Decides to Redecorate, which is a "Lucy and her Ego" number. Here she wants to redecorate, but decides to save money by doing the work herself. It starts with her painting the coach and it just goes south from there. In Lucy Puts Out a Fire at the Bank the Town Council needs to fund her volunteer fire department, so Lucy and Viv have to prove they are worth the money. When their training (under the supervision of Skipper Jonas Grumby, a.k.a. Alan Hale, Jr.) goes as poorly as you would expect, they move to plan B. Plan B is fake a fire in the bank and pretending to put it out to look like heroes. The Loophole in the Lease starts with Viv's son leaving the bathtub running and causing $40 in damage, which she will have to pay for, or she will be evicted. But the lease says that Viv can use past rent as a down payment for the house.

Disc three starts with Chris Goes Steady, in which Chris, Lucy's daughter, goes steady with Ted, Mr. Mooney's son. This spurs Lucy and Mr. Mooney to try to put a stop to it... by using reverse psychology. Ethel Merman has a guest shot playing herself in a two-parter. In Lucy and Viv Open a Restaurant, Lucy and Viv open a restaurant, which doesn't do as well as they thought, despite the number of themes they try. However, when Mr. Mooney learns a highway will be built right next to them, he becomes very interested in becoming a partner. It's been a rough year for the Danfield Bank, as their assets have fallen from over $10 million to over $8 million in just a few episodes. (I assume it's just a continuity error, but it's sounds funny.) So they hire Lucy to help drum up business. Part of the plan is to offer a free toaster to anyone who opens an account, so Lucy gets all of her friends to close their accounts and open new ones so she looks good at her job. However, everyone closing their accounts just makes it look like the bank is failing.

The fourth disc only has five episodes, but most are quite good. For instance, Lucy and Viv try and help Mr. Mooney get elected as City Comptroller in Lucy Goes into Politics. Lucy leads her son's Boy Scouts troop on a camping trip in Lucy and the Scout Trip. She's as fit for camping as she is for politics. The season ends with Lucy Enters a Baking Contest, which is arguably the best episode of the season. If not, it's in the top five.

I've read that a lot people think there was a sharp drop-off in quality from season one to season two, but I don't really see it. If there was a drop-off, it is small enough that it is still an easy recommendation. Personally, I think it is a nostalgia thing. This is the first season where Lucy and Dezi were no longer working together after their divorce. Also, it's the first season in color, and I think there's some romantic notion about Black & White that makes it hard to be objective. (I feel the same way about film grain.) Also, apparently Mr. Mooney is seen by some as as unlikable character. However, given how he was introduced to Lucy (she locked him the in vault, twice), he is actually very patient with her. I found myself being quite sympathetic to his plight throughout the season.

The Extras

Extras on the first disc include a 90-second featurette on the move from Black & White to Color and how you can watch the episodes in vintage mode, complete with the original cast commercials and such. (You can also watch these vintage commercials separately.) Let's Talk to Carole is a 24-minute interview with Carole Cook, who had a number of guest shots on the show over the years. Then there are bios for Gale Gordan (Mr. Mooney), bios for the various guest stars for the episode, production notes, and images.

Disc two starts with CBS: The Stars' Address. I remember these. Every year every network would have a special to introduce viewers to their new lineups. I think they went out of fashion in the 80s, if I remember correctly. It's only three minutes long, but an interesting tidbit to have. There are also the usual cast commercials, bios, production notes, and images.

Lucy and the Merm is a four-minute look at the Ethel Merman guest shot, which was originally just one episode but Ethel has too much talent to fit into a single 30-minute show. There are also the usual cast commercials, bios, production notes, and images.

The main extra on Disc Four is the The Lucille Ball Comedy Hour, which was a special from 1964. In the film, Lucy plays the president of the studio who is being forced out by the banker, played by Gale Gordon, a.k.a., Mr. Mooney. Also in the show is Bob Hope, so there's plenty of comedic talent on display here and it doesn't go to waste. Other extras include Let's Talk to Barry, a ten-minute interview with Barry Livingston, who played Arnold Mooney in a couple of episodes this season. Opening Night has a couple of clips from the CBS promotion special. Finally, there are bios on Jess Oppenheimer, guest stars, vintage cast commercials, production notes, and images.

Overall a huge selection with a number of items that add a lot of value to the set. Also, there are proper chapter placements, play all buttons, and subtitles. No complaints on that front.

The Verdict

The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season is the first time we can see Lucille Ball on TV and in color. The quality of the show didn't suffer from season one to season two, while there are still plenty of extras, especially for a show that is closing in on 50 years old. An easy recommendation.

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