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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Lucy Show: Season Four

April 23rd, 2011

The Lucy Show: Season Four - Buy from Amazon

The Lucy Show ran four six season starting in 1962, and for many of those seasons, the behind-the-scenes were very tumultuous. Hardly a year could go by without major changes with the cast, the writers, producers, etc. Arguably the biggest change came at the start of season four when long-time Lucille Ball cohort Vivian Vance left the show to spend more time with her husband. How would this show deal with such a change? Could it survive?

At the beginning of the season, Lucille Ball is escorting her son to military school, which is something he's looking forward to attending, partially because it's in California and he's never been there before. They moved there because Lucy's daughter is going to college nearby. But when she goes to the bank, she finds out her old banker, Mr. Mooney, moved to California. And he had thought he had gotten away from her. The season premiere also has an excellent example of the other big change for this season. Harvey Korman plays the headmaster of the military school. Stunt casting was a major deal in season four. Hell, the show practically raised it to an art form.

Lucy goes on a blind date with Howard Morris, helps Mel Torme write a song, performs on Danny Thomas's show, dates Clint Walker, meets Milton Berle while he's trying to prepare for a dramatic role as a homeless person and she thinks he really is homeless, discovers Wayne Newton, becomes the rain goddess of a Indian tribe that includes Jamie Farr, becomes a contestant on an Art Linkletter show after talking too much during a taping, gets acting lessons from Mickey Rooney... And I haven't even gotten to the episode where she goes to Hollywood.

Granted, the plots tend to melt into the background and the episodes are more about Lucille Ball having fun with the celebrity guest of the week. Not that this is a problem, as Lucy has amazing chemistry with nearly everyone she works with. It is such a major change from the first three seasons that one could almost call it a new show, so keep that in mind.

The Extras

Extras on the four-disc set start with six minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, archival promos, ads, etc., as well as image galleries, production notes, and bios. Disc two has Lucille Ball's performance on the Danny Thomas special, The Wild World Burlesque, radio PSAs Gale Gordon did for road safety, as well as the usual selection of production notes, promos, bios, and image galleries. Disc three has a recreation of a corporate presentation Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon did for Beatrice Foods, plus the usual bios, promos, image galleries, and production notes. Finally on disc four we find a seven-minute clip of The Magic of Broadcasting, which was a TV special aired in 1966 and features rehearsals for the show. Rounding out the extras are more bios, promos, production notes, and images. That's quite a selection of extras for a show that's closing in on 50 years old.

The Verdict

The Lucy Show can be split up into two incarnations. The first three seasons it was a typical sitcom with character based humor. Starting with Season Four it became focused more on the guest starts and plots and continuity went out the window. This does make it hard to review individual episodes, as the plot is just a flimsy excuse to get Lucille Ball to interact with the guest star of the week. (Milton Berle's down on his luck brother? Not even Lucy Carmichael would buy that.) But the show is just as funny as ever. The comedic talent on display here is incredible and the four-disc set is worth picking up.

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