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

December 4th, 2011

The Lucy Show: Season Five - Buy from Amazon

The Lucy Show started out as a show about two single mothers, Lucille Ball was a widow with two kids and Vivian Vance was a divorcee with a child of her own. They lived together and had many adventures. After the third season, Vivian Vance left the show because she didn't like travelling back and forth between her home in Connecticut and Los Angeles, where the show was filmed. This caused a cascade of changes for season four and it took a while for the show to find its legs again. Was it back to its peak by season five? Or was it slowly coming to an end?

The Show

The season begins with a guest appearance by George Burns and by the end of the first disc we've seen guest appearances by Ed Begley and Paul Winchell (a.k.a. Tigger). And the first disc is a little slow when it comes to guest shots. Some of the best episodes of the first disc have little to do with guests, like Lucy and the Submarine, in which Mr. Theodore J. Mooney (Gale Gordon) gets called up from the Reserves and has to spend time on a submarine. But when Lucy needs him to sign some papers for the bank, she sneaks on the submarine and gets stuck when it dives.

Disc two starts with Lucy getting a roommate, Carol Burnett, who sticks around for a couple episodes (and returns for a couple more next season). In Lucy Gets Caught Up in the Draft Lucy Carmichael gets a draft notice for a Lou C. Carmichael and is forced to go into the marines till it's sorted out. John Wayne shows up as himself in an episode.

Disc three starts with Lucy and Pat Collins, which has Mr. Mooney suffering from insomnia, so Lucy tries to help him by enlisting the services of a hypnotist: Pat Collins. (I don't know who that is either, but she's treated as a special guest star.) Mooney, The Monkey has another strange guest star, a monkey. Or to be more accurate, a person in a rather unconvincing monkey suit. Phil Silvers shows up as an efficiency expert, which should worry Lucy greatly. Lucy goes on vacation in Lucy's Substitute Secretary and her temporary replacement is so good that she's worried about losing her job. Vivian Vance returns to the show in Viv Visits Lucy, while we have more monkeys in Lucy the Babysitter.

Mr. Mooney tries to get a highway built in the two-part Main Street U.S.A. / Lucy Puts Main Street on the Map, but not all of the citizens that would be affected are happy, including Mel Torme and Tigger (a.k.a. Paul Winchell). Don Rickles stars as a former boxer turned flower shop employee. Lucy convinces him to come out of retirement for one fight so he can earn enough money to set up his own shop.

Last season was hit and miss as the writers tried to adjust to the new format. This season it was a lot better, especially if you are a fan of the stunt casting. However, like last season, half the episodes seem to be more about the guest star than the plot.

The Extras

Special features on disc one include a couple bonus sketches, one that was a promo for the show and another from the Victor Borge Comedy Theatre. There are more promos, behind-the-scenes footage of the new opening, as well as image galleries, production notes and bios. Extras on disc two start with Lucy in London, an hour-long special that was aired in 1966 as a follow-up to Lucy Flies to London, but it rarely airs on TV since then. There are also a number of extras associated with this special, including outtakes and a making of documentary. Extras on disc three includes an archival clip of Lucille Ball giving information on Saving Bonds and their 25th anniversary. The final disc has Lucille Ball's acceptance speech at the Emmys, a few outtakes from the season, plus the usual promos, bios, images, etc.

The Verdict

After a bit of a dip in quality during season four, Season Five of The Lucy Show started to show how good the later seasons could be. I still miss seeing Vivian Vance every episode, but the chemistry between Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon, not to mention some great guest stars, helps make this show worth checking out. Add in the better than average special features for a show this old and the DVD is easily worth picking up.

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