Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the weekly Blog DVD Review! Today we take a look at MPI Home Video's Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie. Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie . See skees53's Blog DVD Review of Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie:

Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie (MPI, $19.98) gives fans of one of the most well-known couples in all of TV history a view of what things were like off-camera. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the stars of the classic TV series I Love Lucy, were married in 1940 and in their twenty years of marriage, they managed to build a TV legacy in a way that few (if any) others could successfully do.
Although the phrase "a home movie" appears in the title, it is a bit misleading. There are many clips from home movies from the private collection of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, although a lot of the documentary is interviews with family, friends, producers, and others that knew the couple most of all. There are also a few interspersed clips of interviews with Lucy and Desi from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The documentary starts nearly a century ago, with the childhood of Lucy and Desi. We find out here that both of them came from families that had certain difficulties. We hear quite a bit about Lucy's childhood, but not quite so much about Desi's.
The documentary quickly segues into the married life of Lucy and Desi, where we find out a lot about the movie careers that Lucy and Desi had in the 1940s, basically all of which were through the film studio RKO. And then, we get to the divorce--the first one in 1944, which never actually happened. Lucy decided that she wanted to divorce Desi because he was allegedly cheating on her (although Lucie Arnaz says that he always told her that he wasn't fooling around with other women in the way that other people though). The divorce never came to be, which opened the door to the big thing that was coming in a few years, a little TV series called I Love Lucy.
The year was 1951. Lucy and Desi had their first child, a daughter named Lucie Arnaz (one of the producers of this very documentary) and just a few months later, production of the series I Love Lucy began. But production costs for the series were a little expensive, and neither CBS nor Philip Morris were able to fully fund the series, so Desi Arnaz had an enterprising idea--he and Lucy would help to fund the series provided that he could have the film rights to the series. And so began the well-know TV studio of the 1950s and 1960s, Desilu. Not all went will for them in the 1950s, however. It was discovered that Lucy's hair was not the only red thing about her, and that she was also registered as a Communist in New York. It had the potential to destroy her entire career (as it had done to many other celebrities at the time), but luckily she came away mostly unscathed. As the 50s progress, we see the marriage of Lucy and Desi beginning to go into a slow decline, mostly due to Desi's use of drugs and alcohol, and the documentary takes us all the way to the 1960s, where Lucy takes control of Desilu away from Desi and the divorce proceedings begin. The documentary ends with a brief look into their lives after the divorce, and ends with a home movie from the 80s with Lucy and Desi in a swimming pool with their grandchild, with Desi singing (what else?) Babalu.
The DVD has very basic packaging (as it is only one disc) and very basic menus. They are simple, but functional for what it is worth. There is an option on the menus to turn on English subtitles for those that require them. The video and audio quality of the DVD and the special features is generally pretty impressive, except perhaps for the quality of the game show episodes from the 1950s. Of course, considering that these were never intended to be preserved in the first place, there isn't much to truly complain about with this.
The DVD is not without bonus features, either. We also have more interviews (31:07) on the disc from Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. (in addition to the interviews featured in the documentary) that reflect upon the lives of their parents in a more candid perspective. There are even outtakes (20:32) from the interviews featured in the documentary! One of my favorite special features happens to be the original commercials (12:50) that are included that came from episodes of The Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz Show (better known these days as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour). Basically, these are extended commercials for Westinghouse that feature the characters from the series in their roles. I love how these older series integrated the characters into the commercials! These are very fun to watch.
The next two special features are sure to please game show fans. The first is a segment from the game show What's My Line? (9:15) where the celebrity panelists are blindfolded and have to guess the mystery celebrity on stage--which happens to be Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz! Additionally, we have an entire episode of the game show I've Got a Secret (23:48) with a special celebrity panelist for the episode, Lucille Ball. Finally, we have a Photo Gallery which features many photos from the private collection of Lucy and Desi, and we have a promo from MPI (2:03) for an upcoming DVD release (in season form) which many fans may have already heard of: the TV series Here's Lucy!
All in all, it isn't a bad documentary, although it does seem to be drag on a bit too slowly at times. I personally would have found it to be more interesting if it had a greater focus on the TV careers of Lucy and Desi. It seems to focus more upon their film careers and family life. Of course, the most dedicated fans of Lucille Ball are certain to love this, but to the casual fan, a lot of it may seem to be extraneous information. I kind of expected to find more information about the more negative aspects of their lives in the documentary, but it seemed that they skimped on some of the details of these events. That isn't to say that they completely ignore them, though. Fans of the work of Lucy, as well as anybody that is interested in television's golden era will definitely appreciate this DVD.
Reviewed by skees53
(4.5/5 stars)

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Related links: Full DVD Reviews Page
I Love Lucy Page
Here's Lucy Page

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

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09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 26

The Goldbergs - "Stefan King" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Adam’s love of Stephen King inspires him to try his hand at horror writing. After learning the monster in Adam’s story is based off Beverly, she forces Adam to stay in on Halloween and rewrite it, hoping he depicts her as a better mother.  Meanwhile, Erica is desperate to find a date to the costume dance and forces Barry go with her.

Speechless - "H-A-L-- HALLOWEEN" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy is upset the kids no longer want to participate in the family tradition of dressing up for Halloween. Maya tries to cheer up Jimmy by allowing him to do things he loves by taking things off the family “Dead to Me” list. Meanwhile, Ray recruits Dylan to help work the school’s haunted mansion while Kenneth is scared of losing his job when JJ gets drunk at a party.  Even though Maya is furious, she is thrilled to see JJ having a “normal” life.

Modern Family - "Halloween 4: The Revenge of Rod Skyhook" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Luke’s Halloween party isn’t the monster bash he dreamed of and is at risk of having the worst party of the year. Sensing trouble, the rest of the Dunphy’s realize all his party needs is a visit from Rod Skyhook, a little promotion and some adult supervision to get it started. Meanwhile at the Tucker-Pritchett home, Cam faces off with his Halloween nemesis while Lily and Mitchell try to save the day and work to keep him from going to the darkside. Finally, when Jay finds out that Manny is going to a party at the home of an old enemy, he enlists him to deliver a trick he will never forget.

black-ish - "The Purge" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After Junior embarrasses Dre during a basketball game, Dre decides to remind Junior of his master pranking skills so he’ll never challenge him again. Meanwhile, the neighborhood participates in a “mischief night” during Halloween where petty crimes become legal, and Ruby takes it too far with the kids.

Younger - "P Is for Pancake" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Kelsey dates a seemingly perfect guy, but Liza and Lauren think it’s too soon. At a party of doctors, Josh puts his relationship with Liza under the microscope.

Impastor - "Sins of the Past-or Part 2" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Dora’s and Alexa’s lives are both in jeopardy and Buddy must choose which one to save. Russell and Dora have a falling out. Schmidt is robbed.

You're the Worst - "The Seventh Layer" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Vernon and Paul take a road trip.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Wednesday, October 26

  • Joel McHale (The Great Indoors/Community) - Watch Joel on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) - Abbi visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces) - Colin appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Colton Dunn (Superstore), Lauren Ash (Superstore/Super Fun Night and Nico Santos (Superstore) - Colton, Lauren and Nico are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Donald Glover (Atlanta/Community) - Donald appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - See what happens when Dr. Oz visits the set of Dr. Ken on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - John talks about The Crown on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Boris Kodjoe (The Last Man on Earth/Second Time Around) - Boris joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Issa Rae (Insecure) - Issa is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces) - Colin talks about Life in Pieces on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory/Blossom) - Mayim is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Marisa Tomei (A Different World) - Marisa appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Betsy Brandt (Life in Pieces/The Michael J. Fox Show) - Betsy talks about Life in PieceS on the AOL Build Show at 12pm.