Sunday, July 05, 2009

Blog DVD Review Special: The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky/Three For Two

Our summer weekly report will not be posted today due to the holiday weekend. Instead we bring you a special Blog DVD Review on a special day with The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky/Three For Two.

Today we take a look at MPI's The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky/Three For Two. These were two hour-long CBS specials that aired in the '70s. See skees53's Blog DVD Review of The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky/Three For Two:

The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky/Three For Two (MPI, $19.98) features two hour long specials from CBS starring Lucille Ball. After nearly a quarter century of starring in three different top-rated CBS sitcoms, Lucille Ball was ready to leave the weekly grind of producing and starring in new episodes, so after the 1973-1974 season, her third series, Here's Lucy, left the CBS lineup. But she wasn't quite ready to leave CBS, which brings us the Lucille Ball specials. These specials were much like a movie-of-the-week featuring Lucille Ball, and she was given a creative license to do pretty much whatever she desired on them. They began in 1974 with Happy Anniversary and Goodbye, which is not featured on this disc, but will be on the next disc. On this disc, we have the second and third special, Lucy Gets Lucky featuring Dean Martin and Three for Two featuring Jackie Gleason. There were ultimately eight specials total, ending with the 1980 special, Lucy Moves to NBC, which will also be featured on a future release from MPI.

The first of the two features on this DVD is Lucy Gets Lucky, an hour-long special from 1975 featuring Dean Martin. In this special, we have Lucy taking a trip to the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas to see Dean Martin perform, a show that everybody in "sin city" wants to see, but is forced to make reservations for eight since they won't take her reservation for one. When she shows up to claim her reservations, however, she finds that her scheme to get just one seat has failed, and she loses all eight of her seats. Determined to do anything to see Dean Martin, she discovers that employees of the hotel will have an opportunity to see him perform in a special employee show, and decides to turn her little vacation into a career as a blackjack dealer! Will she make it big in this job, or will typical Lucy antics cause her to fail? Jackie Coogan is also featured in this special, and Gary Morton (Lucille Ball's husband) plays a minor role.

The second feature is Three for Two, another hour-long special from 1975, where Lucille Ball stars with comedic legend Jackie Gleason. Here, we see what we get when two comedic legends come together: a comedy-drama (which leans heavily on the drama side) reminiscent of the TV series Love, American Style. There are three stories presented here about three different couples (all played by Ball and Gleason), beginning with "Herb & Sally." In this story, the couple is on a vacation in Rome to escape their problems at home, but Herb isn't prepared to escape them. This causes more marital unhappiness with the couple. "Fred & Rita" presents a story that resembles a plot that would be found on a soap opera. Fred is married, and so is Rita, and they are in love with each other. But they aren't married to each other, and must go to great lengths to cheat on their respective spouses. In the third installment, "Mike & Pauline," Ball and Gleason play parents of adult children that want to spend New Years' Eve out celebrating, instead of the usual family tradition of spending it. Mike has a man-to-man talk with his son about his relationship, and Pauline has a woman-to-woman talk with her daughter about her relationship.

Lucy Gets Lucky is enjoyable and has some great moments that will remind Lucille Ball fans of the slapstick routines that made her the biggest name on television in the '50s and '60s. Three For Two, in all honesty, proves that Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason weren't quite made for the TV drama genre. There are many great moments in these, and the stories aren't bad, but one would tend to expect something hilarious with these two comic geniuses on one set. Instead, we have a sappy romantic drama that is reminiscent of an episode of Love, American Style, and a bad one at that. Still, die-hard fans of Lucille Ball will enjoy Three For Two, and it is also a rare opportunity to see these comedic legends on the same set.

The video and audio quality of the specials is not exactly spectacular, but that can somewhat be expected, as these have remained largely unseen since their original airings. Lucy Gets Lucky looks decent, but Three For Two does not look quite so good, with some significant grain and very dull colors. The audio is rather low on both specials (presented in mono, of course). There are English subtitles for both specials. Each special is unedited, running around 52 minutes each. In fact, Lucy Gets Lucky even has the original sponsor tags from Timex.

As we all know by now, of course, nothing related to Lucy can be released on DVD without a plethora of special features, and of course, we have that on this set! First, we have a short clip (10:51) from Art Linkletter's House Party dated February 24, 1965. On this, we get to see Lucy doing some special sound effects for a fake radio program. Next, we have two segments of a talk radio program that Lucy did in the mid-60s called Let's Talk to Lucy, both featuring Dean Martin as her guest. Basically, these were 10 minute shows where she would interview famous celebrities without playing any character actress herself, but instead simply being Lucille Ball. It is said that she wanted to do this as a change of pace from the ordinary and routine. In "Working With Lucy" (14:40), Gino Conforti (a frequent guest star on Lucille Ball's programs, particularly Here's Lucy) talks about his experiences of working with Lucille Ball. He talks about Here's Lucy, the specials on this set, and even talks about Bungle Abbey, a sitcom pilot about monks living in a monastery, which was directed by Lucille Ball. A series that never materialized from the pilot, of course, but perhaps this will be included as a bonus feature on one of the future Lucille Ball Specials DVDs. Finally, we see that nobody is perfect, as there are bloopers from Lucy Gets Lucky (5:43) featuring Dean Martin. Unfortunately, there are no bloopers featured from Three for Two.

This was a very interesting DVD to watch, and even though one of the specials was not as great as I expected, I still enjoyed watching it. It is interesting to see how much television evolved over a quarter century from the first episode of I Love Lucy on CBS (where Lucy and Ricky slept in separate beds) to where Lucy plays a woman that is cheating on her own husband. Lucy Gets Lucky is very reminiscent of classic Lucy in a more modern era, and I really enjoyed that one. According to an insert that I found on CBS DVD's The Official First Season of The Lucy Show (a full review of that set is coming very soon, Lucy fans!) MPI will be releasing a total of six specials on four releases, with the first two containing two specials each and the last two containing one special each. The most loyal fans of Lucille Ball, of course, are going to love everything on this DVD, but other fans will enjoy this DVD as well.

-- Reviewed by skees53
(4.5/5 stars)

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SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
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Here's Lucy TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

New Girl - The Complete Season Three The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season

Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season Mom - The Complete First Season Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season

09/02 - Benson - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/02 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Halloween Episodes Collection
09/02 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season Nine
09/02 - The League - The Complete Season Five
09/02 - New Girl - The Complete Season Three
09/02 - Soap - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/02 - What's Happening!! - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/09 - The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season
09/11 - Growing Up Fisher - Season One
09/16 - About a Boy - Season One
09/16 - Awkward - Season 3
09/16 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-ray/DVD)
09/16 - South Park - Season 17 (Blu-ray)
09/23 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One
09/23 - How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season / The Complete Series
09/23 - Mama's Family - The Complete Fifth Season / The Complete Collection
09/23 - Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season
09/23 - Mom - The Complete First Season
09/30 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 1 (MPI)
09/30 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season
Other TV Series:
09/02 - Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Tenth Season
09/09 - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
09/16 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Fourteenth Season
09/16 - Castle - The Complete Sixth Season
09/23 - Nashville - The Complete Second Season
09/23 - Scandal - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 1

The Middle - "The Loneliest Locker" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie and Mike scramble to find second jobs in a desperate attempt to afford sending Sue to a good college next year. Sue and Brad strive to do something different and important while writing, directing and starring in the senior play, entitled “The Loneliest Locker,” instead of eating the family out of house and home, Axl literally begins to take the home apart when he removes -- without asking -- as many household items as he can to furnish his and Hutch's new rented house, and Brick drives the family crazy when he finds a box containing all of his noisy and annoying childhood toys -- that were purposely stowed away by Frankie -- and begins playing with them.

The Goldbergs - "Mama Drama" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Adam’s desire to be the lead in the school musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” goes unfulfilled when he’s cast in something other than the leading role. Insistent her son is a star, Beverly casts Adam in a rival show, but when he becomes too self-obsessed for the rest of the cast, Beverly makes a drastic decision. Meanwhile, Murray’s disdain for traffic results in leaving every sporting event early much to Barry’s dismay, including a Flyers game that ends with an unprecedented event. Actor and comedienne Ana Gasteyer guest stars.

Modern Family - "Do Not Push" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
It’s Jay and Gloria’s anniversary and they can’t seem to get on the same page on what kind of gift to give – sentimental or expensive? And, the Dunphys head to Caltech for Alex’s college tour and while Claire is busy convincing her to choose this school and stay close to home, Phil, Luke and Haley branch off to participate in a psyche experiment. Mitch and Cam are taking a new family portrait with Lily to replace the old one above their mantel, but Lily gives some serious face.

black-ish - "The Talk" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre, disappointed that Bow has already given Andre Jr. “the talk” because she thinks he’s too big of a prude to do it, decides to rectify matters by giving his son HIS version of “the talk.” But Dre soon finds himself wishing he’d left well enough alone when Andre Jr. starts to drive him crazy with non-stop questions about sex.

The League - "The Hot Tub" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Kevin and Jenny get a hot tub, Taco shops for a new home, Pete tries to put an end to hand holding.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Shawn" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Though Shawn thought she was looking for a man named Marcus, Todd discovers that Shawn is actually carrying his child.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 29) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, October 1

  • Cristin Milioti (A to Z/How I Met Your Mother) - Watch Cristin on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tim Allen (Last Man Standing/Home Improvement) - Tim stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil continues to make the rounds on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also talks about Gone Girl on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton drops by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Nasim Pedrad (Mulaney) - Tune in to see Nasim on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Tom Lennon (Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Ana Gasteyer (Suburgatory) - Ana visits LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She will also be on The Better Show, so check your local listings.
  • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda chats on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher talks about being crowned the "best butt in primetime" and shares who he still keeps in touch with from SVU on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Entusiasm) - Jeff chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. He will also be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York between 7-10am.
  • James Van Der Beek (Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James dishes with Rach on his new show, CSI: Cyber, and shares an adorable pic of his kids on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Reed Between the Lines/Girlfriends) - Tracee is a guest on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
  • Craig Robinson (The Office) - Craig discusses the USO Comedy Tour on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Kate Walsh (Bad Judge) - Kate will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William discusses his new project Brown Bag Wine Tasting on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.