Sunday, July 05, 2009
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
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New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November/December)
10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series
11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series
11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
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11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Wednesday, October 29
The Middle - "Halloween V" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It's Halloween night, and Frankie and Mike are stunned – and a bit scared -- to learn that Brick has invited a girl over to the house just to hang with him. Meanwhile, to help supplement her college fund, Sue attempts to put together a pumpkin patch screening of the animated classic, “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and Axl reluctantly goes to the library to write a history paper and ironically gets locked inside after staying past closing hours.
The Goldbergs - "Family Takes Care of Beverly" (ABC, 8:30PM
When Pops accidentally starts a fire in his apartment during a Halloween party, he’s evicted and Beverly invites him to move into the Goldbergs’ home. Pops’ wild lifestyle is soon too much for the family to handle and they decide to look into other options. Meanwhile, Barry stops Erica from eating Pop Rocks candy with soda, since according to urban legend, the combination would kill her. Since he “saves” her, Barry wants something in return from Erica.
Modern Family - "Halloween 3: AwesomeLand" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Even though Halloween is Claire’s holiday, she allows Phil to take over this year so instead of her usual fright-fest theme, he decides to turn the house into AwesomeLand! Gloria picks out Princess Fiona and Shrek costumes for her and Jay but Jay decides he wants to be Prince Charming complete with a full head of gorgeous hair, and with the hair comes a new sense of confidence. Elsewhere, Cameron gets overwhelmed by the day’s activities and Mitchell has closing arguments for a huge case, and it doesn’t help that the stenographer is dressed like a spider.
black-ish - "The Prank King" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre fears his holiday fun will be ruined when the older kids balk at the glorious Johnson Halloween tradition of seeing who can pull the most outlandish pranks on each other.
The League - "Taco Standard Time" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Taco takes on the end of Daylight Savings Time. The guys try to help Lane (Zach Woods) during a difficult time. Andre and his cat M'Lady are on the rocks.
Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Please Say Yes" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph tries to come up with a proposal idea for Leslie; he finds himself struggling with the preparation.
Wednesday, October 29
- Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) - Watch Jon on Conan at 11pm on TBS. He will also appear with Ashton Kutcher on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey performs with M. Ward on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Will Arnett (The Millers/Up All Night/Arrested Development) - Will appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa visits Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Michael J. Fox (The Michael J. Fox Show/Spin City/Family Ties and Tracy Pollan (Family Ties) - Michael and Tracy are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. Tracy also joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Justin Long (Mom/Ed) - Justin drops by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
- Tone Bell (Bad Judge) - Tone is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Ashton appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Jennie Garth (Mystery Girls/What I Like About You) - Jennie reveals behind the scenes secrets of 90210, how she became a DIY queen and life post divorce on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
- Sherri Shepherd (Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri stops by The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.
- Tyler Ritter (The McCarthys) - Tyler talks about his new comedy series The McCarthys on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Debra Messing (Will & Grace) - Debra and Rach take on their stickiest challenge yet – a grape-stomping competition - on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Kyra Sedgwick (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Kyra talks about Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) - Soleil will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Fran Drescher (The Nanny/Happily Divorced) - Fran talks about Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Nick Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Nick is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.