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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Bob's Burgers - "The Frond Files" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT)
Bob and Linda visit school and learn that their kids' essays about their fantasy version of Wagstaff are "too creative" and "offensive." Eugene transforms the school into a "Fart School for the Gifted" (watch out for Keyboard Jail); Tina, to her delight, depicts a world where she is romanced by countless zombie teenage boys; and Louise creates a school where she takes down a robotic Mr. Frond from the future ("We need more creamed corn!").
The Simpsons - "Diggs" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Bart is rescued from a confrontation with Springfield Elementary's bullies by Diggs (guest voice Daniel Radcliffe), a recent transfer student and aspiring champion in the niche sport of falconry. But, Bart soon discovers that Diggs wants to do more than just wrangle falcons: he wants to take to the sky himself.
The Simpsons - "The Man Who Grew Too Much" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
On a research trip, Lisa is shocked to discover that Sideshow Bob is now the chief scientist at a massive chemical engineering company, but her fears are allayed as she becomes enamored with his likeminded appreciation of high-culture. Meanwhile, Marge's attempt to preach healthy sexual practices to a teen church group goes awry.
Family Guy - "Mom's the Word" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Peter's mother passes away, he forms a special friendship with her longtime pal, Evelyn (guest voice Lauren Bacall), who attempts to seduce Peter. Meanwhile, Stewie is distraught when he understands the reality of death for the first time.
Liv and Maddie - "Slump-A-Rooney" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Maddie and Willow are excited to try out for the school's varsity softball team but Willow is in a slump and Maddie figures out why.
I Didn't Do It - "If It Takes Like a Brussels Sprout" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jasmine and Logan invent a spray that makes vegetables taste even more delicious.
Austin & Ally - "Cupids & Cuties" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Trish is nervous about an upcoming visit from a boy she has a crush on and acts strangely when he takes her on a date.
Monday, March 10
- Steve Harvey (The Steve Harvey Show) - Watch Steve on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Andy appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Busy Philipps (Cougar Town) - Busy visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Minnie Driver (About a Boy) - Minnie is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
- Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Weeds) - Kevin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Nia Long (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Zulay Henao (Love Thy Neighbor), Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs) - The cast of The Single Moms Club are guests on The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
- Paul Scheer (The League) - Paul appears on The Pete Holmes Show at midnight on TBS.
- Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) - Ray appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Krysten Ritter (Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - Krysten talks about her new movie Veronica Mars on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
- Jennie Garth (What I Like About You) - Jennie joins Clinton Kelly and prepares a savory layered dish with mushrooms and polenta and discusses her new book (Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde) on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey and Troy Gentile (The Goldbergs) - Wendi and Troy will be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings. Wendi will also be on The Better Show, so check your local listings.
- Chris Lowell (Enlisted) - Chris talks about the new Veronica Mars movie on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Jenna Elfman (Growing Up Fisher/1600 Penn/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- The Cast of Mixology - The cast of Mixology will be guests on Pop Sugar on TV Guide Network at 6pm and on the next day on their website at noon.
- Jason Ritter (The Class) - Jason appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.