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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New on DVD/Blu-ray (March)

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek) Maude - The Complete Series WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory) The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)

03/03 - CHiPs - The Complete Third Season
03/10 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series
03/10 - Hey Dude - The Complete Series (Walmart Exclusive)
03/10 - Petticoat Junction - Family Favorite Episodes
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 5 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Maude - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Second Season (Shout! Factory)
03/24 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)
03/31 - Silicon Valley - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
03/31 - Veep - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, April 1

The Middle - "Operation Infiltration" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie accompanies Brick on a school field trip and attempts to help her socially inept son make friends with a couple of boys. Meanwhile, when Devin scolds Axl for being mean to his sister, he tries to make it look like they are the best of friends when Sue spends the weekend at his house; and while trying to thin out some of their hoarding father’s massive stockpile of junk, Mike gets a sinking feeling that he may have bullied his brother Rusty (Norm Macdonald) a bit too much as kids and turned him into the hapless man that he is today.

The Goldbergs - "The Adam Bomb" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Erica gets inspired to put college on hold, in favor of pursuing a singing career, Beverly is worried Erica will be disappointed her dream will not come true. Beverly puts Murray up to the task to have a talk about her future with a surprising result. Meanwhile, Adam and Barry get into an epic war that starts as an April Fools’ joke but ends with more repercussion.

Modern Family - "Grill, Interrupted" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay’s birthday brings everyone together and Phil is beside himself over the super cool gift he got Jay, a high-tech outdoor grill. Claire and Mitch decide they will “offer” to pay back the money Jay loaned them ages ago as their gift not really thinking he will take them up on it, and Gloria teaches Manny and Luke a lesson about drinking, while Andy gets real awkward with Haley when she brings over her new doctor boyfriend.

black-ish - "Sex, Lies and Vasectomies" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Bow learns from her colleague that Dre never had the vasectomy a few years back that he was supposedly scheduled, so she decides to see if he’ll come clean and tell the truth.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Cookin'" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Gabi fears for her job when Josh begins dating a woman who loves to cook.

Hot in Cleveland - "All Dolled Up" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Elka is convinced that Bob’s gift to Joy is a voodoo doll. Melanie accidentally doses her boyfriend, Dane (William Baldwin) with estrogen. Victoria gets a visit from her agent (Garry Marshall).

The Soul Man - "Shopping While Black" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
When Lolli is wrongfully accused of shoplifting at a posh department store, Boyce rallies the community for a protest. Stamps turns to Lester to help him get rid of his cupcake truck.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 30) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, April 1

  • Jeremy Piven (Entourage/Ellen) - Watch Jeremy on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. He talks about what it was like to reunite with his Entourage co-stars to make the highly anticipated movie, dating in Hollywood and more on The Merdith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Natasha Leggero (Free Agents) - Natasha is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie) - Peter stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC. He also talks about American Odyssey on VH1's Big Morning Buzz Live at 9am and New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET..
  • Maz Jobrani (Better Off Ted/The Knights of Prosperity) - Maz is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Rob Corddry (The Winner) - Rob visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan) - Brooke appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 1am on BET.
  • Zachary Knighton (Weird Loners/Happy Endings) - Zachary talks about Weird Loners on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Robyn Lively (George & Leo/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Robyn and Sloane Morgan Siegel talk about their critically acclaimed series Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Chris Messina (The Mindy Project) - Chris discusses his directorial debut and starring role in Alex of Venice, a drama about a woman who's forced to revaluate her life and career after her husband suddenly leaves her, on HuffPost Live at 11:30am.