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 (February)

The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series The Brady Kids - The Complete Animated Series Girls - The Complete Fourth Season Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - The Complete Series Togetherness - The Complete First Season

02/16 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series
02/16 - The Brady Kids - The Complete Animated Series
02/16 - Girls - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
02/16 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - The Complete Series
02/16 - Togetherness - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, February 10

The Middle - "Film, Friends and Fruit Pies" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
While Frankie and Mike try to figure out which household appliance a piece of plastic belongs to, Brick becomes a tyrannical director when he casts Cindy and Troy to re-enact scenes from “Knots Landing” for a school project; Sue’s excitement over having new friend Lexie become her college dorm roommate quickly sours when she finds herself being charged for half of the new things that Lexie is spontaneously buying for the room; and Axl finds himself becoming stressed out when his boss (Alan Ruck) befriends him and tells him that the fruit pie division is on the verge of being shut down.

The Goldbergs - "Lainey Loves Lionel" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Beverly forbids Adam to see the R-rated movie “Porky’s,” so Murray pushes him to break the rules. But the plan backfires when Beverly forbids Adam to use the phone for Valentine’s Day. As a result, he takes the rule breaking to a whole new level. Meanwhile, Barry tries too hard to impress Lainey for the holiday using the legendary music of Lionel Ritchie.

Modern Family - "Clean for a Day" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Before Claire officially takes over Jay’s closet business, she decides she must get the house in order and make the family clean out the clutter; unfortunately, Phil and Luke can’t bear to part with anything, and Alex digs up old feelings when she finds Sanjay’s sweatshirt. Newly into retirement, Jay decides to get a new hobby – piloting a plane – but the danger puts Cameron into a tailspin of worry. And elsewhere, Gloria wants to connect with Jay more and decides to pick up his favorite game of golf, and ropes Mitchell into teaching her.

black-ish - "Sink or Swim" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After Dre notices that his neighbor Janine has never invited his family to any of her pool parties, he assumes she is racially stereotyping them as a family that doesn’t swim. The kids are shocked to find out that, in fact, Dre doesn’t know how to swim. At work, Dre shares the story with his colleagues, and Daphne Lido is not convinced it’s a race thing, so Dre confronts Janine directly. Meanwhile, Jack and Diane are a part of the Girls’ and Boys’ Rovers Organization, and they envy each other’s activities.

2 Broke Girls - "And the Booth Babes" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Max and Caroline sign up to be “booth babes” in order to get into a huge gaming convention for free. Once inside, they’re shocked to see that Han’s friend has created video game characters based on them, and demand compensation.

Mike & Molly - "The Good Wife" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Molly’s leisure activities between novels become an issue with Mike as he wants her to be the perfect homemaker.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Coachella" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Gabi brings her food truck to an outdoor music festival; miserable Sofia seeks new company.

Baby Daddy - "Reinventing the Wheeler" (Freeform, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben feels it is time to settle down; Danny's sleeping troubles affect his hockey performance.

Younger - "Un-Jaded" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
When their first author proves to be more trouble than she’s worth, Liza and Kelsey worry their imprint might be over before it ever gets started.

Teachers - "Jacob" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Ms. Watson deals with the fact that her ex may have moved on; Ms. Cannon tries to put a stop to teacher cliques.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Being Frank" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
A day in the life of Frank Reynold's as he tries to keep up with the gang's newest scheme.

Man Seeking Woman - "Honey" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Josh tries to prove to Rosa (Rosa Salazar) that he's a better option than her current boyfriend (Fred Armisen).

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 8)

Wednesday, February 10

  • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover) - Catch Zendaya on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Malin Akerman (Sin City Saints/Trophy Wife) - Malin appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory/Blossom) - Mayim drops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jason Mantzoukas (The League) - Jason visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Alison Brie (Community) - Alison appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Debi Mazar (Younger/Entourage/Working) - Debi talks about TV Land's Younger on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Charlie Sheen (Anger Management/Two and a Half Men) - Charlie is back to set the record straight about that experimental HIV treatment he tried and responds to the controversial doctor who told him he was cured on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings. He also opens up about a new, game-changing HIV treatment he’s excited about.
  • Colton Dunn (Superstore) - Colton is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - T.J. talks about Deadpool on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore at 11:30pm on Comedy Central..
  • Fran Drescher (Happily Divorced/Living with Fran/The Nanny) - Fran is a guest on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) - Kim talks about her series Sensitive Skin on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Joe Morton (Grady) - Joe is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.