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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Related links:
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

Sunday, September 21

Bob's Burgers - "Bob and Deliver" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
To Tina's delight, Bob becomes the substitute “Home Ec” teacher at her school and ends up creating a full-scale restaurant in the classroom. However, her excitement is short-lived as Bob's position causes father/daughter friction. But when Gene and Louise go to work for Bob’s “school” restaurant, Linda must fend for herself at the family’s “other” restaurant (aka Bob’s Burgers).

The Simpsons - "What to Expect When Bart's Expecting" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bart can’t stand art class. So he makes a voodoo doll of his art teacher. But when his spell makes her pregnant instead, he becomes a savior to Springfield couples trying to conceive. Then, he’s kidnapped to help conceive a thoroughbred race horse.

The Simpsons - "Pay Pal" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Marge swears off befriending any more couples when Homer offends their charming new British neighbors. But when Lisa declares that she, too, doesn’t need friends, Marge reconsiders.

Family Guy - "The Most Interesting Man in the World" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Peter takes Stewie to the park for some quality father-son time, he mistakenly takes the wrong baby home, prompting Lois to call him an idiot. Determined to prove to her that he’s a responsible adult, Peter goes on a business trip to Chicago and returns as an intelligent, classy person.

Family Guy - "Herpe, the Love Sore" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Brian gives Stewie an STD. Meanwhile, Peter and the guys fight back when another group claims their booth at The Drunken Clam.

American Dad - "Blagsnart, A Love Story" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Fox Finale)
Roger and Francine discover an alien (guest voice Kim Kardashian) in the woods, and Roger capriciously has a one-night relationship with her before being fed up with her quirks. He tries to get rid of her by calling the CIA, but then realizes that he can’t go through with it.

Austin & Ally - "Videos & Villains" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Austin disappears before his performance on ``Video Countdown Live''; the group finds out that Brooke is holding him hostage until he writes her a song.

Liv and Maddie - "Premiere-a-Rooney" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The family is ready to compete against one another in the Wisconsin Cheddar-Brat Fest; Liv's premiere of ``Space Werewolves'' is the same night.

I Didn't Do It - "Logan's Run" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Logan fakes an injury before Lindy's charity jog-a-thon after learning that his friends think he runs awkwardly; Delia gets Brenda fired from Rumble Juice and tries to find her another job.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 15) (All times ET unless noted)

Friday, September 19

  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Watch Michael on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Catch Tina on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory/8 Simple Rules) - Kaley appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Marlon Wayans (The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon is tentatively scheduled to appear on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime between 7-10am.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Rachel Lefevre (Life on a Stick/Big Wolf on Campus) - Rachel will be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Billy Crystal (Soap) - Billy chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Dawn Wells (Gilligan's Island) - Dawn talks about her new book (What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life) on Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel at 8:52am.