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 (April)

Barney Miller - The Complete Seventh Season Frasier - The Complete Series What's Happening!! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - Season Seven Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Second Season

04/07 - Barney Miller - The Complete Seventh Season
04/07 - The Brady Bunch - The Complete Series
04/07 - The Crazy Ones - The Complete First Season
04/07 - Frasier - The Complete Series
04/07 - King of the Hill - The Complete 9th Season
04/07 - King of the Hill - The Complete 10th Season
04/07 - 1600 Penn - The Complete Season 1
04/07 - Wanda at Large - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
04/07 - Wilfred - The Complete Season 4
04/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
04/21 - What's Happening!! - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
04/28 - I Love Lucy - I Love Mom Edition
04/28 - The Jeffersons - Season Seven
04/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites: Season 5
04/28 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, April 21

Fresh Off the Boat - "So Chineez" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jessica fears her family has assimilated so much to life in Orlando that they’ve lost their Chinese identity. So she drives everyone nuts making them reconnect with their culture, from Louis, who she insists decline an invite to join the country club, to Eddie, who she makes do a report on China for his World Day project.

New Girl - "Shark" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Winston graduates from the Police Academy, Nick and Coach worry when they see his new training officer (guest star Nasim Pedrad, "Mulaney"). Meanwhile, Jess uses Schmidt to try and influence a councilwoman (guest star Zoe Lister Jones, “Friends with Better Lives”) to stop the night construction taking place outside the loft.

Weird Loners - "Weird Knight" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
As a favor, Caryn reluctantly goes on a date with a nerdy guy from Eric’s human chess league, but becomes interested in him when he doesn’t call her back following their dinner. Meanwhile, Stosh becomes Zara’s “agent” and gets her to enter an art contest.

Undataeable - "A Priest Walks Into a Bar" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Justin (Bren Morin) calls Danny (Chris D'Elia) a loser, Danny is motivated to make a career move to prove him wrong. Meanwhile, Leslie (Bianca Kajlich) persuades Justin to be tough with Danny. Back at the bar, Candace (Bridgit Mendler) tries to help Shelly (Ron Funches) deal with being just a booty-call and never the boyfriend.

One Big Happy - "A Tale of Two Hubbies" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
On a group trip to Las Vegas, Luke (Nick Zano), Prudence (Kelly Brook) and Lizzy (Elisha Cuthberg) visit the chapel where Nick and Prudence got married – only to discover that it was a sham and their marriage is not legal. Lizzy takes it upon herself to plan a spectacular new wedding with a special surprise. However, the group is in for an even bigger surprise about Prudence’s past life in England.

Your Family or Mine - "The Couch" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Ricky plans on throwing out Oliver's childhood couch, but both he and Jason are ready to fight for it. Claire panics when Louis brings home a piece of art that features her in the nude.

Younger - "Girl Code" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
After lending Kelsey a hand in the bathroom, Liza joins Kelsey's inner circle and neglects Maggie at the worst possible time. Diana's excited by the arrival of Empirical's handsome and potentially soon-to-be-divorced publisher.

Mann & Wife - "Mann-datory" (Bounce TV, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Daniel and Michael are forced to attend communication therapy; the kids fight for equal rights of their household chores.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 20) (All times ET unless noted)

Tuesday, April 21

  • Courteney Cox (Cougar Town/Friends) - Catch Courteney on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Betty White (Hot in Cleveland/The Golden Girls/The Mary Tyler Moore Show) - Watch Betty on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff appears on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • John C. McGinley (Ground Floor/Scrubs) - John is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Ana Gasteyer (Suburgatory) - Ana visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Mo'Nique (The Parkers) - Mo'Nique chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement) - Oliver stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Tiffani Thiessen (Saved by the Bell/Saved by the Bell: The College Years) - Tiffani serves up braised tri-tip roast on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) - Edie drops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 1am on BET.
  • David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) - David and David Burtka from the new musical It Shoulda Been You are guests on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Jonathan Kite (2 Broke Girls) - Jonathan cracks the audience up with his celebrity impressions on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Chris D'Elia (Undateable/Whitney) and Brent Morin (Undateable) - Chris and Brent are guests on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Suzanne Somers (Three's Company/She's the Sheriff/Step by Step) - Suzanne reveals the devastating family health crisis that took years to diagnose and the 4 point detox checklist that she says helped save her and her family’s life on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lori Loughlin (Full House) - Lori talks about her two Hallmark Channel projects Garage Sale Mystery: The Deadly Room and the return of her show When Calls the Heart on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings. She will also be on KTLA 5 in Los Angeles live at 9:30am PT.
  • Romeo Miller (Romeo!) - Romeo will be on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:50am.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie can be heard on Sirius XM's Morning Mash Up at 9:30am.
  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick talks about Adult Beginners on SI Now.