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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The Middle - "Vacation Days" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After being forced by his work to take a paid vacation, Mike tries to relax but finds his alone time being invaded by Brick, who wants to cash in and implement all of the personal gift coupons he has given his dad for Father's Day and birthdays over the years. Meanwhile, Frankie is livid when she discovers that Axl has been hanging out at the Donahues for the past few days and didn't let her know that he was even in town, and Sue is horrified when she discovers that someone has given her service at Spudsy Malone’s a bad review online and overreacts in her efforts to better please the customers.
Suburgatory - "Blame it on the Rainstick" (ABC, 8:30PM/ET) (Repeat)
When Noah is released from a court mandated anger management program, George is shocked to find a docile Noah has replaced his former hot-headed friend. Shaken by the change, George decides to put the new Noah to the test. Meanwhile, Tessa ditches “senior tanning” and meets a cool new age band hanging out at the park. The free spirited music group isn’t exactly what they appear.
Modern Family - "The Big Game" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With a big football game coming up and a record to break, Coach Cam is intensely focused and showing no mercy even when the opposing team is playing with an unexpected disadvantage. Elsewhere, Claire is determined to prove to the staff that she is more than just the boss’s daughter, and Phil tries to teach his kids a lesson about optimism, but the universe just isn’t cooperating.
Mixology - "Jessica & Ron" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jessica regrets sending a naked photo to Ron and sets out to get him to delete it after realizing she barely knows him. Meanwhile, Liv complicates things between Jessica and Ron and Maya hits it off with an attractive guy who gives her an offer she can’t refuse…or can she? And the chance to hook up is in Bruce’s favor when he meets a woman who is into red-heads, but things quickly begin to look grim when a famous red-head also enters the bar.
Melissa & Joey - "Born to Run" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel's father sends out a racy photograph; Ryder tries to come up with a winning business idea.
Baby Daddy - "Play It Again, Bonnie" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Bonnie asks Tucker for help in reconnecting with her former boyfriend.
Hot in Cleveland - "The Undead" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Elka (Betty White) throws a fake funeral for Victoria so she can join her husband in hiding. Her nemesis, Susan Lucci attends. Simon (Craig Ferguson) and Joy face a dilemma in their relationship.
Guest Stars: Craig Ferguson, Susan Lucci, Matt Iseman, David Cheaney, Laird MacIntosh
The Soul Man - "Oh My Goddy" (TV Land, 11:00PM ET/PT)
Boyce feels the pressure when he's nominated for a big award. So he goes above and beyond to brand himself as the "Second Chance Preacher."
Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Reunited" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph and Leslie work on their relationship.
Wednesday, April 16
- Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) - Watch Kunal on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
- Denis Leary (The Job) - Denis appears on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
- Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
- Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Tracy visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam appears on The Pete Holmes Show at midnight on TBS.
- Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi previews her new Lifetime movie A Day Late and a Dollar Short on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
- Billy Crystal (Soap) - Billy stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin talks about new animated movie Rio 2 and her upcoming show at Carnegie Hall on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
- Alan Thicke (Growing Pains) - Alan talks about his TV and music career, his son Robin and new reality series, Unusually Thicke, on Katie, so check your local listings. He will also be on The Couch on WLNY 10/55 in New York between 7-9am. Finally, he is a guest on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 10am.
- Judy Greer (Mad Love/Arrested Development/Miss Guided) - Judy takes us on a trip to her happy place...the drugstore on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Tasha Smith (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse/The Tom Show/Boston Common) and Michael Jai White (Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse) - Tasha and Jai are guests on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Marlon Wayans (The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS. He will also be on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
- Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher is a guest on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. He will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Valerie Harper (Rhoda/The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Valerie) - Valerie talks about Signed, Sealed, Delivered (premieres April 20 on Hallmark Channel) on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. She is a guest on Howard Stern.
- Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl/I Hate My Teenage Daughter) - Jaime appears on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- Seth Green (Dads/Greg the Bunny) - Seth is a guest on a repeat of @midnight at 12am on Comedy Central.