Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day; TV Rebels: Desi Arnaz - More Than Just a Bongo Player

Happy Labor Day everyone! Most of you are probably outdoors spending this last "unofficial" last day of summer with your family & friends, but for those of you who are in needs of some TV marathons...you've come to the right place as usual!
We have mentioned many of these already, but it's a good reminder if you have forgotten! The Golden Girls will get the most play this holiday! Hallmark Channel will air a marathon from 8am-12am, while WE tv will air a marathon also from 1pm-7pm. BET is airing a marathon of The Game all-day today, while TBS goes to The Office this Labor Day from 4pm-8pm.
Other notable marathons are for dramas...Criminal Minds on A&E, NCIS on USA Network, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family. Both TNT and SOAPnet have short stunts of Law & Order and One Tree Hill from 11am-5pm, while The N has what else...Degrassi all-day. And on network TV, ABC has a three episode block of Castle from 8-11pm, as the season premiere is two weeks from tonight. TV Land has a movie marathon from 9am-6:30pm.
Reality wise we have Supernanny on style, 16 and Pregnant on MTV, Cops on G4, Catch 21 on GSN, and Dirty Jobs on Discovery. Hope you all find something!

It's time for the return of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and then last year we got rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so including today's three essays are left. Upcoming TV Rebel columns will be about Rod Serling and TV Dinners. The book is in the works and will be released in 2010...so stay tuned for that and look for a review of the book right here before it comes out!

So without further adieu, we bring you the tenth essay of TV Rebels:

Desi Arnaz: More Than Just a Bongo Player
by Lou Orfanella

In 1950 when CBS was interested in bringing Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband radio program to television Ball demanded that her real life husband Desi Arnaz play her husband. The network turned her down feeling that the viewing public would not accept Arnaz with his heavy accent as her husband. She held out, the network acquiesced and Mr. and Mrs. Desi Arnaz forever became Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in popular culture history.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had been married since 1940. By 1950 she was doing her radio show and periodic big screen projects in a mostly unnoticed film career. Arnaz was travelling the country with his band and their marriage was strained. By insisting they do what would become I Love Lucy together Ball hoped to solidify their domestic life. "Richard Denning, Lucy's radio hubby, comments: 'She said it would help her marriage. Also the show. And, of course, she was right'" (Andrews 22).

Ball was determined that Arnaz not be seen as playing second fiddle to her. The title, I Love Lucy, in fact was an effort to include Desi in the title and indeed since he is the "I" give him top billing. "The general impression seems to be that he was a lucky Cuban who was handsome, charming, played the bongo, and happened to be married to the funniest lady in the whole world. Well, this was all true, but there was a lot more to Desi than that. He may have only been that when he started, but he had an amazing ability for learning things and he was an astute businessman" (Davis 55).

It was Arnaz' business acumen that changed the traditional method of producing situation comedies. Traditionally shows were broadcast live and "preserved" on low quality kinescopes, which were essentially copies made by aiming a movie camera at a television monitor and which were used to broadcast programs outside of the eastern time zone where sponsors were less likely to view them and challenge the quality. When production was set to begin on I Love Lucy for its premier season, Lucy and Desi lived on the west coast and had no intention of moving to New York where the show could be done live for what was then the largest audience, and the sponsors as well. Desi's solution was to film the show like a motion picture resulting in high quality prints. It would be an expensive proposition requiring three or four cameras, special sound and lighting techniques, and potentially multiple sets which would increase the costs. The network only agreed after the Arnazs agreed to a pay cut to help defray the production costs. "The burden of planning this new method fell heavily on Desi's shoulders. No one had attempted a situation comedy on film, shot before a live studio audience: he was plowing virginal fields" (Andrews 32).

Arnaz was not only successful in changing the way sitcoms were filmed and preserved for the lucrative rerun syndication market, but was shrewd enough to acquire an ownership percentage in the series which he and Lucy parlayed into Desilu Production, at one time, the most successful in the business.

Works Cited
Andrews, Bart. "Lucy&Ricky&Fred&Ethel: The Story of I Love Lucy." New York: Dutton, 1976.
Davis, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. "Laughing with Lucy." Cincinnati Emmis, 2005.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, September 17

none scheduled

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 13)

Friday, September 17

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Watch Jennifer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Regina Hall (Black Monday/Granfathered) - Regina appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Cedric the Entertainer (The Neighborhood/The Last O.G./The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric appears on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Justin Long (F Is for Family/Ed) - Justin talks about his new scary funny film Lady of the Manor on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • B.J. Novak (The Office) - B.J. talks about The Premise on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June-September)

Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

06/08 - The Critic - The Complete Series
06/08 - Fuller House - The Fifth and Final Season
06/08 - Fuller House - The Complete Series
06/08 - Our Cartoon President - Season 3
06/15 - The Office - Season 1 (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
06/15 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/07 - No Activity - Season 2
07/13 - The Unicorn - Season 2
07/20 - Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season
07/27 - Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
07/27 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
07/27 - The Neighborhood - Season Three
08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Deluxe Edition (100 Episodes) (Time Life)
08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Standard Edition (50 Episodes) (Time Life)
08/24 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season 2
09/07 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
09/21 - I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

09/16 - Comedy Central Fall 2021: Seinfeld Joins Lineup; Apple TV+ New Comedy Acapulco Premieres Oct. 8
09/15 - Only Murders in the Building Renewed for Season 2; HBO Max's Love Life New Season Starts Oct. 28
09/14 - Columbo 50th Anniversary Marathon on COZI TV; BET+ R-Rated Sitcom Renewed for Season 2
09/13 - Anthony Anderson and Mama Doris Headlining Halloween on Discovery+; The Last O.G. Is Back Oct. 26
09/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 13, 2021)
09/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fox Mulls Future of Animated Comedies; Saturday Night Live Season Premiere Date Set
08/10 - Fri-Yay: A.P. Bio Quietly Continues Its Daring Humor on Peacock; Remembering Producer/Writer Irma Kalish, Michael Constantine of Room 222 and Art Metrano of Joanie Loves Chachi
09/09 - Wheel of Fortune Hosts Extend Contracts; Dancing with the Stars Announces Season 30 Cast
09/08 - Netflix Comedy On My Block's Final Season; Parks and Recreation Podcast Premieres Sept. 14
09/07 - FX on Hulu's Reservation Dogs Renewed; Comet and Stirr Celebrate Star Trek Day
09/06 - TV Marathons on Labor Day 2021
09/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 6, 2021)
09/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Life Goes On Reboot in the Works with Kellie Martin Reprising Original Role; Martha Plimpton Cast in Greg Garcia Comedy
09/03 - Fri-Yay: 30 Rock Returns to Netflix As It Attempts to Build Back Its Library; Did I Do That to the Holidays? A Steve Urkel Story Coming to Cartoon Network
09/02 - Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween Schedule; MeTV Network and Decades Remember Ed Asner
09/01 - The Game Returns Nov. 11 on Paramount+; New Bel-Air Series Announces Casting of Will Character
08/31 - Run the World Gets 2nd Season; Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. Trailer and Guests Revealed
08/30 - Remembering the Legendary Ed Asner of The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Cobra Kai Season 5 Ordered Before Season 4 Premiere
08/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 30, 2021)
08/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Steve Harvey to Become Judge in Unscripted ABC Series; The Goldbergs to Pay Tribute to George Segal
08/27 - Fri-Yay: Apple's Ted Lasso Continues to Impress In Its Second Season; TCA Summer Press Tour: ABC
08/26 - Home Economics Returns with NFL Themed Premiere; New Flintstones Goes from Stone Age to Streaming Age on HBO Max
08/25 - New Baking Series Hosted by Two Comedy All-Stars; Showtime Orders The Wood to Pilot
08/24 - New Adult Swim Comedy Premieres Sept. 19; NBC Taps British Top Comedian for New Comedic Game Show
08/23 - Superstar: John Ritter Airs Wednesday (Aug. 25) on ABC; Two HBO Max Comedies Add More Cast Members
08/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 23, 2021)
08/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Peacock Cancels Punky Brewster Reboot; The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet Arrives on DVD from Time Life
08/20 - Fri-Yay: Brooklyn Nine-Nine Is Addressing Police Misconduct On Its Way Out the Door; Netflix Renews Never Have I Ever for Season 3
08/19 - Lifetime's Highway to Heaven Premieres November 6; COZI TV's Dog Days of Summer on August 21
08/18 - TBS Acquires Young Sheldon for This Fall; Betty White: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life Coming Oct. 26
08/17 - The Price Is Right Celebrates 50th Anniversary; Netflix's New Animated Comedy Series Premieres Oct. 22
08/16 - Grace and Frankie Final Season First 4 Episodes Available Now; What We Do in the Shadows Already Renewed for Season 4