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

Tuesday, January 28

The Conners - "Mud Turtles, A Good Steak and One Man in a Tub" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Becky thinks that Jackie’s new friend Dawn (guest star Cheryl Hines), a restaurant supplier, is only cozying up to her to sell them things they can’t afford for the Lunch Box. Darlene is thrilled when Harris gets into Central Illinois State, but Harris might have found a better offer on her own. When Dan finds himself in an embarrassing situation nursing an injury, Louise (Katey Sagal) tries to help him out.

Bless This Mess - "The Letter of the Law" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Rio is bummed she can’t afford to go to Iceland for her best friend’s wedding, so the nuptials are moved and brought to the farm. Meanwhile, Rio is forced to take on Deb’s mail route after she quits, and Mike and Jacob help Rudy get over Constance.

mixed-ish - "True Colors" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Paul is shocked to hear from his estranged mother who wants to visit for Rainbow’s 13th birthday and soon learns more about why she abandoned him. Meanwhile, Rainbow sees turning 13 as a huge turning point in her life and wants a big birthday party, but Alicia wants to celebrate all the things Rainbow missed out on over the years while on the commune.

black-ish - "Adventure to Ventura" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre worries Diane and Jack don’t know how to fend for themselves and sends them out on an adventure, only to realize it’s his overbearing worries that hold the twins back. Meanwhile, Junior gets into a tricky situation at work when he befriends Josh in hopes of scoring a positive peer review.

Schitt's Creek - "Maid of Honour" (Pop, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Moira shares the newly released "Crows" movie trailer with the Jazzagals; Johnny and Roland find a suspicious bag of money at the new motel.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 27)

Tuesday, January 28

  • Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) - Catch Ben on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Ashton visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ilana Glazer (Broad City) - Ilana is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Tony Rock (Living Biblically/All of Us) - Tony is a panelist on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Aidy Bryant (Shrill) - Aidy appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo.
  • Miles Brown (black-ish) - Miles is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris talks about Fox's The Resident on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Wendie Malick (Hot in Cleveland/Hot in Cleveland/Jake in Progress/Just Shoot Me!) - Wendie talks about Disney Channel's The Owl House on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Life) - Nia talks about Poisoned Love on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Bill Pullman (1600 Penn) - Bill talks about The Sinner on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the BUILD Series at 12:15pm.
  • Janeane Garofalo (The Larry Sanders Show) and Grant Rosenmeyer (Oliver Beene) - Janeane and Grant are guests on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One

11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/18 - The Guest Book - Season Two
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (Blu-ray)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season ((Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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