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, December 2

Lopez vs. Lopez - "Lopez vs Birthdays" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
On Chance's birthday, George throws a party, and Rosie's sisters throw shade.

Young Rock - "Night of the Chi-Chi's" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Bethlehem, 1988: Teenage Dwayne is locked in a restaurant overnight with his father when Rocky agrees to deep clean the space; in 2033, Dwayne feels nostalgia for a vintage arcade game he finds far from home.

The Villains of Valley View "How the Villains Stole Christmas" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Set in the past, Onyx issues an annual ruin-Christmas challenge, but they get more than they bargained for.

Bunk'd: Learning the Ropes " Hauntin' Around the Christmas Tree" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
While planning an over-the-top Christmas bash, Parker encounters several ghostly visitors who teach him the true meaning of the holiday.

Raven's Home - "A Country Cousin Christmas" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Alice's mom begins to regret spending the holiday away from her; but when the country cousins surprise the Baxters for the holidays, Raven stuggles to keep her Christmas cheer.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 28)

Friday, December 2

  • Kristen Bell (Central Park/The Good Place) - Watch Kristen on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Marlon Wayans (Marlon/The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Marc Maron (GLOW/Maron) - Marc appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • James Marsden (Dead to Me/30 Rock) - James is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • ReneĆ© Rapp (The Sex Lives of College Girls) - ReneĆ© will be on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - NBC's Today catches up with Ellie in the 9am hour.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan/Kenan & Kel) - Kenan talks about the People's Choice Awards on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Rev Run (All About the Washingtons) - Rev Run talks about Disney+'s The Hip Hop Nutcracker on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.


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

Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Young Rock - Season Two (DVD) The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Seven Ghosts - Season One

09/06 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/20 - Kim's Convenience - The Complete Series
09/27 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five / The Complete Season Six
10/04 - Mr. Mayor - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
10/04 - The Munsters - Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast
10/18 - Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season
11/08 - Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/08 - Young Rock - Season Two (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/15 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Seven / The Complete Season Eight
11/22 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/29 - Ghosts - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

12/01 - Apple TV+ Announces Premiere Date for Shrinking; Disney Producing Animated Sitcom
11/30 - That '90s Show Premieres Jan. 19; The CW Midseason 2023 Schedule
11/29 - Master Minds Returns Jan. 9 on Game Show Network; Remembering Sons & Daughters Co-Creator Nick Holly, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Ron Masak and Others We Recently Lost
11/28 - The Game Revival Season 2 Trailer, Premieres Dec. 15; Reno 911! Holiday Movie on Comedy Central
11/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 28, 2022)
11/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Kelsey Grammer Explains Why David Hyde Pierce Won't Return to Frasier Reboot; NBC to End Year with Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton
11/25 - George Lopez Reunion on Lopez vs. Lopez on Dec. 16; Marc Maron Gets HBO Comedy Special
11/24 - 2022 Thanksgiving TV Marathons on TV This Holiday Weekend Include Soap Every Episode Marathon
11/23 - Fran Drescher Hosts The Nanny Marathon on COZI TV; Fox Gets Celebs for TMZ Christmas Special
11/22 - NBC Schedules New Game Show During Holidays; Peacock Teams Up with Comedian Sean Patton
11/21 - Letterkenny Returns for Season 11 on Hulu; The White Lotus Season 3 Ordered
11/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 21, 2022)
11/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Vicki Lawrence to Guest Star in Call Me Kat; Grey's Anatomy Gets a Little Less Grey
11/18 - Bounce Orders New Sitcom for Spring 2023; Remembering Hogan's Heroes Star Robert Clary, The Bob Newhart Show and Taxi Co-Creator David Davis, and Head of the Class Co-Creator Richard Eustis
11/17 - MeTV's A Very Merry MeTV Schedule; HBO Max's Sort Of Returns Dec. 1
11/16 - Comedic Stars Line Up for Baking It Holiday Special; Atsuko Okatsuka Gets First HBO Special
11/15 - CBS Midseason 2023 Schedule; Oprah Interviews Abbott Elementary Megastar
11/14 - Netflix Books Sebastian Maniscalco Comedy Special; Hallmark Channel Signs Hunter King for Movies
11/13 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 14, 2022)
11/12 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Midseason Premiere Dates Set for Reboots of 80s Classics; Abbott Elementary Still Strong in Ratings
11/11 - Chris Rock Live Comedy Special Set for Netflix; Hulu Renews This Fool for Season 2
11/10 - Fox Orders New Animated Comedy for 2024; Netflix Picks Up Reggaeton Comedy Neon
11/09 - NBC Midseason 2023 Schedule; Apple TV+ Renews Bad Sisters for Season 2
11/08 - ABC Midseason 2023 Schedule; Fox 2023 Midseason Schedule
11/07 - Showtime and Paramount Network Set Simultaneous Premiere; Jeff Dunham's New Comedy Central Special
11/06 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 7, 2022)
11/05 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Pluto TV Adding 6,300 Episodes from CBS Vault; Tuca & Bertie Cancelled
11/04 - Freeform Announces Premiere Dates for Winter; ABC Broadcasts Special Airing of Reasonable Doubt
11/03 - Final Season of Dead to Me Drops Nov. 17; Lil Rel's 2nd HBO Special Premieres Nov. 12
11/02 - Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas 2022 Schedule; ABC Orders Prank Series
11/01 - Fox Lines Up 2 Dramas for Midseason; The White Lotus Scores in Early Viewing