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

Wednesday, November 13

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Paddy's Has a Jumper" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Trapped inside Paddy's with a suicidal jumper on the roof, the gang wonders if it should bother intervening.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 11)

Wednesday, November 13

  • Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) - Watch Ray on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC. He will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Tim Robbins (The Brink) - Tim visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Beth Behrs (The Neighborhood/2 Broke Girls) - Beth is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program) - Brian is a panelist on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Jenny Slate (Married/Parks and Recreation/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Marla Gibbs (227/The Jeffersons) - Marla chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Brian Stokes Mitchell (Fam) - Brian talks about 54 Below on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.


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

My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season

09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
09/19 - The Guest Book - Season 1
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
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)
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

11/13 - 2019 A Very Merry MeTV Lineup; Ricky Gervais Returns to Host Golden Globe Awards
11/12 - CBS Midseason 2020 Plans Include FBI Spin-off; E! Brings Back The Soup
11/11 - NBC Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Announces Midseason 2020 Lineup
11/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 11, 2019)
11/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fresh Off the Boat Coming to an End; Weeds Sequel in the Works
11/08 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on Netflix's Living with Yourself; ABC Orders More Episodes of American Housewife and Bless This Mess
11/07 - COZI TV's Thanksgiving Weekend Unexpected Guests Marathon; MeTV Salutes Veteran's Day with M*A*S*H
11/06 - Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family & Good Times on Dec. 18; NBC Orders More Superstore Episodes
11/05 - ABC 2019 Holiday Specials and Episodes; E! Sets Date for Reality Sitcom
11/04 - Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas Schedule for 2019; Showtime to Debut New Comedy On-Demand Before Premiere
11/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 4, 2019)
11/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Casting in Place for Punky Brewster Reboot; Happy Days Cartoon Spinoffs to Arrive on DVD

11/01 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on BoJack Horseman Season 6; Netflix Sets Dec. 5 Date for V Wars
10/31 - Will Arnett to Host Fox Lego Series; Lil Rel HBO Comedy Special Gets Premiere Date
10/30 - HBO Max Announces Lots of News and Series, Including Library Series The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Looney Tunes and More
10/29 - ABC Gets Full Seasons of mixed-ish and More; The Facts of Life Stars Ready to Light Up Lifetime on Christmas
10/28 - Fox Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Picks Up Full Seasons of Both Fall Freshman Series

10/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 28, 2019)
10/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Lizzie McGuire Reboot to Include Original Cast; New DVDs for The Mindy Project and Step by Step
10/25 - Fri-Yay: Sunnyside Becomes the Season's First Cancellation; Maureen McCormick to Co-Host HGTV Christmas Special
10/24 - Antenna TV's Sabrina & Samantha Witch-O-Ween Marathon; Remembering TV Producer Al Burton of Diff'rent Strokes, Charles in Charge and More
10/23 - CBS Renews Freshman Fall 2019 Class; Fox Schedules 9-1-1 Spin-off for Midseason 2020
10/22 - Fox Schedules Comedy Christmas Event; CNBC Gets A-Rod to Get Celebs Back in the Game
10/21 - Fox Picks Up 2nd Season of Bless the Harts; Remembering Bill Macy of Maude
10/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 21, 2019)
10/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Sunnyside Becomes First Casualty of 2019-2020 TV Season; Our Miss Brooks Arrives on DVD
10/18 - Fri-Yay: Is It Time to Lower Our Expectations for Sitcom Ratings?; Antenna TV's Dennis the Menace Thanksgiving Weekend Marathon
10/17 - Raven's Home Gets 4th Season on Disney; Nick Orders More All That Episodes
10/16 - Sunnyside Pulled, Will & Grace Back Early; CBS All Access Comedy Returns for Season 3
10/15 - Sarah Silverman Returning to HBO with Late Night Series; Craig Ferguson to Host ABC Game Show
10/14 - ABC Gears Up for Halloween with Specials and Sitcom Episodes; truTV Comedy Returns for Season 5
10/13 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 14, 2019)