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The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show

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The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show

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The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
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Format Situation comedy
Created by Jess Oppenheimer
Madelyn Davis
Bob Carroll, Jr.
Written by Madelyn Davis
Bob Carroll, Jr.
Bob Schiller
Bob Weiskopf
Directed by Jerry Thorpe
Desi Arnaz
Starring Lucille Ball
Desi Arnaz
Vivian Vance
William Frawley
Richard Keith
Composer(s) Wilbur Hatch
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Desi Arnaz
Producer(s) Bert Granet
Running time 60 minutes
Production companies Desilu Productions
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run November 6, 1957 (1957-11-06) – April 1, 1960 (1960-04-01)
Chronology
Preceded by I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
Followed by The Lucy Show

The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour is a collection of thirteen one-hour specials airing occasionally from 1957 to 1960 (as opposed to a thirty-minute regular series), and originally served as part of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. Its original network title was The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the first season, and The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Presents The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the following seasons. It was the successor to the classic comedy, I Love Lucy, and featured the same major cast members. The production schedule avoided the grind of a regular weekly series.[1]

Desilu produced the show, which was mostly filmed at their Los Angeles studios with occasional on-location shoots at Lake Arrowhead, Las Vegas and Sun Valley, Idaho. CBS reran the show under the "Lucy-Desi" title during the summers of 1962-1967, after which it went into syndication.

Description and evaluation

During the final season of I Love Lucy (episode 14), the Ricardos, soon followed by the Mertzes moved to Westport, Connecticut, reflecting the growth of the suburbs throughout America during the 1950s. Ricky commuted into New York City where he now owned The Babalu Club. A key part of the program's format was guest stars in each episode, including Ann Sothern; Rudy Vallee; Tallulah Bankhead; Fred MacMurray and June Haver; Betty Grable and Harry James; Fernando Lamas; Maurice Chevalier; Danny Thomas and his Make Room for Daddy co-stars; Red Skelton; Paul Douglas; Ida Lupino and Howard Duff; Milton Berle; Robert Cummings; and, in the final episode, "Lucy Meets the Moustache", Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams.

Comedy Hour episodes focused on Lucy's interaction with the celebrity guest stars. Although still a key character, Ricky isn't a major part (of the episodes) and has less interaction with Lucy. Nearly every episode features his not allowing her to do something, which allows Lucy to interact with the guest stars to confound Ricky. Ricky's 'manic' personality has changed as well, and by the last episode (filmed in April 1960) is more subtle, almost depressed and he appears tired. His contributions are generally low-key (with the exception of the 'Berle' episode). Fred and Ethel are featured in fewer plot themes after the move to Connecticut, although Ethel does contribute to helping Lucy carry out her schemes. Although noted in "I Love Lucy" as the main reason they were able to afford moving to Connecticut, the joint Ricardo-Mertz egg business is never mentioned. Fred assumes his role as Ricky's band manager. Each episode stands alone and the program has no continuity. New friends from the I Love Lucy Connecticut episodes, the Ramsey's (or the Morton's), were not in the Comedy Hour cast and are only mentioned 2 times in it, each as baby-sitters for Little Ricky. Besides the Mertzes the only character from the I Love Lucy show to appear on the Comedy Hour was Lucy's mother (who appeared briefly in episode 12 (the 'Japan' episode)) as Little Ricky's babysitter. Little Ricky is used more but is still a minor character. Most feature him playing the drums, coming and going (examples include The Celebrity Next Door and, in several, off to school or some other function) and has no friends, unlike the 6th season of I Love Lucy, where a few are noted (Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright, Little Ricky Learns to Play the Drums, several of the Connecticut episodes, ect.) and no plot theme centers on him. Also the Ricardo's do not interact with any neighbors in Westport (the Celebrity Next Door is the exception, although Bankhead appears in only that episode and features Lucy's only work with the PTA) and the town, a major plot theme in season 6 of ILL is hardly mentioned except in passing.

Comedy Hour episodes were one hour. Production costs estimated to be $340,000 per episode. Arnaz had originally proposed to run 10 episodes (one per month) but the high production costs forced Desilu to taper this to 5 episodes each in the 1957-1958, 1958-1959 seasons and only 3 in the final season (1959-1960). Arnaz had signed actress Debbie Reynolds to appear in a season 4 episode to be broadcast in January, 1961 and had been preparing to produce 3 specials for the 1960-1961 season. As noted in several histories Ball & Arnaz divorced in May, 1960. After the final Lucy-Desi program the two never worked together again, although Arnaz executive produced the first 15 of The Lucy Show episodes before leaving Desilu Productions in 1962.

For the 1957–58 and the 1958–59 seasons of The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, the ratings were very good. However, by the start of the 1959–60 season, with the habit of viewing Lucy broken up every few months, being broadcast on different nights as well as the obvious tension revealed between Ball and Arnaz (due to their real-life marriage unraveling), viewers of the specials dropped and it was no longer a major hit in the ratings. Critics commented on the lackluster quality and poor scripts. The casts performances were also panned. The interaction between Ricky and Lucy, a major element of the original programs success, was not up to par (reflecting Ball and Arnaz' personal problems). Because of their personal problems (and Desi spending more time trying to maintain the Desilu "empire"), the live studio audience was replaced with a laugh track by the final season (although both comedian Milton Berle and writer Bob Schiller stated in The Lucy Book by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman that for the ninth season premiere show, "Milton Hides Out at The Ricardos", a live audience was brought in for some of the scenes to give a sense of timing). In the penultimate episode of the series, titled "The Ricardos Go to Japan", Lucy appeared on screen red-eyed due to her crying during the arguments between herself and Desi (although not seen on-camera due to the show being filmed in black and white).

In the making of the last episode, Ball and Arnaz did not speak directly to each other except when their characters were required to do so. The series filmed its final episode on March 2, 1960 and divorce proceedings started the next day. In the final episode, Edie Adams chose to sing "That's All", later commenting that she personally chose the song, unaware of the magnitude of the Ball-Arnaz marital woes or the pending divorce, and Ball's look of anguish and sadness was obvious in the finished airing of the episode. Adams stated that the mood on set was tense and sad. And, although it had not been publicly announced, most of the cast and crew knew it would be the program's last episode.[2] This could also be why the program did not have a unique final episode.

Critics have generally regarded the series as a rather pallid continuation of I Love Lucy, with not enough of the original show's brisk pace and memorable sketch-work, and an excessive use of celebrity guest-stars. Still, many fans enjoy the series because of the cast, which remained intact from the original. The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour is occasionally seen on nostalgia outlets like TV Land in its original hour-long format, or in edited thirty-minute installments (beginning in 1987) under the title We Love Lucy, where stations ran it directly after the sixth season of I Love Lucy. This allows them to have twenty-six additional "episodes" that run like a seventh season. Since The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour had only thirteen episodes spread over three seasons, all thirteen episodes were released in one DVD box collection. Me-TV carried the program in its original one hour format during the summer of 2012.

The show is briefly memorialized in the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, New York.

Cast

Actor/Character
Lucille Ball Lucy Ricardo
Desi Arnaz Ricky Ricardo
Vivian Vance Ethel Mertz
William Frawley Fred Mertz
Keith Thibodeaux credited as "Little Ricky" Little Ricky Ricardo, Jr.

Episodes

DVD release

CBS DVD released the entire series on DVD on March 13, 2007 in Region 1.[3]

Notes

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • TV.com
  • at TVLand.com
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