HTF REVIEW: "I Love Lucy" Season One: Volumes 1&2 (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 19, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG][​IMG]

    I LOVE LUCY: SEASON ONE, VOLUMES 1 & 2




    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1951
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 106 min/95 min
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (as broadcast)



    If anyone asked you what the greatest television
    program of all time was, you would find it hard
    pressed not to mention I Love Lucy as one
    of the top three. I Love Lucy is considered
    to be the most prestigious, far-reaching and
    beloved program ever created in the history of
    entertainment television. Premiering on the CBS
    network in 1951, it introduced television audiences
    to the whacky redhead Lucille Ball and her Cuban
    nightclub singing husband, Desi Arnaz. The show
    lasted six seasons and 179 episodes, all of which
    have become timeless as they are still shown in
    syndication in dozens of different languages all
    over the world.
    It would seem natural now that the studios are
    turning to television releases on DVD, that
    I Love Lucy be put high on the priority
    list. As a matter of fact, when we spoke to
    Paramount Home Video a year ago they were withholding
    the release of Lucy because they weren't happy
    with the condition of the episodes.
    Starting in July, Paramount is releasing sets
    of I Love Lucy on DVD compilations that
    contain 4 episodes per disc. I think this idea
    works far better than releasing huge season box
    sets, as it gives fans the opportunity to pick
    and choose what episodes they want to buy. What
    makes these sets even more attractive is that the
    price is under $12 for each compilation.
    So, let's take a look at the first two Season
    One releases known as Volume One and
    Volume Two. Combined, they represent the
    first 8 shows of the 39-show season (note I am
    adding the PILOT episode to this number).
    [​IMG]

    Volume One

    Here's how it all started.
    [​IMG]
    Volume One begins with a rare gem -- The
    Lost I Love Lucy pilot which was never made
    available for broadcast. It's a very unique and
    interesting episode for many reasons. First, it
    contains an opening never-before-seen and recently
    reconstructed with the aid of Lucy's original
    announcer, Bob LeMond. As the show begins, a
    backdrop of New York City is shown while a narrator
    introduces Lucy and Ricky. The camera pans across
    the backdrop to a very fake looking model representing
    the Ricardo's apartment. As a hand removes the
    outer wall, the camera pans into the Ricardo
    bedroom where the narrator introduces Ricky and
    Lucy. In this pilot, they are known as Ricky
    and Lucy Lopez and the Mertzes are nowhere to be
    found. You'll note that the set used as the
    apartment is quite primitive compared to the final
    set that was used, You will also laugh at how
    cheesy the set is, most notably when the walls
    shake every time a door is opened or closed.
    Kinescoped on March of 1951, as an audition
    for potential backers, the show was presumed lost
    forever until it resurfaced four decades later.
    Fans of the show will immediately notice that
    the pilot was actually reinvented as The
    Audition (Seen on Volume #2).
    [​IMG]
    The Girls Want To Go To A NightClub
    It's the Mertze's anniversary, but Fred and
    Ricky would rather go to the fights than celebrate.
    This has the wives dressing up as hicks, passing
    themselves off as their husband's blind dates.
    [​IMG]
    Be A Pal
    Fearing that the honeymoon is over, Lucy tries
    to rekindle her marriage thanks to a self-help
    text.
    [​IMG]
    The Diet
    Lucy has to shed twelve pounds in two days to
    qualify for the chorus in Ricky's nightclub act.
    How is the transfer?
    Paramount should lay all their early fears to
    rest. With the exception of the PILOT, all the
    episodes are pristine quality with all the
    blemishes removed resulting in a rather sharp
    black and white picture.
    The condition of the PILOT episode can easily
    be forgiven considering it was originally filmed
    kinescope. The episode doesn't look nearly as
    sharp, and contains scratches in the print.
    The mono audio is also exceptional, providing
    crisp clear clarity that I have never heard from
    broadcast TV. What you notice most is the absence
    of hiss in the audio, as well as less of a "shrill"
    type sound.
    Someone has certainly gone to great lengths to
    clean up these episodes as they look exceptional.
    Special Features
    [​IMG]
    The Main Menu is not overly elaborate, containing
    some nice artwork and a list of the 4 episodes.
    [​IMG]
    Next to each episode is an INDEX button that
    breaks down each episode by scenes. A nice little
    addition is the ability to directly access the song
    numbers which are listed on the far right of the
    Index Menu.
    Note that there are NO SUBTITLES on these discs
    ang hope Paramount will add them to future releases
    for the benefit of the hearing impaired
    [​IMG]
    There is a nice little assortment of Bonus
    Material included on each disc. Let's take
    a look at the Volume One material...
    There are two Flubs that last a few
    seconds each. The first is Ricky hastingly
    removing his wedding ring during a song number.
    The second is a piece of dialogue that did not
    go exactly right on the first take. Really, this
    stuff is just too short to even be worth it.
    [​IMG]
    Guest Cast takes a look at three of the
    guest actors/narrator who appeared on the PILOT
    episode. We learn that Jerry Hausner (Jerry the
    Agent) and Pepito The Clown were both close friends
    of Desi Arnaz.
    It's time for my favorite husband....
    These words were spoken in the radio broadcast
    of My Favorite Husband, the show that
    inspired I Love Lucy. Here we listen to
    an audio sampling of that show.
    There are two short pieces of Special Footage
    that have never been seen before. The first is
    a flashback show that aired when Lucy took time
    off the show to have her baby. The second is a
    restored soundtrack from the very end of "The Girls
    Go To A Nightclub" where canned laughter is
    replaced by the original studio audience and
    orchestra.
    [​IMG]
    We all know how I Love Lucy opens each
    episode with the familiar "heart on satin". Well,
    take a look at how the first three episodes were
    opened when they originally aired on CBS. You
    can't help but laugh at the influence the tobacco
    companies had on television back in the 50's.
    Behind The Scenes contains audio excerpts
    by Series Producer Jess Oppenheimer's book,
    Laughs, Luck...and Lucy. Read by Larry
    Dobkin, this audio piece features a comedy excerpt
    from My Favorite Husband. We find out how
    Lucy went from radio to TV, selling the idea of
    using her husband, Desi, as her co-star. Both
    went on the road to perfect their act before CBS
    booked them for television.
    [​IMG]

    Volume Two

    You'll love Lucy now more than ever
    Volume Two continues with 4 more episodes,
    presented in Air Date order.
    [​IMG]
    Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her
    Lucy's imagination runs amok after reading
    a mystery novel. Lucy is convinced that Ricky
    is trying to poison her.
    [​IMG]
    The Quiz Show
    To qualify for a $1,000 prize, Lucy must
    convince Ricky that she was once married to
    another man.
    [​IMG]
    The Audition
    In an all-out effort to get into Ricky's act,
    Lucy replaces an ailing clown in Ricky's big
    circus number. Fans will notice that this is
    a rework of the original lost pilot episode.
    [​IMG]
    The Seance
    Lucy and Ethel stage a phony seance for the
    benefit of an eccentric producer.
    How is the transfer?
    All the episodes are pristine quality with all
    the blemishes removed resulting in a rather sharp
    black and white picture. You will notice that
    the production values of Lucy Thinks Ricky
    Is Trying To Murder Her
    as it was the first
    episode filmed, and you can see that the overall
    look is a little more primitive than the episodes
    that followed.
    The mono audio is also exceptional, providing
    crisp clear clarity that I have never heard from
    broadcast TV. What you notice most is the absence
    of hiss in the audio, as well as less of a "shrill"
    type sound.
    Special Features
    [​IMG]
    The Main Menu is not overly elaborate, containing
    some nice artwork and a list of the 4 episodes.
    [​IMG]
    Next to each episode is an INDEX button that
    breaks down each episode by scenes. When
    applicable, a nice little addition giving the
    ability to directly access the song numbers are
    listed on the far right of the Index Menu. This
    only happens in one episode, The Audition.
    Note that there are NO SUBTITLES on these discs
    ang hope Paramount will add them to future releases
    for the benefit of the hearing impaired
    [​IMG]
    There is a nice little assortment of Bonus
    Material included on each disc. Let's take
    a look at the Volume Two material...
    Three very short Flubs appear on this DVD.
    The first is Ricky walking so fast across the
    apartment set that for a few seconds, the corner
    camera comes into view. The second is of Ricky
    mixing up two drinks, one with a sedative he is
    supposed to give to Lucy, but ends up giving it
    to himself. The third is of a dog trainer screwing
    up the dog's stage name as Lucy makes Ethel yawn.
    Watch for the red arrows that point you to the
    actual flubs.
    [​IMG]
    Guest Cast gives a short synopsis of
    all the guests that appeared in this compilation
    of episodes, including my favorite, Frank Nelson,
    the "Yessss" man.
    Radio Show #1 and Radio Show #2
    contain audio excerpts from My Favorite
    Husband
    , the show that inspired I Love
    Lucy. The shows you will hear inspired two
    of the shows included in this DVD compilation.
    Special Footage contains an assortment
    of lost and restored scenes as well as scenes
    with restored music or voice. Lost Scene
    #1 is a new opening sequence for Lucy
    Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her
    , not
    seen since 1952. Lost Scene #2 contains
    a new opening sequence not since 1952. There
    is a Restored Scene from The Audition
    where Lucy holds up a pack of the sponsor's
    cigarettes. Restored Music contains
    some of the restored music cues and bridges that
    were lost over the years shown as BEFORE and AFTER
    restoration sequences. A Restored Voice-Over
    is a quick restoration of Bob LeMond announcing
    the show's guest stars over the credits.
    All of these restorations are very short, but
    still somewhat interesting.
    [​IMG]
    Repeated from Volume One, we take a look
    at the show's Original Opening as it it
    was seen during the first three episodes when
    originally aired on CBS.
    Behind The Scenes gives us a rare look
    at the what goes on behind the camera. Pictures
    of the set, the audience area, the script, and
    off-camera poses are presented here. There about
    9 pictures in all, and the control of the playback
    is impossible once you hit the PLAY button.
    Final Thoughts
    What is there to say here? Paramount has
    done a superb job at putting together these
    small compilations of episodes that contain
    enough supplemental material to satisfy fans.
    It is a privilege to finally own a piece
    of television history on a format that not
    only presents this show with amazing clarity
    never before seen, but archives these episodes
    on a format that will never deteriorate in
    quality for future generations to enjoy.
    We can only hope that the studio continues to
    release all 179 episodes (44 DVDs) at a reasonably
    rapid pace.
    No question -- every episode must be owned!
    Release Date: July 2, 2002
     
  2. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    I love this series too much not to get these DVDs, but I really wish Paramount had released season sets. If they keep up this release schedule, we'll still be buying these DVDs in 3 years time. Great review BTW.
     
  3. Jeff Koch

    Jeff Koch Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Ron. I'll be buying the entire series.

    Jeff
     
  4. Kurt N

    Kurt N Stunt Coordinator

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    I had my doubts about these and would have preferred season sets as well, but it looks like they're nicely done. I'll have to get them all, but that's gonna be a lot of shelf space...

    Great review, Ron. You actually got me excited about these.
     
  5. Chris Dugger

    Chris Dugger Supporting Actor

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    Really suprised and upset that this didn't see a season set release.

    Guess these studios don't learn much, do they....?

    I don't understand this release pattern... This is a classic series and deserves the delux box treatment season wise.

    Going the way of the SOUTH PARK release is NOT the way to go.

    Dugger
     
  6. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    Well Ron, with your screen shots of the menus, you have confirmed what everyone had dreaded. This is the Columbia House discs repackaged! The menu designs, layouts, and contents are identical in every way as the CH editions.
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The Big Picture DVD's interview with John Lowry (of Lowry Digital Images) had a mention of LDI doing work for Paramount.

    Does it look like LDI did the restoration of the show, or did Paramount simply do a traditional film restoration?
     
  8. Michael St. Clair

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    MSRP is actually $15, the same as an MGM Classics release and some other vintage releases.

    This is apparently DVD-5, it's a shame they didn't go DVD-9 and include twice as many episodes (and/or do box sets).

    Paramount said after the original Star Trek TV series releases that they should have gone with box sets. Well, this looks to be the same as Star Trek, just $5 cheaper.

    I'll buy the first disc or two for the historical value.
     
  9. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    Hurrah-huroo!

    "Mrs. Ricardo, did you stop this train by pulling that cord?"
    "Well, I didn't do it by dragging my foot!"
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    If it's the same discs as the columbia, then why are the transfers so good? did they use the same menus but remaster the actual episodes???

    Ron is reviewing on a nice HDTV running (I think) 480P from the DVD player so this should be revealing of any flaws in the video. With such high praise given towards the transfers of the episodes it's hard to understand how it could just be a repackaging when the former set was so criticized for image quality.

    -dave
     
  11. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    I thought I read that the format was the same as the CH dvds, but that remastering was done, at the insistance of George Oppenheimer......hmmmm...there was a thread on this somewhere.
     
  12. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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  13. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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  14. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    Ah.....Thanks, Brian W
     
  15. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Ron I sortof disagree, while maybe the nature of I Love Lucy is such that fans may wany individual eps versus Box sets, the decision to put 4 measley eps on the disk versus 8 or 10 is ludicrous. If I want to collect the Entire run it'll take 44 disks of shelf space. Yikes that almost rival The Original Trek Series (Another bad Idea) in amount.
    Meanwhile The Next Generation takes 7 Extra Wide spots.

    Maybe individual disks is the key, but give us at least 8 eps you stingy guys
     
  16. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    If there is any real complaining on these two releases about the quality of the video, from what I've seen so far I believe it will be about the "lost pilot episode". An I don't think it can be much better without using DVNR.
     
  17. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Look, I understand how you guys feel,
    as I am a big fan of season sets.

    However, I can truly understand why Paramount
    chose not to do this with Lucy.

    I think the studio probably felt that
    Lucy appeals to a much larger audience
    than STAR TREK does.

    I think they wanted to give the opportunity
    for fans to pick and choose favorite episodes
    at $11 a disc rather than making fans buy an
    expensive box set.

    I don't have the math in front of me as to
    which would have cost less in the long run,
    but perhaps Paramount felt this would be the
    best way to handle almost 180 episodes while
    giving the public a better choice of what
    episodes they wanted.

    For Lucy, I am not bothered by this. If
    I wasn't getting screeners, I'd still buy
    them all in season box or not.
     
  18. James_Garner

    James_Garner Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,
    Does each individal episode start with sponsor's credits or the "Heart on Satin" credits?
    Thanks
     
  19. Jorge Montes

    Jorge Montes Stunt Coordinator

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    So wait, can we assume then that all SUBSEQUENT episodes will be remastered?
     
  20. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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