HTF REVIEW: I Love Lucy - The Complete Second Season (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Herb Kane, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    I Love Lucy
    The Complete Second Season

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1952-1953
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 799 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Standard TV
    Audio: DD Monaural
    Color/B&W: B&W
    Languages: English & Spanish (on certain episodes)
    Subtitles: Spanish
    MSRP: $69.99
    Package: 5 discs in individual slimcases/cardboard slipcover case.

    The Feature:
    It’s said that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I Love Lucy is playing somewhere around the world. It’s not hard to understand why. Lucy (Lucille Ball) is the wacky but adorable housewife always getting herself in the strangest predicaments, married to her Cuban husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) whose love for Lucy is always unwavering. Their best friends and landlords are the Mertzes. Fred Mertz is a gruff but loveable tightwad (hilariously played by William Frawley) and Ethel, the sometimes ditzy but loyal friend (played by Vivian Vance). Although it’s said that Bea Benaderet and Gale Gordon were Lucy and Desi's first choice to play the Mertzes.

    After a relatively long period in between releases, Paramount is about to release The Second Complete Season of one of the most beloved shows to have ever graced the small screen. The groundbreaking show was responsible for the literally, hundreds of situation comedy shows that would eventually follow in its footsteps, few of which would ever equal its accomplishments. Not only was the show itself legendary, but the Second Season in particular is a standout as it contains perhaps the funniest episode of any TV show produced period; the infamous Job Switching episode where Lucy and Ethel prove their work skills on the chocolate assembly line.

    Not only is that episode a fan favorite, but CBS and its sponsors went where no show yet dared to go. They were about to show (can you believe this..?) a pregnant woman on television. A decision which nearly derailed the season after their hugely popular original season was one of the biggest hits of television thus far and a lot haggling and negotiations were necessary to allow the series to continue and show a pregnant Lucy.

    As a result, the shows sponsor (Philip Morris) as well as the network, reached an agreement which led to the airing of other ground breaking episodes showcasing Lucy’s pregnancy leading up the climactic episode, the birth of young Ricky - an episode that had over 54 million people watching on January 19th, 1953. During the pregnancy period, Desi Arnaz apparently invented the “rerun” episode concept by re-airing some episodes from the first season to give Lucy some rest.

    The series ran from 1951 – 1957 and has been a fan favorite for more than fifty years. Not only were Lucy and Desi exceptionally talented but the gags were brilliantly executed and timed to perfection. But most importantly, the writing which is still impressive to this day, was always rock solid. And as much as I Love Lucy, the show quite simply wouldn’t have been the same were it not for Vance and especially Frawley. His quick witted, dry sarcasm is still among the funniest I have ever seen on television – even to this day.

    The set is comprised of the following 31 episodes:

    Disc One:

    Ep. #1. Job Switching Original Airdate: 9-15-52
    Ep. #2. The Saxophone Original Airdate: 9-22-52
    Ep. #3. The Anniversary Present Original Airdate: 9-29-52
    Ep. #4. The Handcuffs Original Airdate: 10-6-52
    Ep. #5. The Operetta Original Airdate: 10-13-52
    Ep. #6. Vacation From Marriage Original Airdate: 10-27-52
    Ep. #7. The Courtroom Original Airdate: 11-10-52

    Disc Two:

    Ep. #8. Redecorating Original Airdate: 11-24-52
    Ep. #9. Ricky Loses His Voice Original Airdate: 12-1-52
    Ep. #10. Lucy Is Enceinte Original Airdate: 12-8-52
    Ep. #11. Pregnant Women Are Unpredictable Original Airdate: 12-15-52
    Ep. #12. Lucy's Showbiz Swan Song Original Airdate: 12-22-52
    Ep. #13. Lucy Hires an English Tutor Original Airdate: 12-29-52

    Disc Three:

    Ep. #14. Ricky Has Labor Pains Original Airdate: 1-5-53
    Ep. #15. Lucy Becomes a Sculptress Original Airdate: 1-12-53
    Ep. #16. Lucy Goes to the Hospital Original Airdate: 1-19-53
    Ep. #17. Sales Resistance Original Airdate: 1-26-53
    Ep. #18. The Inferiority Complex Original Airdate: 2-2-53
    Ep. #19. The Club Election Original Airdate: 2-16-53

    Disc Four:

    Ep. #20. The Black Eye Original Airdate: 3-9-53
    Ep. #21. Lucy Changes Her Mind Original Airdate: 3-30-53
    Ep. #22. No Children Allowed Original Airdate: 4-20-53
    Ep. #23. Lucy Hires a Maid Original Airdate: 4-27-53
    Ep. #24. The Indian Show Original Airdate: 5-4-53
    Ep. #25. Lucy's Last Birthday Original Airdate: 5-11-53

    Disc Five:

    Ep. #26. The Ricardos Change Apartments Original Airdate: 5-18-53
    Ep. #27. Lucy Is Matchmaker Original Airdate: 5-25-53
    Ep. #28. Lucy Wants New Furniture Original Airdate: 6-1-53
    Ep. #29. The Camping Trip Original Airdate: 6-8-53
    Ep. #30. Ricky And Fred Are TV Fans Original Airdate: 6-22-53
    Ep. #31. Never Do Business With Friends Original Airdate: 6-29-53

    The episodes provided here are not the common shows seen in syndication. These episodes appear in their full length after having been edited in 1958 after CBS ordered them cut to allow more time for commercial advertising.

    Lastly, a few quick words about the packaging. All 5 discs come in individual slimcases which makes for removing specific discs very convenient, rather than performing a balancing act with the foldout digipaks. From someone who has recently entered the world of multi-region discs, I can say that I much prefer these slimcases, not only for boxed sets, but for the space that’s saved from individual titles. I really wish all of the studios would use these. All of the individual cases list the episodes that are contained therein and the original airdates. The special features are also listed on the back of each case – a very nice job.

    The Feature: 5/5

    Absolutely breathtaking. The majority of episodes I’ve seen in syndication are in less than ideal shape so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but in this case I was amazed.

    Shown in its OAR of 1.33:1, blacks quite simply couldn’t be any darker and whites were always clean looking. The levels of contrast and shadow detail were absolutely perfect. The amount of grayscale was also a standout – very impressive.

    Image detail was great. The majority of the set is as sharp as we would ever imagine with only infrequent instances of slight softness or blurriness but overall I was very pleased. The was a slight to moderate amount of fine film grain that was present throughout much of the set, adding a slight feel of grittiness giving the show a definite film-like appearance.

    There were infrequent instances of dust and dirt blemishes as well as a few scratches and jumps, but far less than I would have ever imagined from this 50+ year old TV show.

    The overall image was mostly stable with only a few instances here and there of light shimmer which never became even remotely bothersome. Compression seemed to be handled appropriately although I did notice some slight – very slight haloing during the odd episode but this was negligible at best.

    I really couldn’t be happier with the look of this set. Let me be clear, with whatever I’ve said in the form of criticism, these are really nothing more than observations. I have my doubts as to whether these could ever look any better. In fact, so much so, that I almost feel guilty not giving it 5 stars.

    Video: 4.5/5

    The set is presented in a DD 2.0 monaural track which for the most part does a pretty good job.

    There is a fair amount of hiss that is present, in particular, during the opening and closing credits. Throughout the show itself however, hiss was usually present but only slightly. There were occasional pops and crackles but these were few and far between.

    The tonality of the track was natural just bordering on slightly raw. There was really no dynamic range to speak of and the overall track was wafer thin, but this should be really no surprise considering the limitations of the period.

    Dialogue was usually always clear and intelligible although when things got heated, some of the voices became slightly edgy. Applause and laughter never became overbearing or intrusive. There were several occasional dropouts which were infrequent and very brief and considering the 50+ years, not bad at all.

    Some of the episodes seemed to be mixed at slightly different levels which required a minute adjustment with the remote from time to time, but really, no big deal.

    A generally pleasing track – good job.

    Audio: 3.5/5

    Special Features:
    Lately, a discussion of Paramount and an abundance of special features isn’t necessarily something we’d here in the same sentence - not the case here. This set is loaded with supplemental material starting with:
    [*] The series was partially based on My Favorite Husband, a radio series with a similar storyline in which Lucille Ball had starred for several years. You’ll find five complete episodes of the series spread out throughout the set. They are:

    - Trying To Marry Off Peggy Martin
    - Mrs. Cooper Thinks Liz Is Pregnant
    - Liz And George Handcuffed
    - Liz Changes Her Mind
    - Liz Becomes A Sculptress

    They also list the various airdates as well as the I Love Lucy episode that was produced as a result of the program’s influence.
    [*] Flubs. Contains a healthy collection of mistakes (continuity errors) and flubbed lines that have been included. Each flub is also outlined in text form. This is very well done and includes a number of slow-motion sequences and shots from various angles.
    [*] As discussed above, some of the Lost Scenes that were edited for advertising running time are included here. In this case they have restored that footage and it has been included.
    [*] All of the discs have an area dedicated to the Original Opening Sequences. The valentine heart/satin pillow sequences that we are accustomed to seeing were added at a later date (1958). The stick figure openings have been included.
    [*] Similar to the opening sequences, the Original Animated Sequences, for the original commercial breaks have been included.
    [*] There is also a healthy collection of Production Notes. On each disc there are various episodic facts listed which pertain to the particular disc. Very interesting stuff.
    [*] There is also a list of Script Excepts which is a collection of scenes that were written but never filmed.
    [*] Discs 2, 3 & 5 feature Behind The Scenes Featurettes featuring an excerpt from Jess Oppenheimer’s book. Also included is a behind the scenes slide show which includes about a dozen or so B&W stills. There is a fair amount of trivia and information relating to the show to be found throughout these features.
    [*] Last but not least, there is a comprehensive listing of Guest Cast Information which shows various photos and text info pertaining to the guest stars.

    Unfortunately, these are all intertwined among the various discs, but the features that have been included are amazing. I’m usually pretty harsh on much of the fluff that’s been released recently – not the case here. Bravo.

    Special Features: 5/5

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

    Final Thoughts:
    Over the years, I’ve watched many of these episodes, but watching a number of them consecutively, certainly reinforces how brilliant these performers were, how well written the show was and how hilariously funny it was. Sure, the set has a few weaker episodes here and there, but I was amazed at how funny – how consistently funny, the show was. It’s no wonder Lucy left the kind of mark she did.

    Aside from a presentation that I think, is frankly, as good as we’ll see on this format, the show is complemented with a wonderful assortment of worthwhile special features. And it’s also worth noting that Season Two is about half the price of the Original Season.

    On Tuesday, don’t walk, run… to your local retailer and pick this up – it’s that good. Unfortunately, this review cost me about $100 bucks, because now I just gotta pick up the first season… Let’s hope we see an announcement for Season Three in the near future.

    Overall Rating: 5/5 (not an average)

    Highly Recommended…!!!

    Release Date: August 31st, 2004
  2. Greg Madsen

    Greg Madsen Second Unit

    Jul 30, 2003
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  3. Aaron_H

    Aaron_H Agent

    Sep 11, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Do you think that Paramount will re-release Season 1 someday with similar packaging to Season 2? I really would like to have Season 1 but I don't want to buy that huge boxed set that has 9 amaray cases and takes up a whole bunch of room.
  4. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
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    This seems as good a place as any to ask this. I have long wondered, and long failed to be able to figure out, what the music in The Operetta is from. Does anybody know?
  5. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

    Apr 25, 2002
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    The answer is in the production notes on the DVD.

    All of the operetta songs were written by Eliot Daniel, except for "The Pleasant Peasant Girls," which was written by Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. (who also co-wrote the script with producer Jess Oppenheimer). Daniel's inspiration obviously was the operettas in the grand tradition of Gilbert & Sullivan.

    Daniel also wrote the show's famous theme song, but he wasn't credited during the first season and some second-season episodes, including "The Operetta." He was under exclusive contract to Fox and couldn't have his name attached to the music. He had composed the music as a favor to Oppenheimer, who was an old Coast Guard buddy.
  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Thanks Randy,

    I actually thought they might be from a real operetta, the same way that Gilligan's Island Hamlet was set to Carmen, or that certain Bugs Bunny cartoons were set to Barber of Seville or Wagner's Ring Cycle.
  7. Chris:L

    Chris:L Supporting Actor

    Jan 31, 2004
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    It's odd.. We've waited almost a year between the release of season one and two... and now they're speeding up the production of the DVDs... it doesn't make sense to me.

    One thing they forget to include are the introduction made by Desi Arnaz before they would film an episode in front of the live audience.
  8. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

    Apr 18, 2003
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  9. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

    Mar 9, 2001
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    I would bet they will re-configure the DVD's with more episodes per disc in new packaging, but not until existing supplies are exhausted. New extras will probably be included, as they have done with the "Star Trek: TOS" seasons.

    "I Love Lucy", like "ST:TOS", was one of Paramount's early entries into TV-on-DVD. Season sets were not the norm at the time of their original release.
  10. Greg Madsen

    Greg Madsen Second Unit

    Jul 30, 2003
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    Even though the heart on satin was not the original openeing I prefer it to the cheap looking stick figure opening.
  11. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Apr 23, 2002
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    Great news about the 'slimcase" method..
    the previous release takes up so much room
    and was such a long time coming.

    I'm glad they are going to
    "speed it up a litttttlleeee"
    (line from the JOB SWITCHING candy factory,
    one of my faves).

    If any of you are interested,
    the HERES LUCY "best of" release
    is a first class job,
    put out by SHOUT FACTORY...
    not in the class of I LOVE LUCY,
    but, hey..
    Lucy is still great at any age.
  12. Garysb

    Garysb Screenwriter

    Jul 31, 2003
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    Quote: "One thing they forget to include are the introduction made by Desi Arnaz before they would film an episode in front of the live audience."

    I don't think these were filmed generally and therefore not shown when these shows were orginally broadcast.

    I do remember a clip of Desi doing the audience warm up being shown on the Finding Lucy documentary which was part the the American Masters series that was shown on PBS.
    It was also available on VHS. No dvd yet.
  13. Greg Madsen

    Greg Madsen Second Unit

    Jul 30, 2003
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    There is also a clip on the dvd "I Love Lucy 50th Anniversay Special"
  14. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

    Apr 8, 1999
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    Real Name:
    David Scarpa
    I wish Paramount would use the Lucy and Happy Days and Honeymooners sets as the template for all their TV Releases. All the Trek Series would've been better served by this packaging.

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