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PianoPlayer

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Even with all of LIFE WITH LUCY's flaws (well addressed on this page), I find it interesting that six of the episodes were directed by Marc Daniels -- the original director of I LOVE LUCY.
 

Emcee

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Life with Lucy is truly one of television's most infamous duds. When TV Guide named the show the 26th worst series of all time in 2002, they said it was "without a doubt, the saddest entry in [its] list of bad TV shows of all time".

If only Lucy had let Aaron Spelling have greater control over the show. He wanted her to play the grandmother of twin babies (an idea he though she'd be "hysterical" at playing) and had promised her the writers from M*A*S*H. But, owing to his lack of experience at producing comedy, Spelling backed up and let Lucy have the show the way she wanted it. The issue was that what Lucy wanted was a style of comedy that had largely fallen out of popular favor, and audiences could already see her doing the same ole routines -- albeit better -- on I Love Lucy, which had been in continuous reruns since the early 1960s.

Life with Lucy died hard and fast. It premiered to solid Nielsen ratings, but the reviews were harsh. Subsequent episodes dropped steadily in viewership, and the show ultimately dropped to 73rd out of 79 network television shows. ABC's decision to cancel the show came after the filming of the final episode, which was never broadcast. Fourteen episodes had been written, thirteen were filmed, but only eight were aired. Lucy was understandably disheartened by the show's cancellation. Spelling has said in interviews that at the wrap party held after the final episode was shot -- and shortly after the show was cancelled -- Lucy just mopped around and wasn't her normal giddy self.

In the decades since, Spelling was often interviewed about working with Lucille Ball as well as the production and eventual failure of Life with Lucy. Like a true pro, Spelling took all the blame for the failure of what would be Lucy's swan song on network television. He insists that Lucy was on-board for whatever type of show he envisioned, but he felt that she, as a pioneer of sitcoms, was better-suited to dictate the direction the show so go. When the show failed, Spelling still took the blame, saying it failed because he hadn't any previous experience with comedy. He also stated, "If you're going to fail at comedy with Lucille Ball, you just don't do comedy."

With saying that, I don't find Life with Lucy as dreadful as some might. Sure, the show is something of a stale relic-reaching sort-of-thing, but I thought it was quite sentimental and even quite good in some spots. The premiere episode was cute, and I enjoyed the "Lucy Makes a Hit with John Ritter" and "Love Among the Two-by-Fours" episodes. In the former, I thought it was nice that Ritter guest-starred as himself, perhaps as a repayment for Lucy endorsing and hosting a retrospective of Three's Company a few years prior. The episode contains some solid physical comedy, both from Lucy, but primarily from Ritter. In the latter, I enjoyed seeing Peter Graves aboard as Lucy's old flame. I found the two to have good chemistry and I enjoyed that the dated physical comedy was drawn back for that episode.

Outside of Lucy and Gale Gordon, most of the main cast was awful. I thought that Donovan Scott, who played Leonard, a worker at the hardware store, to be decent, but the actors playing Lucy and Gale's kids were dreadful. The storylines weren't too bad really. I mean, c'mon, they weren't any more thin or sappy than what other family sitcoms like to push out there, especially for the time period.

My wife bought me the complete series of Life with Lucy for my birthday back in 2019. I binged all the episodes and I enjoyed most of them. Of course, we can't write the show off as a hidden gem, but it was a good time killer for a few days. And I personally just enjoyed knowing I finally had all of Lucy's sitcoms in my collection.

Had Lucy went a different route, I'd like to say she would've succeeded, or at least lasted longer. I seriously doubt she would've ever been on-board with doing something as raunchy as The Golden Girls, but maybe if she had played a widow out in the dating world again, that might've worked. And some of her suitors could've been some of her old pals from her Hollywood days.

But what got is what we got.
 

Wiseguy

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She wasn't the only one. Her color shows also didn't have one important component of I Love Lucy: William Asher as a director. He was doing Bewitched concurrently, and I was shocked to see Uncle Arthur and Serena doing Lucy and Ethel's old candy factory routine in color in their fifth season!
That Bewitched episode may have been an act of desperation. Dick York had already been forced out due to his past injury and they had to continue filming either rewritten episodes or new ones not featuring Darrin. I can just imagine William Asher (who directed "Samantha's Power Failure") thinking back to I Love Lucy and saying that that episode can rewritten for Bewitched.
 

Emcee

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That Bewitched episode may have been an act of desperation. Dick York had already been forced out due to his past injury and they had to continue filming either rewritten episodes or new ones not featuring Darrin. I can just imagine William Asher (who directed "Samantha's Power Failure") thinking back to I Love Lucy and saying that that episode can rewritten for Bewitched.
Bewitched redid a lot of I Love Lucy shows.
 

RobertMG

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That Bewitched episode may have been an act of desperation. Dick York had already been forced out due to his past injury and they had to continue filming either rewritten episodes or new ones not featuring Darrin. I can just imagine William Asher (who directed "Samantha's Power Failure") thinking back to I Love Lucy and saying that that episode can rewritten for Bewitched.
 

Emcee

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Belflower
^^^
Any examples?

Bewitched remade a lot of their own episodes!
Not right off. I remember seeing somewhere online once where someone had drawn the comparisons of the I Love Lucy episodes that Bewitched copied.
 

RobertMG

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According to a great interview with Robert Osborne Lucy just wanted to perform not retire - Bewitched WAS Dick York and Agnes Moorehead - David White was great too had they ended after season 5 the series would have ended on a high standard. York and Mooreheads chemistry was like Booth and DeFore And the last three seasons of Bewitched featured a lot of redo's of earlier scripts White had a rough life he lost his wife just before the series but his infant son lived -but later died in the Pan Am Plane crash in Scotland
 

Wiseguy

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According to a great interview with Robert Osborne Lucy just wanted to perform not retire - Bewitched WAS Dick York and Agnes Moorehead - David White was great too had they ended after season 5 the series would have ended on a high standard. York and Mooreheads chemistry was like Booth and DeFore And the last three seasons of Bewitched featured a lot of redo's of earlier scripts White had a rough life he lost his wife just before the series but his infant son lived -but later died in the Pan Am Plane crash in Scotland
But if it had ended after the fifth, there would have been no Darrin for the last half season* and everyone would have wondered what happened to the character. Also Sam had already announced her pregnancy (in a non-Darrin episode) so people would have wondered what became of the baby.** And you just know there would have been so many comments that they should have at least tried another actor in the part.

*The producers/network cheated by spreading Dick York episodes throughout the remainder of the season, a common practice (Ross Martin in Wild Wild West, 4th season; Lynda Day George in Mission: Impossible, 7th season). Bewitched had even done it before when they saved an Alice Pearce episode for the last episode of the 2nd season after four episodes with her temporary replacement (Mary Grace Canfield of Green Acres) had already aired.

**It's tempting to say Sam was impregnated by two different Dicks but the second pregnancy started during the first actor's run.
 

RobertMG

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But if it had ended after the fifth, there would have been no Darrin for the last half season* and everyone would have wondered what happened to the character. Also Sam had already announced her pregnancy (in a non-Darrin episode) so people would have wondered what became of the baby. And you just know there would have been so many comments that they should have at least tried another actor in the part.

*The producers/network cheated by spreading Dick York episodes throughout the remainder of the season, a common practice (Ross Martin in Wild Wild West, 4th season; Lynda Day George in Mission: Impossible, 7th season). Bewitched had even done it before when they saved an Alice Pearce episode for the last episode of the 2nd season after four episodes with her temporary replacement (Mary Grace Canfield of Green Acres) had already aired.
Good points but after the 5th would have been fine -- look at Dennis the Menace after Joe Kearns passed they tried gale Gordon did great but Kearns was the show
 

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