Lucille Ball, the Post-I Love Lucy Thread

KPmusmag

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There was one episode of Life with Lucy called "Lucy Among the Two-by-Fours" that I thought had a glimmer of a good show in it. Lucy dates a man (Peter Graves) for the fist time since becoming a widow, and she and the daughter have a heart to heart conversation about life. Lucy and her date also have a thoughtful conversation. The episode ends with a sight gag, but not as extreme as others in the series, which gave just a little "Lucy" button to the end without overdoing it.

I think the show might have been better if they had more of those personal moments, if it had been more of a family comedy, with humor coming from generational issues, ageing, adjusting to changes and the like, rather than from the "zany redhead" premise.

There was another episode where Lucy and Gale Gordon are stuck in a treehouse, and they have a nice conversation, again a moment that made me wish it had been more of a family comedy.
 

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As I recall, the Peter Graves episode was far and away the best one in the series. I gave my review copy to a devoted Lucy friend of mine, so I don't have it here to watch again, but I do remember it fondly (especially compared to the other mostly weak, strained-for-comedy episodes).
 
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Garysb

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Actually, the Countess did visit Lucy in California a couple of times. In fact, my favorite episode with her is a CA show and features William Frawley’s final TV appearance, which is sweet and sad at the same time.
Yes sweet but they have no dialogue together.

 

Larry.P

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The only one I liked was the one with Tallulah Bankhead . Sadly that is the one episode that is only available edited though 16 MM film exists of the missing footage .
Just an FYI - In the early planning of bringing the Lucy hours to blu ray, the "Lucy team" did an extensive search of the vaults and did find this footage on 35mm. Unfortunately, CBS decided they wanted to start with "I Love Lucy" season 1 and we know how that turned out. The full show did make its way to the TimeLife "Ultimate Lucy" collection if you care to splurge for it.
 

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Mr. Barnsthal (Lane) was great. Lane specialized in playing crabby characters and wasn't overused, unlike Gale Gordon's Mooney. Unfortunately, Lane had trouble remembering his lines, which was a big problem since The Lucy Show was filmed in front of a live audience. Fortunately for him, shortly after he departed he found steady work playing the nefarious Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction (which was not filmed in front of an audience).
Yeah, Lucy really liked Charles Lane, but I've read he was only used on THE LUCY SHOW because Gale Gordon was unavailable when the show started. Once Gale Gordon was free, Charles Lane was out. I'm sure it also helped that Charles Lane had near-paralyzing stage fright and a terrible time of flubbing his lines while filming. He did better with single camera shows. He left THE LUCY SHOW and ended up have a running role on PETTICOAT JUNCTION as Homer Bedloe, the stick-in-the-mud that popped up occasionally to do his best to get the Hooterville Cannonball closed down.
 

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Some reference books such as The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh link the two series together as if they were the same series. If you look up Here's Lucy, it reads "see The Lucy Show" and the cast list and time slots for all twelve years are listed there. I prefer to think of them as two separate series but I can see how some confusion can result with both series featuring Ball, Gordon and Mary Jane Croft. Never really thought about it before but it appears Croft's character was always "Mary Jane Lewis" in both series.

The book also states "The program was initially titled The Lucille Ball Show when it went on the air in 1962, shortened to The Lucy Show after only one month..." Not saying they're right (I've read about and have seen myself other misstated facts in the book) but that's what's in print.
While HERE'S LUCY was really just another premise change of THE LUCY SHOW, similar in fashion to the ever-present changes over on THE DORIS DAY SHOW around the same time. It was the same show in a lot of ways, but different enough for Lucy to call it "hers" and the property of Lucille Ball Productions whereas THE LUCY SHOW and its name had been sold to Gulf+Western along with Desilu Studios.

THE LUCY SHOW and HERE'S LUCY are different shows, but it's easy to blur the two together, especially if your knowledge is sparse and your familiarity with the shows is weak.
 

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I don't intend to sound mean, but Lucy got decreasingly funny with each successive show. I don't know if it was the writing, the eras in which they appeared, or my increasing maturity and desire for something smarter and more sophisticated like Mary Tyler Moore. Maybe a combination of all three.
 
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BobO'Link

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I believe she just got in a rut and did little more than recycle the gags from I Love Lucy in her subsequent shows to lesser and lesser effect. We'd already seen them. They were funny the first time, not so much the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., often painfully unfunny with the remade version(s). My sister and I watched all of her shows but it was as much out of habit than anything. I don't recall liking any of the post ILL shows all that much, and that includes The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, a direct spin out of the half hour show. Had she not continually used the crutch of prior work in her new shows they'd have been better. There are a few episodes in each series where she actually did some new material and those are usually good. She also had an unfortunate habit of using actors in supporting roles who just weren't that good. The kids in The Lucy Show and her own kids in Here's Lucy are examples of those not so good actors (generally poor timing and sounding like they're reading a script). The Lucy Show improved once the kids were written out in the 4th season. Through it all, she was a powerhouse and no one would tell her "No... that's not good." so the recycling and poor cast selection continued until she retired.
 
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Caproni

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I don't intend to sound mean, but Lucy got decreasingly funny with each successive show. I don't know if it was the writing, the eras in which they appeared, or my increasing maturity and desire for something smarter and more sophisticated like Mary Tyler Moore. Maybe a combination of all three.
It's probably a little of all three, especially the maturing of the sitcoms around her by the early 1970s. MARY TYLER MOORE and MAUDE were two of the most popular shows of that era starring ladies in the lead, but they were considerably more edgy in their approach, while Lucy was basically clinging to her same ole shtick.
 

Caproni

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I believe she just got in a rut and did little more than recycle the gags from I Love Lucy in her subsequent shows to lesser and lesser effect. We'd already seen them. They were funny the first time, not so much the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., often painfully unfunny with the remade version(s). My sister and I watched all of her shows but it was as much out of habit than anything. I don't recall liking any of the post ILL shows all that much, and that includes The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, a direct spin out of the half hour show. Had she not continually used the crutch of prior work in her new shows they'd have been better. There are a few episodes in each series where she actually did some new material and those are usually good. She also had an unfortunate habit of using actors in supporting roles who just weren't that good. The kids in The Lucy Show and her own kids in Here's Lucy are examples of those not so good actors (generally poor timing and sounding like they're reading a script). The Lucy Show improved once the kids were written out in the 4th season. Through it all, she was a powerhouse and no one would tell her "No... that's not good." so the recycling and poor cast selection continued until she retired.
THE LUCY SHOW and HERE'S LUCY both offer some gems to me, although the basic premise did get repetitive. Those episodes where she trailed new ground were the better ones, naturally, but I guess Lucy just holds a place in my heart that I cannot be a total downer when discussing her work on TV.
 

Caproni

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There was one episode of Life with Lucy called "Lucy Among the Two-by-Fours" that I thought had a glimmer of a good show in it. Lucy dates a man (Peter Graves) for the fist time since becoming a widow, and she and the daughter have a heart to heart conversation about life. Lucy and her date also have a thoughtful conversation. The episode ends with a sight gag, but not as extreme as others in the series, which gave just a little "Lucy" button to the end without overdoing it.

I think the show might have been better if they had more of those personal moments, if it had been more of a family comedy, with humor coming from generational issues, ageing, adjusting to changes and the like, rather than from the "zany redhead" premise.

There was another episode where Lucy and Gale Gordon are stuck in a treehouse, and they have a nice conversation, again a moment that made me wish it had been more of a family comedy.
I've binge-watched almost all of LIFE WITH LUCY these past few days on DVD. I can agree with you; had the show been edged as more of a family comedy, it probably would've done better. There's sentiment in it, sure, but very early on the emphasis shifts toward Lucy and Gale Gordon basically doing what they did best, but this time in a hardware store instead of a bank or unique employment agency. The title LIFE WITH LUCY would generally make someone think the show would be about what the first episode setup; a family learning to live life with their zany grandmother having moved in. That all gets shifted though and the "life" aspect is really just filler in most story lines.

There's a few moments where Lucy and Gale Gordon share some sweet and humble scenes together. You can see a genuine friendship and mutual respect behind the typical stabs at one another, and it brings a sense of reality to the show. All that character development gets erased before the next episode, however, where everything thing is wiped away to make a clean slate.

LIFE WITH LUCY isn't really a bad show, or not as bad as they make it out to be, but it did have some wrinkles that needed ironing out. They should've made the show more about family matters with Lucy at the helm as a sarcastic, but usually feather-headed grandmother. They probably pushed away from that concept, however, once they realized the actors playing her family were horrendous. The lady playing her daughter is the worst in my opinion. She always seems to be yelling. Honey, they have a microphone so the people in the back can hear you, so use your inside voice.
 
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KPmusmag

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The lady playing her daughter is the worst in my opinion. She always seems to be yelling. Honey, they have a microphone so the people in the back can hear you, so use your inside voice.
I noticed that, too. I wonder if that may have been the result of Lucy saying to her, "You've gotta play to the back row!" No one on any Lucy show ever spoke quietly; I am sure in the early 50s there was more of a challenge making sure everyone could hear - I have read that was even a problem on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Perhaps the difference is that actress did not know how to use her voice to project rather than yell. Just a thought, but it is definitely distracting.
 
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Caproni

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I noticed that, too. I wonder if that may have been the result of Lucy saying to her, "You've gotta play to the back row!" No one on any Lucy show ever spoke quietly; I am sure in the early 50s there was more of a challenge making sure everyone could hear - I have read that was even a problem on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Perhaps the difference is that actress did not know how to use her voice to project rather than yell. Just a thought, but it is definitely distracting.
Never thought about that. In the early days of TV, there was fear about all of the audience being able to hear what was going on the stage, so people were taught to PROJECT their voices. That was this actress, by name of Ann Dusenberry, is lacking.

She doesn't PROJECT, she YELLS. She doesn't give BASE, she just adds VOLUME.

It's very distracting.
 
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Garysb

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Today is the 69th Anniversary of the premiere of “ I Love Lucy”. What will CBS do for the 70th anniversary next year ? As far as the post Love Lucy shows , I can’t imagine they would have been nearly as successful as they were if Love Lucy didn’t come first. I
am sure others will disagree but I think a number of viewers of the later shows watch them with the memory of Lucy Ricardo allowing them to enjoy the shows more then they otherwise would.
 
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Wiseguy

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Never thought about that. In the early days of TV, there was fear about all of the audience being able to hear what was going on the stage, so people were taught to PROJECT their voices. That was this actress, by name of Ann Dusenberry, is lacking.

She doesn't PROJECT, she YELLS. She doesn't give BASE, she just adds VOLUME.

It's very distracting.
She did have a nice scene in "Basic Training," released the year before this series. :P
 

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I would guess so. They get good ratings and have rerun potential, too, in this COVID-age of the networks having to scrap for content to fill their schedules.
They could even colorize the premiere episode and broadcast it at the exact time on the date of the original broadcast along with the original animated opening and original commercials. For the second episode they could colorize the actual first episode filmed. (Although I don't know if these two episodes are attention-worthy enough and showing old commercials (especially cigarette) could be a problem. They could release it on DVD as an anniversary special).
 

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Trivia The first person seen in the Ricardo living room was not Lucy, Ricky, Fred, or Ethel . It was John Stephenson, the announcer doing a Philip Morris, commercial on the first broadcast episode, "The Girls Want To Go To A Nightclub"
 
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