Life with Lucy: The Complete Series DVD Review

4 Stars

Matt Hough submitted a new blog post

Life with Lucy: The Complete Series DVD Review
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Matt Hough

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20 Comments

  1. I agree with your assessment, but there is one episode I like, "Love Among the Two-by-Fours". Peter Graves portrays an ex of Lucy's, and they rekindle their romance. It is the most adult of the episodes, and I think if the series had focused more on aging and family issues, kind of like Golden Girls did, it would have been a better show. There is a nice mother and daughter moment that I find touching. And the episode ends with a low-key Lucy-style gag that is not too over the top, like in some of the other episodes.

    Too often, they tried to redo the zany antics of Lucy and Mr. Mooney, that just are not funny, both with a more sophisticated audience and, for me, it was alarming to see a grandmother trying to deal with an out of control washing machine, etc. But I will pick this up as I would like a higher quality version that what I have from my VHS tapes from the time (and I don't have all the episodes).

  2. What a coincidence. Lucy's last movie was Mame in 1974, and her last TV show were in 1986, and both were soundly rejected by the public. Both years are years of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac since they are twelve years apart. TV changed dramatically then, almost as much as it did from 1962 to 1974, the Lucy Show/Here's Lucy era.

    KPmusmag

    I agree with your assessment, but there is one episode I like, "Love Among the Two-by-Fours". Peter Graves portrays an ex of Lucy's, and they rekindle their romance. It is the most adult of the episodes, and I think if the series had focused more on aging and family issues, kind of like Golden Girls did, it would have been a better show. There is a nice mother and daughter moment that I find touching. And the episode ends with a low-key Lucy-style gag that is not too over the top, like in some of the other episodes.

    Too often, they tried to redo the zany antics of Lucy and Mr. Mooney, that just are not funny, both with a more sophisticated audience and, for me, it was alarming to see a grandmother trying to deal with an out of control washing machine, etc. But I will pick this up as I would like a higher quality version that what I have from my VHS tapes from the time (and I don't have all the episodes).

    Coincidentally, Peter Graves was on The Golden Girls in its last season as one of Blanche's dates. If they'd done a show like you'd suggested, they would have been accused of ripping it off. Not like that ever stopped ABC (Always Been Copying) before.

  3. I tuned in to see this show in 1986 and I tuned out quite quickly, too. If I recall, this return to TV was being billed as something new and refreshing for Lucy and her fans (modern, I guess?), but her decision to want Gale Gordon back negated all that immediately. I have nothing against Gale Gordon, to be clear, just that decision was opposite of how the show was being publicized. Right from the start it felt "same old, same old" and emphasis on old. I don't know if I can even attempt to watch these episodes now…I had enough trouble getting through Here's Lucy a couple years ago. I hadn't watched it when it first aired, I watched Laugh-In.

  4. BobO’Link

    **EDIT**
    Wow… just checked Amazon. This 13 episode, 2 disc, series has a far too expensive $35 pre order price! Is this a BOD? It *is* from CBS who seems to be doing this more and more with older/stalled series.

    Considering that this Life With Lucy all-in-one has bonuses on it, I don't think it's a BOD/MOD.

  5. BobO’Link

    Or rather *were* funny the first time but not the 3rd/4th/etc.

    And between the last two Lucy shows, her old writers did Alice and got nine years out of that, so that must have been a change of pace for them. The coincidence of that is that the Oscar-winning originator of the title role from the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Ellen Burstyn, had a flop sitcom right after Life With Lucy from Golden Girls' producer, Touchstone Television.

    I was three years old then and mainly watched NBC and CBS cartoons on Saturday Morning so I wouldn't have seen or heard promos for it, and if I was up to watch anything on prime-time TV on Saturday at 8:00 PM, it was more than likely The Facts of Life over on NBC. I didn't even watch I Love Lucy in reruns until Nick at Nite got the rights, and then later I found that Lucy had a radio show where a lot of that show's earliest plots originated. A lot of these bits of business are older than you think.

  6. I think a lot of Lucy's continued success on TV in the 1960s and 1970s can be attributed to the fact that they were filmed before an audience when many sitcoms were single-camera shows with laugh tracks. Other shows switched back to the three-camera/studio audience format in the 1970s and took that advantage away from her. But her idea of changing with the times was to make her character a wheat germ-eating health obsessive. The opportunity to mine humor out of that whole mentality was there, but they squandered it.

    The irony of this show's failing where The Golden Girls had been a hit becomes even greater when you take Mame, Lucy's last big public failure, into account. Her co-star there, Bea Arthur, now had a hit show about aging after she'd flopped on ABC in Amanda's, an attempt to Americanize Fawlty Towers that also had the misfortune of premiering about five or six months after Newhart. Angela Lansbury, who played the title role on Broadway, also now had a hit in Murder, She Wrote. It's also an even greater coincidence that Eydie Gorme sings the theme song* since she had also recorded a fantastic version of Mame's "If He Walked Into My Life" when it was a new song.

    *Joel Higgins (whom ABC just did not know what to do with and NBC did), please come back to TV, we miss you.

  7. “Here’s Lucy” was not a particularly good series, so to bring back Gale Gordon and some of the creative team from that show 12 years later had disaster written all over it. The constant antagonism between Lucy and Gale Gordon’s characters had been played out years earlier. Plus, Lucille Ball was no longer the performer she once was. She was completely relying on cue cards by that time, and her gravelly, low-pitched voice had none of the inflections that helped make her line deliveries on her first series so funny.

  8. sjbradford

    “Here’s Lucy” was not a particularly good series, so to bring back Gale Gordon and some of the creative team from that show 12 years later had disaster written all over it. The constant antagonism between Lucy and Gale Gordon’s characters had been played out years earlier. Plus, Lucille Ball was no longer the performer she once was. She was completely relying on cue cards by that time, and her gravelly, low-pitched voice had none of the inflections that helped make her line deliveries on her first series so funny.

    Yes, I meant to mention in the review that you can catch Lucy referring to cue cards if you watch her closely. I mean, she was hardly the first to do that, but it does rob her of any spontaneity in her performance.

  9. Lucy's voice was already headed downward all the way back in the I Love Lucy days; she's much higher-pitched in the first two seasons. After Little Ricky was born (and Desi Jr. in real life), you could hear her lose an octave. Booze and tobacco brought it down further gradually and doing Wildcat live eight times a week seemed to do further damage.

  10. Matt Hough

    Yes, I meant to mention in the review that you can catch Lucy referring to cue cards if you watch her closely. I mean, she was hardly the first to do that, but it does rob her of any spontaneity in her performance.

    Quite true– however, my nephew Eli loves Here's Lucy notwithstanding; I got the third go (1970-71) for him for his 15th birthday, and I'm sure he'll devour it (he'll be getting the remaining three [one a year] at succeeding birthdays).

  11. One other thing that kept bringing audiences back to her Lucy Show and Here's Lucy series was the guest stars. Lucy could get the biggest names for her series week after week. I mean, she got Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and "the diamond" to appear! Pretty remarkable, (There is a documentary on the DVD set of that season, I believe it's thirty minutes, where they discuss the origins and the filming of that episode and, thankfully, it's very well-rounded telling the warts and all of everyone involved in it.

    Although some of those guest star episodes are train wrecks, you must admit. I never watched Here's Lucy when it originally aired because I watched Laugh-In every week, but a few years ago I began watching the series and I really had to think of it as variety show sketches because week after week didn't always adhere to any sort of continuity, or believability, a lot of the time.

    Anyone have an idea of why Lucy won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series two years in a row in 1967 & 1968? The two worst years of The Lucy Show? The other choices those two years were: Elizabeth Montgomery (both years) Agnes Moorehead (1 year), Marlo Thomas (both years) Paula Prentiss (1 year) and Barbara Feldon (1 year). I mean, really. Then again, the next two years it went to Hope Lange in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir which also makes absolutely no sense either.

  12. BobO’Link

    She kept repeating that formula seemingly hoping that lightning would strike again. It never did.

    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!

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