I Love Lucy: Season 1, Episode 30

Lucy Does a TV Commercial (5 May 1952)

TV Episode  |  TV-G  |   |  Comedy, Family
9.5
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In this classic "I Love Lucy" episode, Lucy angled here way onto Ricky's special as the show's pitch girl. She advertises a medicine called "Vitameatavegamin." Believe it contains vitamins,... See full summary »

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Title: Lucy Does a TV Commercial (05 May 1952)

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In this classic "I Love Lucy" episode, Lucy angled here way onto Ricky's special as the show's pitch girl. She advertises a medicine called "Vitameatavegamin." Believe it contains vitamins, minerals, meat, and vegetables, Lucy actually does not know is that the stuff is also contained twenty-three percent of alcohol. Written by rocknrollunderdawg

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Comedy | Family

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5 May 1952 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Vitameatavegamin that Lucy drank was actually apple pectin. See more »

Goofs

At the start of Act 3, Lucy can be seen twice waiting off stage for her scene to start. See more »

Quotes

Ricky Ricardo: [Lucy is angry at Ricky and will not speak or acknowledge him] Honey, could you please make my breakfast?
[She ignores him]
Ricky Ricardo: Lucy, why won't you answer me?
[She still ignores him]
Ricky Ricardo: What do you want me to do, starve to death?
Lucy Ricardo: Would you, please?
See more »

Connections

Featured in 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme From 'I Love Lucy' (Instrumental)
Written by Eliot Daniel
Performed by Wilbur Hatch and the Desi Arnaz Orchestra
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"Do You Pop Out At Parties? Are You Unpoopular?"
28 October 2014 | by (Fredericksburg, VA) – See all my reviews

Ricky (Desi Arnaz) is given the opportunity to host a television show, receiving a telephone call saying that he needs to find a girl to do a commercial spot for one of their sponsors. Naturally Lucy overhears this and wants in. After her husband sternly refuses, an undeterred Lucy wants to be in it now more than ever. She goes so far as to set up a mock commercial while Ricky is away at a band rehearsal. When he arrives back home, their neighbor Fred (William Frawley) is standing by the set to assist her and tells Ricky that an upcoming program is about to air. Lucy flips up a sheet covering the screen of the TV and poses as Johnny the bellhop of Phillip Morris fame, the then-sponsor of I Love Lucy. Ricky has had enough and goes behind the set and plugs the cord back into the outlet, causing a minor explosion and becomes angry soon after when he discovers that Lucy, piece by piece, took out each part of the set (rather than sliding out the chassis as a whole) for her to fit inside for the bit.

The next morning, Lucy is cross with Ricky. She will not speak with him as his mind is made up not to let her do the commercial. Ricky ignores this and tells Fred to wait for a phone call from the girl doing the commercial to tell her what time she needs to be at the studio and which one to be in. As Ricky leaves, Lucy sneakily says to Fred that she will wait for the call and deliver the message herself to the girl. Once the actress phones, Lucy tells her that she is not needed and goes down to the studio in person in place of the original one. The director explains the sales pitch to her regarding the "Vitameatavegamin" health tonic to Lucy in order for her to advertise the said product.

From here on out, what follows is classic comedic television history gold. Unbeknownst to Lucy and the director (Ross Elliott), the tonic contains twenty-three percent alcohol, making it in effect forty-six percent spirituous liquor, and that it is not meant to be taken more than once a day. The takes Lucy delivers do indeed brim with brightness and vivacity…that is until the director is unsatisfied with each take and tells Lucy to take a repeated spoonful of the stuff. At first Lucy reviles at the flavor, but with each gulp the repulsive alcohol-induced treacle kicks in after a while and starts tasting delicious. After several more takes containing slurred speech, wacky grimaces, incorrect pronunciation of the product and even quaffing the stuff straight, the director is aware of what is going on and asks to have the intoxicated Lucy taken backstage to sober up before the program. When the show begins, Ricky comes out and starts singing "El Relicario". From backstage Lucy comes out before her cue, still suffering the side effects of the health elixir. Trying to keep her off-screen, she begins to sing along with him and begins delivering her pitch in the middle of his number. Ricky then carries her offstage after her goofy actions become quite obvious.

Aired in the US on May 5, 1952 for the CBS Television Network, this initial episode from the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy was watched by sixty-eight percent of the television viewing audience at the time as American citizens had tuned in to see that famous dizzy redhead perform her latest harebrained scheme, in which she becomes dizzier than ever to the point of uproarious ingenuity. An interesting but of trivia is that the alcohol content for the medicine was originally supposed to be eleven percent, but was increased to twenty-three percent for the show as the tonic was actually apple pectin, found in many health food stores. Also, Vivian Vance (Ethel) is absent from this episode, as Fred mentions that she was going to see her mother. Over time, the word "Vitameatavegamin" has become a kind of shorthand for this episode and for the I Love Lucy show in general. Maury Thompson, who played the script clerk in the episode, was actually the real-life script clerk for the actual show! Ms. Ball had asked that he be placed directly in front of her in case she forgot part of the long spiel and needed prompting because this was a time before anyone in television used "cue cards." Lucy did mess up, of course. If you watch closely, however, you will note that when Mrs. Ricardo is her most inebriated that she jumps from the opening lines of the commercial, to the closing, then goes back and does the middle. Mind you this was NOT supposed to happen! Lucille Ball goofed up – but quickly realized what she had done and, while the cameras were still turning, went back and picked up what she had omitted...and did it so flawlessly that no one in the audience was aware that anything had even happened! Despite the alcohol being at the twenty-three percentage mark, the sloshed comedienne gave America a memorable dose of hilarity and gave a performance at a marked percentage of one hundred.


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