The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957–1960)
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Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana: A novelty in that it "flashes back" to Lucy and Ricky's first meeting, it's also not terribly funny and often quite dull. Lucy and Ann Sothern have some good chemistry but the material isn't there. It also contradicts some of the "canon" of the "I Love Lucy" series, but that's not really all that new. Worth watching once for curiosity value; just don't expect a lot of laughs.
The Celebrity Next Door: Easily the best of the lot, and coincidentally, the last in which Lucy would wear her trademark hairdo. Thus, it still FEELS like a Lucy episode. Tallulah Bankhead gives as good as she gets and practically steals the episode. The final "play" is amusing as well. And remember, folks, "When Miss Bankhead is bored, Miss Bankhead will let you know."
Lucy Hunts Uranium: A bit predictable, but the location shooting and the "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" hijinks at the end are good for some smiles. Fred MacMurray is fairly likable in his star turn, though Lucy and Ricky (the characters) are starting to get a little too cavalier with how they treat celebrities! Would you leave Fred MacMurray in the desert to die?
Lucy Wins a Race Horse: Not a terrible episode, this still predicts the more tired humor of "The Lucy Show". Lucy and Ethel pushing a horse upstairs is worth a few laughs. Ricky, however, is just starting to look hollow-eyed, gray and tired.
Lucy Goes to Sun Valley: The tension between Lucy and Desi is becoming palpable, but not quite pronounced. There's not really much interesting in this episode; its major set piece seems to be each character interrupting Fernando Lamas as he's taking a shower.
Lucy Goes to Mexico: A truly irritating episode; Lucy and Ricky's aforementioned bickering now seems to have a nasty edge to it. The hijinks just seem strained here whereas they were effortless in the European ILL episodes. However, Lucy's turn as a toreador at the end is kind of amusing, albeit very "Lucy Show" in the writing.
Lucy Makes Room for Danny: I never really liked Danny Thomas much; the kids almost save this episode by generally being more likable than the main characters. Gale Gordon does have a funny role at the end as the judge who calls Fred "a miserable tightwad." All in all, though, the original ILL "Courtroom" show is funnier.
Lucy Goes to Alaska: Red Skelton DOES come off well in this episode, charming and guileless. I'm not that fond of his routine with Lucy in the middle, as it goes on too long. But the sleeping scene is okay, and the final scene with Red flying the airplane has a little suspense to it.
Lucy Wants a Career: Simply put, this is an hour long "Lucy Show" with special guest star Desi Arnaz. Lucy is a dim bulb through most of it, doing stale slapstick and irritating the hell out of Paul Douglas (whoever he is, he's not exactly a charmer). The original "I Love Lucy" charm is just about gone.
Lucy's Summer Vacation: A dull episode whose idea of a comedic set piece is Lucy and Ida Lupino plugging up holes in a boat with chewing gum. Almost instantly forgettable.
Milton Berle Hides Out at the Ricardos: My God, Desi looks horrible in this episode. Hollow-eyed, listless, gray and tense, until the moment when Ricky becomes inexplicably psychotic and punches out Milton Berle, thinking Uncle Miltie is Lucy's paramour. Then there's the final scenes on the crane, with Lucy's stunt double painfully obvious, as she looks nothing like Lucy. Perhaps the worst of all the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hours...
The Ricardos Go To Japan: ...to be followed by one of the best. Sure, it may be as authentic to Japan as an American-made sushi roll, but Bob Cummings is fairly funny, and Lucy and Viv recapture their original chemistry all over again. A fun episode, worth rewatching.
Lucy Meets the Moustache: However, in this last episode, Lucy and Desi are back to their usual distance and it shows. Ernie Kovacs is not a natural to this kind of comedy, though Edie Adams does all right. This isn't grade A but it's not a total waste of time, either. Even though it's all been done, at least you can see it being done with the original cast one last time, and that's not so bad.
Overall: Worth seeing once. Not going to stand alongside the original half hour. "The Celebrity Next Door" is a keeper, with "The Ricardos Go To Japan" being a runner-up. Everything else... see it for the historic value, then let it alone.
Each episode has a unique twist to it: a snowball fight with Danny Thomas, a horse race with Betty Grable, a chance to ice skate with Fernando Lamas.
It is a great way to spend a Saturday night.
It was the scene where Tallulah says.."when Miss Bankhead is bored, Miss Bankhead will tell you"--the reaction shot of Lucy was priceless!! The other episodes were passable, but this particular one is the stand-out.
This would be Lucille Ball's first of many mediocre sitcoms that followed "I Love Lucy" that had her doing the same tricks over and over. From "The Lucy Show" to "Here's Lucy" and "Life With Lucy", the Comedy Hours began a 2 decade period of Lucy's attempt to hang on to a formula that is out of place and exhausted--especially in the 70's and 80's when other brands of comedy and humor have exceeded.
There are very little--even FEW moments in this series that made me laugh. The reason is because the writing is tired. The jokes are flat. The audiences seems to eat it all up because frankly they are giddy that they're in the same room as these wonderful actors. I'd be giddy too if I was in the same room as Lucy, Desi, Vivian and William. But that's no reason to keep a show on the air.
Each show has the cast in a specific situation or place that lasts the entire hour. They range from being in Mexico, the Alps and even Tokyo. The change in "scenery" may perk ears up but the delivery of jokes and recreating the magic that has begun to fade--immediately flattens your curiosity.
If you're a huge Lucy fan this is probably something you should get because you probably want anything and everything with Lucy in it. I'm a huge fan and that's why I got it. I was intrigued by the idea of this show. After reading many biographies and reading ABOUT this show--I was desperate to see it. And I began to buy these tapes about 10 years ago.
A lot of scenes seem to drag on and instead of having that feeling of "Oh wow, the show's over?? That went by too fast!" It's really.."When is this over?" I may sound like I'm completely bashing it but you can see for yourself. The pacing of the show is slower, they are obviously trying too hard to make it work.
You can force yourself to laugh at all these shows but you have to realize why. Is it because you really think it's funny or because it's Lucy and your brain assumes she's always hilarious? If you seem to have to force yourself to laugh at something...then it's probably not that funny. "I Love Lucy" never had you do that. These shows will.
I thought that all of Lucy's shows from the 1950s to the late 1960s and early 70s were funny in their own unique way. The fact that Ms. Ball had three to four TV shows prove how adaptable she was. Some of the same folks that were seen on her first show, later appear on her later shows.
Lucy Goes to Japan- It has this funny moment where Lucy disguises herself as a kimono dancer and she tries to keep up with the other dancers. At the end of that moment, the two girls were saying Japanese and when Lucy said something gibberish that sounded like Japanese, I died laughing.
Lucy Makes Room for Danny- There are two moments that I found freaking priceless. One moment is when The Ricardos, the Mertzes, and the Williams get into a snowball fight. The other moment is when Lucy is telling the judge(Played by Gale Gordon from "The Lucy Show) via charades about what happened.
Lucy Finds Uranium- There is this hilarious chase scene that reminds me of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
If there are four reasons why you should give The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour a try, it's 1)The memorable guest stars(Tallulah Bankhead, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, etc), 2)The likable characters, 3)The show stayed true to "I Love Lucy", and 4)The great laughs you'll get from watching this show.
The best way I can describe "We Love Lucy" is a tire with all of the air let out; flat. The cast looked to me like they were on their last leg. They seemed to go thru the motions, but with none of the enthusiasm they had on the original show. IMO, the celebrity guest stars didn't help.
This was especially true of Lucy and Desi. From what I read in the book "Desilu", the flatness of the show can be partly attributed to their marriage problems, which kept on spilling over on the set, no doubt causing a sour atmosphere.
Nowhere was the tension more evident than in the final episode with Ernie Kovacs, in which neither Lucy nor Desi looked at all happy, and which was confirmed by Kovacs' wife, who sang in that episode.
Another curious thing is how Lucy's voice became hoarse (and stayed that way for the rest of her life) in the "We Love Lucy" shows.
The rest of the episodes pale in comparison to this episode and certainly to nearly every I Love Lucy episode. Watch The Celebrity Next Door and skip the rest of them.