The legendary queen of television comedy, Lucille Ball, is joined by her real-life children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., in her third long-running sitcom success. Ball plays Lucille Carter, widowed mother of teenagers Kim and Craig. Lucy works for her brother-in-law Harry, played by Gale Gordon, who owns Carter's Unique Employment Agency, leading Lucy into endless predicaments and hilarious hijinks.
The complete third season of Here's Lucy (1970-71, CBS-TV) features all 24 color episodes uncut and digitally remastered for superior quality, plus a wealth of new and never-before-seen special features. Guest stars include Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Carol Burnett, Vincent Price, Sammy Davis Jr., Rudy Vallee, Jack Benny, Art Linkletter, Buddy Rich, Wally Cox and Vivian Vance.
Richard Burton, the movie star, escapes riotous fans by wearing a plumber's disguise and Lucy later finds a remarkable diamond ring in his discarded over-alls in "Lucy Meets the Burtons." Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor appear as themselves. Lucy threatens to take up skydiving if her kids don't drop their dangerous activities, but Harry convinces her to actually do it as publicity for the Employment Agency in "Lucy the Skydiver." Lucy ends up hitting Sammy Davis Jr. while opening the door to the employment agency and it hits his nose which causes him to threaten to sue Harry and Lucy if his nose looks different for the movie he is filming in "Lucy and Sammy Davis, Jr." After seeing Buddy Rich perform Craig decides to enter a drum contest in "Lucy and the Drum Contest." Buddy Rich appears as himself. When Lucy buys Craig a record player for his birthday it ends up not working right, so Lucy brings it back to the store but they won't accept it back which causes Lucy and other victims of the company's defective products to present their case in front of shareholders in "Lucy the Crusader." Charles Nelson Reilly guest stars as Elroy Clunk. Harry & his classmates hold a reunion musical variety show about the roaring 20's in which of course Lucy & family are prominently featured in "Lucy the Coed." Craig produces a documentary focusing on his family, who become self-conscious of the camera in "Lucy the American Mother."
While Uncle Harry is away at his college reunion, Lucy borrows his home for a Greek couple's wedding in "Lucy's Wedding Party." Lucy has the winning bid on a painting at an auction and asks Vincent Price to appraise it for her in "Lucy Cuts Vincent's Price." Harry gets a contract to have a diamond cut for a rich and eccentric woman in "Lucy and the Diamond Cutter." Wally Cox guest stars. Harry sends Lucy to Jack Benny's house where she writes down his biography. Important and significant events throughout his life like him as a child practicing violin to being in the navy to shows with Mary Livingston in "Lucy and Jack Benny's Biography." George Burns makes a cameo appearance. Lucy tries to modernize Rudy Vallee with the help of Kim and her Rock N Roll friends in "Lucy and Rudy Vallee." Lucy is chosen on an audience participation game show in "Lucy Loses Her Cool." Art Linkletter appears as himself. Harry bribes Lucy into posing as his pregnant wife to keep away an old flame with romantic desires for Harry in "Lucy, Part-Time Wife." Lucy discovers that her new next door neighbours are actually little people crooks hiding from the police in "Lucy and Ma Parker."
Lucy assumes that Harry is broke and marrying a rich woman for her money in "Lucy Stops a Marriage." Lucy wants to go to Palm Springs with Kim but can't go unless she gets fired in "Lucy's Vacation." Lucy wants a long weekend to go to Mexico with the kids and Lucy tries to cure miserable Harry by coaxing him to get glasses in "Lucy and the 20-20 Vision." Kim wins a fast sports car in a church raffle in "Lucy and the Raffle." While having his house redecorated, Harry moves in with Lucy and Kim in "Lucy's Houseguest, Harry." Lucy finds an old cigarette lighter/lamp which grants wishes to all who use it in "Lucy and Aladdin's Lamp." Lucy and Carol Burnett put on the "Hollywood Unemployment Follies" after both lose their jobs in "Lucy and Carol Burnett." Jack Benny makes a cameo appearance. Richard Deacon plays Harvey Hoople. Lucy is working her way to Hawaii as social director on an ocean liner, and ends up convincing Harry to pay for Kim and Craig to come along too in :Lucy Goes Hawaiian (Parts 1 and 2)." Vivian Vance returns as Viv. Episode summaries courtesy of TV.com .
All of the episodes are uncut, with runtimes of over 25 minutes. Here is the breakdown by disc, including the original airdates, exact runtimes and episode introduction information:
Lucy Meets the Burtons (09/14/70) (25:41) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy the Skydiver (09/21/70) (25:31) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy and Sammy Davis, Jr. (09/28/70)(25:29) - Altovise Davis & Elliott Reid
Lucy and the Drum Contest (10/05/70)(25:30) - Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Lucy the Crusader (10/12/70) (25:31) - Carole Cook
Lucy the Coed (10/19/70) (25:40) - Jim Bates & Anita Mann
Lucy the American Mother (10/26/70)- Desi Arnaz, Jr. (25:40)
Lucy's Wedding Party (11/02/70)(25:41) - Bruce Gordon and Paul Picerni
Lucy Cuts Vincent's Price (11/09/70) (25:30) - Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Lucy and the Diamond Cutter (11/16/70) (25:32) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy and Jack Benny's Biography (11/23/70) (25:32) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy and Rudy Vallee (11/30/70) (25:41) - Marl Young
Lucy Loses Her Cool (12/07/70) (25:29) - Art Linkletter
Lucy, Part-Time Wife (12/14/70) (25:40) - Carole Cook
Lucy and Ma Parker (12/21/70) (25:31) - Carole Cook and Jerry Maren
Lucy Stops a Marriage (12/28/70) (25:41) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy's Vacation (01/14/71) (25:40) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy and the 20-20 Vision (01/11/71) (25:39) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy and the Raffle (01/18/71) (25:11) - Paul Picerni
Lucy's Houseguest, Harry (01/25/71) (25:39) - Emile Autuori
Lucy and Aladdin's Lamp (02/01/71) (25:40) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy and Carol Burnett (02/08/71) (25:41) - Carole Cook
Lucy Goes Hawaiian (Part 1) (02/15/71) (25:41) - Lucie Arnaz
Lucy Goes Hawaiian (Part 2) (02/22/71) (25:41) - Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Anita Mann
As is common for MPI releases, the packaging for this set is very much consistent with the previous seasons--simple and to the point. The cover art has a publicity photo of Lucy and the kids (still no Gale Gordon, but I would expect him on Season 4 since Desi was no longer a regular), while the back has a summary of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs. There is also a photo of Lucy with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Lucy is on the spine of the snapcase. Inside the snapcase, we find the four discs and a listing of the episodes (printed on the inside of the case). There are no episode descriptions, but original airdates and information about the people that introduce each episode on the DVD set can be found. An episode guide would have been a handy reference to have available. There is a plastic holder in the center of the case that holds Discs 1-2 and 3-4 back-to-back. The disc artwork has a yellow and green color scheme, with the series logo and a picture of the Lucy puppet as seen in the opening credits. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-15, Disc 3 contains episodes 16-22, and Disc 4 contains episodes 22-24, as well as the numerous special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
As the packaging is the same as it was for Seasons One-Two, the menus are also the same. That isn't exactly the greatest news in the world, although the menus aren't terrible. Actually, they have some pretty nice effects with an 3D animated Lucy in front of a blue curtain (like in the opening credits) and look professional, but I dislike the main menu giving options of "Play With Introductions" and "Play Without Introductions." It is somewhat of an awkward place to put these options. There is also an option to turn on English subtitles on the main menu. Once you have selected one of these, you go to a menu that lists all of the episodes, as well as a Special Features option on Disc 4. Once you select an episode, it plays without any additional menus. If you chose to play the episode with the introduction from the main menu, you get a brief (1-3 minutes) video introduction to the episode by Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz, Jr. or somebody else connected to that particular episode or the series in general. Otherwise the episode plays right away. Honestly, it would make much more sense to list all of the episodes on the main menu and have an option next to each episode to play it with or without the introduction. Chapters are placed in all of the appropriate places.
Video and Audio Quality:
There really aren't any issues that I noticed with the video and audio quality, although it isn't necessarily perfect. The picture quality is a little dull and there is some grain, dust and debris, but nothing out of the ordinary for a series this age. In fact, the quality does seem better than what is normally seen on syndicated prints of the series because they have digitally remastered the episodes for the best quality possible. There are some audio level fluctuations, but no major problems. The episodes are presented in mono (what else?) and English subtitles are available for every episode. No music has been edited from the episodes. They have a Lucille Ball Productions, Inc. closing logo.
Once again, there are numerous special features on this set. Approximately 3-4 hours worth of special features are included. Most can be found on Disc 4. Every single episode on the set has a video introduction, complete with titles, called "Introducing Lucy." In these introductions, we get a preview of the upcoming episode from a person involved with the series. On most episodes, we have an introduction by Lucie Arnaz or Desi Arnaz, Jr., but you'll also find Altovise Davis, Elliott Reid, Carole Cook, Jim Bates, Anita Mann, Bruce Gordon, Paul Picerni, Marl Young, Art Linkletter, Jerry Maren and Emile Autuori. They each last for one to three minutes, and talk about actors in the episodes as well as the plots of the episodes. I've listed who does the intros in the Episodes section above. I wish more sets would include introductions like these. Commentaries can sometimes be tedious. These intros give you some interesting trivia facts in a quick fashion.
The remaining special features can be found on Disc 4. There are several featurettes and the usual Let's Talk to Lucy, Treasures from Lucy's Vault, Production Files, Slide Show and Syndication Promos that have also been included on Seasons 1-2. Here is a breakdown:
Lucy Meets the Burtons: A Comedic Gem (24:22) - This new featurette includes interviews with Lucie Arnaz, Production Executive Howard Rayfiel, Producer Cleo Smith, Columnist James Bacon, Property Master Ken Wescott,
Television Critic Cecil Smith, Cue Card Operator Tommy Tucker, Hairstylist Irma Kusely, Writer Madelyn Davis and Carole Cook. They talk about how the episode came about, the writers, the ring, working with Director Jerry Paris and what kind of perks Burton and Taylor received for appearing in the episode. There is also some behind-the-scenes footage. This is a nicely produced featurette for an episode that was nominated for 2 Emmys and was the highest rated in the series.
Let's Talk to Lucy: Doris Day (9:33) - This is from March 22, 1965 - Episode 141. This is a radio program with Lucy interviewing Doris Day on the set of the "Do Not Disturb" motion picture. Various still images of Lucy and Doris are shown on the screen. Lucy asks her about hats, rehearsing, working with props and what she enjoys most about her success.
Make Room for Granddaddy with Lucy - Marjorie Lord (Kathy Williams) provided an intro (:58) and talks about working with Lucy. The Make Room for Granddaddy cross-over episode is called "Lucy Carter, Houseguest" and aired on ABC on January 21, 1971. This is my first time seeing for Make Room for Granddaddy. Angela Cartwright was also one of the stars. It would be interesting to see more of this one-year wonder. There's also a PSA with Marlo Thomas that runs 2 minutes, 3 seconds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Lucy with Jack Benny (16:03) - This is from a 1971 special called "Everything You Wanted to Know About Jack Benny... But Were Afraid to Ask." Lucy performs in several sketches. John Wayne and George Burns also appear.
Treasures from Lucy's Vault - These include home videos, a young Desi Arnaz, Jr. on Art Linkletter's House Party and a On the Set behind the scenes feature.
Aloha Lucy (4:58) - Some color home movies from Hawaii with background music. Vivian Vance is also there with the family.
Goofy Golf (2:34) - Some video of Lucy playing golf with Bob Hope in Palm Springs, CA.
Desi Jr. House Party (3:19) - Desi Arnaz, Jr. appears on the December 29, 1957 episode.
On the Set (16:02) - Some behind-the-scenes footage from various episodes of the season. Art Director Ray Beal, Choreographer Jack Baker, Sammy Davis, Jr., Director Herbert Kenwith and Director of Photography Maury Gertsman are in the vintage footage. Some models of the sets, rehearsal footage for one of the Jack Benny episodes and Lucy's parachute jump are shown.
Lip-Sync Lucy (1:13) - Carole Cook gives a brief intro for the music number from a Jack Benny special. She provided the singing, while Lucy did the lip-syncing. Lucy lip-syncs "Hey, Big Spender" on The Jack Benny Birthday Special (4:10) that aired on February 17, 1969 on NBC.
Lucie & Desi Jr. with Robert Young (7:39) - This is from the Kraft Music Hall Presents Robert Young special that aired in 1970. Robert Young's Father Knows Best co-star, Jane Wyatt, also appears in the sketch. They play the parents of Lucie and Desi.
Lucie Commercial (:44) - Lucie appears in a commercial for Pepsodent. This is followed by a general Pepsodent promo for the show.
Original Billboards (2:01) - The show intro is shown followed by promos for Close-Up Toothpaste and Mouthpaste in One, The Close-Ups and Wisk. They sure don't make commercials like they used to.
Syndication Promos (14:48) - These are syndication promos from the late 70s or early 80s. They are fun to watch and give you an idea what the episode is about. These are in the production order, so the "Lucy Meets the Burtons" promo is towards the end and not the first one as it was originally broadcast by CBS.
Production Files - These are read by Wanda Clark - the personal secretary to Lucille Ball from 1963 until Lucy's death. They are from the original press releases to promote the episodes. Some interesting details and trivia are provided for 5 episodes.
Lucy Meets the Burtons (2:27), Lucy and Sammy Davis Jr. (1:52), Lucy the Crusader (2:10), Lucy the Coed (2:03), Lucy's Wedding Party (2:12)
Slide Show (3:22)- Various still images are shown with some groovy '70s music played in the background.
Lucy & Related Promos (10:57) - These are mostly promos for other MPI DVD releases.
Lucie Arnaz - Latin Roots CD, The Jackie Gleason Show/The Color Honeymooners, The Mothers-in-Law, The Lucille Ball Specials, Lucy and Desi - A Home Movie, The Doris Day Show - Seasons 1-5
DVD Credits - A text listing of the people who helped produce the set. A great job by the folks at MPI as usual!
Season three of Here's Lucy is notable for several reasons. This was the highest rated of the 6 seasons. It finished #3 in the Nielsen ratings and was the #1 most watched show on CBS. The season premiere, "Lucy Meets the Burtons," was the highest rated episode and perhaps the most famous of the series. This season also had a couple of additional musically oriented episodes compared to the previous two seasons. They normally did five, but that was increased to seven. This season also marked Desi Arnaz, Jr.'s last as a series regular.
MPI Home Video has, once again, delivered an excellent release. They've been very consistent with the three seasons. Everything that you've come to expect like excellent, unedited episodes and tons of special features have been included. In fact, this season three set probably has the most and best mix of them to date.
It's amazing how much footage there is of Lucy and her various television shows. So much of her life and behind-the-scenes footage was documented. It's like they had planned for DVD releases years in the future. She must make the job of a DVD producer much easier with so much available material to choose from. We are half-way done with the series. If they continue to release them at the current rate, we should have the complete series sometime in 2011.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
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