TITLE: HERE'S LUCY - THE COMPLETE SERIES
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014 (MPI Home Video)
Color / 1968-1974
Number of Discs: 24
Number of Episodes: 144
Running Time: approx. 4320 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 900 min
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: English Subtitles
Special Features: Episode Introductions; Here's Lucy Spotlight featurettes; Let's Talk to Lucy featurettes; Treasures From Lucy's Vault; Here's Lucy Slideshow; Series Production Files; Syndication Promos; See individual season reviews for season specific special features
Between 2009 and 2012, MPI released all six seasons of Here's Lucy, which was Lucille Ball's third major TV series on CBS. Airing from 1968 until 1974, the series follows Lucy Carter, a widowed mother of two teenagers Kim and Craig (played by real life children Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr.), as she goes through life working for her brother-in-law Harry (Gale Gordon) at his unique employment agency. In typical Lucy spirit, of course, there is never an ordinary day, as there are frequent predicaments, hijinks, and encounters with major celebrities seemingly every week. While it is not Ball's most memorable series, it was certainly a well-written and entertaining series, and a much stronger series than the later years of her previous series.
The idea for Here's Lucy began toward the end of the sixth season of The Lucy Show. Lucille Ball had just sold Desilu, the studio that was behind not only her own series, but several other successful series of the time, but she wasn't quite ready to retire yet and wanted to have her own show, with her own studio. So she created a new studio, Lucille Ball Productions, and decided to create a new show, which was really very similar to her previous one, except now she had two teenagers at home, and played by her own teenage children in real life. As previously mentioned, it ran for six seasons, when Ball decided that she was ready to retire from the grind weekly TV series. Now, all six of the seasons are available on DVD, in one set.
We have previously reviewed all six seasons of the series, and it would be redundant (and take a very long time) to go through them all again. We'll reiterate here that every episode is unedited. You can read exact details of the episodes and runtimes in the original reviews:
The packaging is about the only thing that differentiates the complete series from the individual season releases of the series. Essentially, though, the packaging is exactly the same for each of the individual seasons. The only difference is that the complete series set has an outer cardboard box, with a photo of the cast on the front of the box and a description of the series on the back of the set, along with a large photo of Lucy on the side.
Menu Design and Navigation:
MPI remained consistent on the menus throughout all of these Here's Lucy sets. The main menu always gives options of Play With Introductions, Play Without Introductions, Special Features (Disc 4 in each season), and English Subtitles On/Off. After selecting one of the first two options, you get a listing of all of the episodes on the disc, as well as a Play All option. There are chapters throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
For the most part, the video and audio quality over the seasons was pretty consistent, and can really be summarized as being not perfect, but no actual problems to report either. Grain and debris are typical problems, and there are some audio level fluctuations, but I don't think anybody would be disappointed with the video and audio quality of the set. The episodes all contain English subtitles.
The special features found on this set are exactly the same as the season sets, and considering how many there were, it would take far too long to mention them all again. We'll give a brief summary of what you can expect to find instead, along with links for details for each season.
Every episode of the set has an introduction from Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz, Jr., and/or other cast and crew members from the respective episode. Usually these are about a minute or so long, but some are a few minutes. Since many of these people are very in their 80s or 90s, some of the actors and actresses providing these introductions have passed away since the first of these DVD sets were released (back in 2009, so only five years ago). That makes some of these introductions particularly special, because it was our first and last opportunity to hear what guest stars such as Peggy Rae (for example, just to name one) had to say about the series and their experiences on the series.
Another feature that can be found for each episode on each season is episode promos. These are actually syndication promos, but the actual promos for the episodes as aired in syndication are included for every single episode on the set.
Other special features that can be found throughout the seasons include Let's Talk to Lucy radio shows, which was a radio show that Lucy had in the '60s. Typically, the ones included on the set relate to a guest star that appears in an episode of the series on an individual season, so it is a nice tie in, even if the radio show was actually before the series began. You'll also find several photo galleries throughout the set, and a lot of lost video footage featuring Lucy. It should be noted that much of the lost video footage actually comes earlier years, so some of what we see here are home movies featuring Lucy and Desi, which is probably more interesting for Lucy fans.
The reviews for the individual seasons have detailed listings and descriptions of special features:
MPI truly has given us something great with their Here's Lucy releases. In fact, it isn't just Here's Lucy, because MPI has never really put out anything that was a disappointment. While this series was not one of Lucille Ball's most memorable series, it certainly held up much better in the later seasons than The Lucy Show did. This series truly is an underappreciated part of Lucy's legacy.
Now, the question that remains is whether or not fans need this set. Even though this is probably one of the best complete series sets I have ever seen, I have to (painfully) admit that fans may not necessarily need this upgrade. The set collects all of the previous season releases, which were excellent sets to begin with, into one box, and doesn't add anything. To be fair, MPI did this the right way, by making great quality season sets, and not throwing something extra into the complete series set to force fans to repurchase the set. So even if I would very strongly recommend this set to any Lucy fan (or even any sitcom fan for that matter), those who already own it have nothing to gain by purchasing the series again. If you only have one or two seasons (or none at all), then I would certainly recommend picking up this set over the individual seasons. Otherwise, it isn't really necessary.
Thanks to CBS (who did an excellent job with their Lucy properties as well) and MPI, we've managed to get all of Lucy's successful series released on DVD. Only one series, Life with Lucy (which was a short-lived series and not well-received) remains unreleased, and it would be great to see somebody out there get this one released as well. But even if that doesn't happen, I think it is great that MPI has finished up the important parts of Lucy's legacy.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/05/14
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