TITLE: THE LUCY SHOW - THE OFFICIAL FIFTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011 (CBS Home Entertainment)
Color / 1966-1967
Packaging: Viva Pack
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 562 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: Approx. 30 minutes
Subtitles and Captions: English Subtitles
Special Features: "Lucy in London" Prime-Time Special; "Lucy in London Revisited" Documentary; Clip from 1967 Emmy® Awards; Clip from 1966 Affiliates Presentation; Clip from Victor Borge Comedy Theatre; 25 Years of Saving Bonds; Bloopers; Rare Promos; Vintage Openings and Closings; Guest Cast Biographies; Production Notes; Photo Galleries
The Lucy Show is back for a fifth season in The Lucy Show - The Official Fifth Season! Lucille Ball's second major series on CBS features Ball as Lucy Carmichael, a bank secretary, and Mr. Mooney (Gale Gordon) as her boss at the bank. By now, the series has evolved into something much different than where it started. Originally a series about a widow and a divorcee living together with their kids in a small town in New York, now Lucy is living in California where she is constantly star struck, with emphasis on CONSTANTLY. Whether it is John Wayne or Sheldon Leonard, or any other star, Lucy is constantly running into stars now, along with creating more chaos for Mr. Mooney. Now, you can get all 22 episodes of the next-to-last season of this series on a four disc DVD set.
The season begins with "Lucy and George Burns," where a special guest star (any guesses as to who it is?) shows up at the bank and asks Lucy to join him in his comedy show. Mr. Mooney gets called into duty for the Naval Reserves in "Lucy and the Submarine," but an unwanted guest accidentally tags along. In "Lucy, the Bean Queen," Lucy comes up with the perfect scheme to raise money for new furniture, by taking advantage of a "double-your-money-back" guarantee. Lucy misplaces Paul Winchell's dummies in "Lucy and Paul Winchell," so where will he find a dummy to fill in for the missing dummies? In "Lucy and the Ring-a-Ding Ring," Lucy is allowed to try on a ring that Mr. Mooney bought for his wife, but what'll he do when she can't take it off? Lucy wins a trip to London in "Lucy Flies to London," but she runs into somebody who really doesn't care to see her on a commuter flight to New York.
Carol Burnett makes her first appearance in the series as Lucy's new roommate in "Lucy Gets a Roommate." In "Lucy and Carol in Palm Springs," Lucy is in a bind when she decides to play hooky. "Lou C. Carmichael" has been drafted into the military in "Lucy Gets Caught in the Draft," and until the paperwork is corrected, it looks like Lucy will be in training! Lucy interferes with John Wayne's latest production in "Lucy and John Wayne."
Lucy's attempt to cure Mr. Mooney's insomnia has bad post-hypnotic repercussions in "Lucy and Pat Collins." A trained monkey has been left in Mr. Mooney's office in "Mooney, the Monkey," but Lucy thinks that she has just gone crazy. Lucy becomes a partner in crime with an efficiency expert in "Lucy and the Efficiency Expert." In "Lucy's Substitute Secretary," Lucy is going on a vacation, but the plans go all wrong when she realizes that her temporary replacement may have eyes on Lucy's job! Vivian Vance makes a special guest appearance in "Viv Visits Lucy." In "Lucy, the Baby Sitter," Mr. Mooney convinces Lucy to seek a job using a "unique employment agency" in "Lucy, the Baby Sitter," but a babysitting job turns out to be much different than what Lucy expected.
Lucy and Mr. Mooney do what they can to save the main street of a small town in the two-part episodes "Main Street, U.S.A." and "Lucy Puts Main Street on the Map." Lucy gets arrested in "Lucy Meets the Law," but the reason isn't at all what she thinks it is. In "Lucy, the Fight Manager," Lucy convinces a local florist deliveryman and retired boxer to enter the ring one more time to earn cash. Lucy tries to convince a wealthy country music singer named Henry Higgins (guest star Tennessee Ernie Ford) to open a bank account when Mr. Mooney's job is at stake in "Lucy and Tennessee Ernie Ford." The season ends with "Lucy Meets Sheldon Leonard," where Lucy believes a bank-heist movie scene shot (with Sheldon Leonard, of course) at the bank is real!
The episodes are mostly unedited, but NOT the episode "Lucy and Pat Collins." I was a little suspicious about the runtime, which is about a minute shorter than all of the other episodes, and then I realized that the particular episode has been released on numerous public domain DVD releases, and I have copies of those. So I decided to check out one of those releases to compare the runtime on one of those sets, and low and behold, on the public domain release, the same episode was a minute longer than the version seen on this set! The culprit? Some musical cues were chopped from the episode. I seriously doubt that this would have been a difficult issue for CBS to overcome, and it is very unfortunate that they had to do this. To see one of the cues specifically, check out this link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvtUgmoL1NQ#t=10m16s)
of a copy of the episode from YouTube (this is a public domain version, so this isn't an "illegal" copy). The video is cued to a specific musical cue that is edited out on this DVD set, and it is just one of several. It really isn't a huge deal, but personally, I think that it is taking music editing a bit too far when something that could probably easily be overcome and just chopping it out, essentially ruining what has (up until now, at least as far as I know) completely unedited sets. Runtimes for all of the episodes are as follows.
1. "Lucy and George Burns" (25:37)
2. "Lucy and the Submarine" (25:40)
3. "Lucy, the Bean Queen" (25:36)
4. "Lucy and Paul Winchell" (25:36)
5. "Lucy and the Ring-a-Ding Ring" (25:36)
6. "Lucy Flies to London" (25:30)
7. "Lucy Gets a Roommate" (25:34)
8. "Lucy and Carol in Palm Springs" (25:38)
9. "Lucy Gets Caught in the Draft" (25:37)
10. "Lucy and John Wayne" (25:37)
11. "Lucy and Pat Collins" (24:21)
12. "Mooney, the Monkey" (25:37)
13. "Lucy and the Efficiency Expert" (25:36)
14. "Lucy's Substitute Secretary" (25:37)
15. "Viv Visits Lucy" (25:35)
16. "Lucy, the Baby Sitter" (25:36)
17. "Main Street, U.S.A." (25:34)
18. "Lucy Puts Main Street on the Map" (25:34)
19. "Lucy Meets the Law" (25:36)
20. "Lucy, the Fight Manager" (25:36)
21. "Lucy and Tennessee Ernie Ford" (25:36)
22. "Lucy Meets Sheldon Leonard" (25:37)
The packaging on this set is exactly like the previous sets. Once again, we have a Viva case with an outer slipcase, both of which have the same artwork. The cover has a large photo of Lucy from the "Lucy and the Submarine" episode, along with several black and white photos of Lucy in different costumes next to it. On the back, there is a brief description of the season, a list of the special features included, and some episode snapshots. Inside the case, there is a printed listing of all of the episodes, along with original airdates and descriptions. The disc artwork is very basic, with the series logo on a black and white background. Disc 1 contains six episodes, Disc 2 contains four episodes, Disc 3 contains six episodes, and Disc 4 contains six episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on the set are very similar to the previous sets, with the main menu having an opening transition resembling the opening credits from this season, or at least the first half of the season (the opening credits were changed back to a version similar to the fourth season around the middle of the season). The main menu has options of Play All, Episode Selection, Special Features, and Set Up. When you select Episode Selection, you get a snapshot of all of the episodes on the disc. Upon selecting an episode, you get a submenu that gives you a choice of scenes to start the episode, along with a Set Up and Credits option. Set Up allows you to turn on the subtitles, and Credits gives you the basic production credits for the episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
Like the previous sets, the video and audio quality of the episodes looks excellent. I'm not sure how much (if any) restoration work was done on these series, but it looks like significant effort was made to clean up the episodes. Of course, there are slight issues with grain, and there is a small bit of crackle in the audio (in mono, of course), but it looks better than I've ever seen the series on TV. Once again, many of the special features look very rough, but that is to be expected, considering virtually all of them were not intended to be preserved. There are English subtitles on all of the episodes.
The set is once again LOADED with special features. We'll start with the ones that can be found on every disc. As was the case with the previous seasons, there are many original opening and closing credit sequences that can be found on each disc. These aren't nearly as numerous as they were in previous sets, mostly because there aren't as many variations, and like the fourth season, you can't watch them "reattached" to the episodes, but it is nice to know that they are there. Nearly all of them are presented in black and white, since that is the way that they were preserved.
The additional special features that can be found on each disc are pretty much all "static" features that just present information or photos on each screen, but they are very worthy of looking at. The best thing that can be found on the discs are the Production Notes. Here, you will find very detailed notes and behind the scenes information for each episode on the disc. There is a lot of information in these, and even some of the most diehard fans will likely find something that they didn't know here. Other special features that can be found on each disc are Guest Cast biographies, which give a nice, short biography of EVERY guest star featured in every episode, and the Photo Gallery, which includes publicity photos from the episodes on the disc.
On Disc 1, we have "Clip From 1956 Affiliates Presentation" (3:35) where we get to see a sketch from a 90 minute presentation given to affiliates during their annual conference in 1966 promoting the new fall season on CBS. Basically, this is just a sketch created specifically for the special prominently featuring Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon on an airplane, and plenty of sponsor placements (you'll see TWA all over the airplane). "Victor Borge Comedy Theatre" (8:28) is a sketch from a Desliu pilot, The Victor Borge Comedy Theatre, that the material from the episode "Lucy Flies to London" was based upon. This was filmed in 1962 and directed by Desi Arnaz. Unlike most sketches of this nature, the quality of this is excellent. "CBS Promo" (1:04) is just a commercial advertising the series, from the original run on CBS. Finally, "Smile Pretty" (1:33) is just a series of video clips featuring Lucille Ball making various smiles to prepare the opening credits for the season.
Disc 2 is where you'll find the special "Lucy in London" (54:17), which was one of the first Lucille Ball specials produced. This is a bit of a departure from the regular series, and is basically a very "mod" special about Lucy touring London on a motorcycle. You'll see Lucy in very rare form here! The special even includes the original sponsor tags and a promo advertising that The Lucy Show and The Andy Griffith Show will be preempted for the special. This is a very weird and unusual special, and is nothing like anything else you've ever seen Lucy in... and to be honest, I didn't enjoy it too much. Still, it was nice to see. There are a series of special features just related to this special feature, beginning with "Outtakes" (12:26), which is just silent stock footage that was not used in the actual special. But the best feature is perhaps the documentary (28:57) about the special, featuring many different TV historians. Finally, there are several production notes and photos just from this special.
Disc 3 is light on special features, but the one unique feature here is the "25 Years of Savings Bond" feature (7:34), where we get to see a film produced by the U.S. Treasury Department to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Savings Bonds, and to remind viewers of the history and purpose of savings bonds.
Finally, on Disc 4, we have "Lucy Wins an Emmy®" (2:14), where we get to see Lucille Ball win her first Emmy® for The Lucy Show (she'd previously won two for I Love Lucy) in 1967. "Bloopers" (1:31) is something that we very rarely get to see from any of Lucy's series, and is exactly what it sounds like... bloopers from the fifth season! It is a very short reel, but it was almost surreal watching these, and very fun to watch. Hopefully we'll see more in the sixth season.
All in all, this series is about as complete as it possibly could be when it comes to special features. There really isn't anything to complain about.
This is a great set, but there is one unfortunate thing to be said about this season. This was where the series really did start to change and became a bit less interesting than it had previously been. It seems that by this point, the "creative steam" had started to dissipate in the series, and the series started to lean on many very weak plots that were supported with different guest stars, many of whom aren't as well-known today as they may have been at the time. As a result, that somewhat causes many of these episodes to seem dated. But that does not imply at all that all is lost in this season. There are still many great episodes in this season, and fans of Lucy tend to love her work even in spite of some of the lower points of her series. As most fans know, the series only went on for one season after this one, and then Ball re-emerged with a brand new series (yet at the same time, somewhat of a retooling of this series) Here's Lucy, where some of the "stale points" where once again significantly freshened up. So all in all, these episodes really aren't bad at all, they just are probably among the weakest of Ball's career, which doesn't say much considering that almost all of her work was excellent quality.
As for the DVD set itself, it should come as no surprise that CBS Home Entertainment and DVD Executive Producer Thomas Watson did an excellent job on this DVD set. In fact, I feel like this set is actually a bump up from some of the previous sets, with a nice unique selection of special features that is better than the previous ones. The excised musical cues from the episode "Lucy and Pat Collins" are a bit frustrating, though they don't really take away from the whole set. It is just disappointing that they did this.
Hopefully, we will see the sixth season soon, and it'll be a really good set. It is worth noting that many (nearly all, in fact) of the episodes that are presented on this set have fallen into public domain and are available on dozens (if not hundreds) of public domain DVDs out there. If you own those, throw them away... they aren't nearly as good as this set, which is presented in top-notch quality, and put together with the best possible selection of special features. I'm anxiously awaiting the conclusion of this series on DVD, and have high hopes for a set that will once again amaze me.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 12/02/11
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