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Paramount Studios presents
I Love Lucy: Season One, Volume Two (1951)

Oh, Ricky!
- Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball)

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: July 10, 2003

Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley
Other Stars: Frank Nelson, Philip Ober, John Emery, Jay Novello, Jerry Hausner, Lee Millar
Director: Marc Daniels

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:35m:00s
Release Date: July 02, 2002
UPC: 097368789944
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ AA-B+ A

DVD Review

During many a retrospective tribute to Lucille Ball, at some point during the finale it's more than likely your host or hostess will say something along the lines of "somewhere right now, she's making someone laugh." Even with the advent of multi-channel satellite dishes and decreased syndication for pre-1980s programming, the wacky redhead's timeless humor continues to be a mainstay on prominent cable networks across the globe. It's a testament not only to the excellent cast but also the wonderful writing staff, which effortlessly combined Ball's penchant for slapstick comedy and surrounded it with snappy atopical dialogue; only the black-and-white origins, and Eisenhower-era fashions give away the fact that this show dates back to the 1950s. I can't think of any other sitcom from that decade that comes close to being continually entertaining in these days and times.

I Love Lucy: Season One, Volume Two gathers another quartet of rib ticklers from the program's freshman year, including its first bona-fide classic (The Quiz Show) and bonus features along the lines of those included on Paramount's Volume One.

Episode 1: Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her

Caught up in an engrossing murder mystery novel, Lucy lets her imagination run wild when she misinterprets Ricky's end of a phone conversation with his agent Jerry (Jerry Hausner). Suspecting her hubby has murder on his mind, she goes to Ethel, who only adds fuel to the fire by pulling out an ace of spades while dabbling with her fortune telling cards. Originally the first episode shot for Season One's October premiere, technical gaffes during filming kept it out back until early November. But that's not to demean this outing, which has its share of belly laughs (especially the madcap livingroom sequence in which Lucy tries to avoid Ricky slipping her a mickey), but Murder ultimately underwhelms toward the finish, much like a fun high speed freeway ride when your car suddenly runs out of gas.

Despite a half-baked finish, enough guffaws to merit 3 hearts out of 5.





Episode 5: The Quiz Show

Stripped of her allowance by Ricky for going overboard with "miscellaneous" spending, Lucy is all awash in tears until Ethel convinces the "poor little thing" to try her luck on a local radio game show. Hosted by Freddie Fillmore (Frank Nelson), Females are Fabulous awards big cash prizes to housewives game enough to accept their gutsy challenges. Lucy's luck changes when picked among the studio throng and presented with the dare of the week: One of the show's male staffers will appear at her apartment posing as a long lost (and presumed dead) first husband. If she can keep up the charade in front of Ricky until the midnight hour, one thousand smackeroos are hers to keep. While Lucy nervously awaits her bogus secret hubby, Ethel chases away a scraggly bum next door who winds up sneaking into the Mertz's apartment building and knocking on Lucy's door. Mistaken for the game show representative, she has a lot of "'splainin'" to do. One of the best episodes of the debut season, chock full of laughs until the closing satin heart cues the credits; excellent support from radio/tv vet Frank Nelson (best known as the "yeeeeeesssssss?" man from The Jack Benny Program) as the smarmy game show host, John Emery as Lucy's instant ex, and Lee Millar as the Fabulous studio audience applause wrangler (and quite possibly the only participant in Lucy history besides Harpo Marx to get laughs without uttering a word).

Arguably the series' first classic episode, a five heart winner.





Episode 6: The Audition

Fred brings word to Ricky that television network big shots are to be in attendance for his next engagement at the Tropicana. Covering his tracks, Ricky sends Lucy off on an errand to drop off legal documents at their lawyer's office. Meanwhile, Ricardo's back-up band goes through intense rehearsals that grind to a halt when support act Buffo The Clown takes a tumble from his bicycle. Advised by Ricky to nurse his wounds back at the apartment, Buffo takes him up on his hospitality, only to let word slip to an early returning Lucy, who again finds a way to get in on the act. If this plotline reeks of déjà vu, you're a charter Lucy-phile who knows Audition is a re-worked version of the series' original pilot episode (contained on Season One, Volume One). Although there's a slight sense of going through the motions during the episode's main set piece (which the couple performed many times during nightclub engagements prior to the series), the proceedings are enlivened by Arnaz's thrilling, no holds barred performance of his classic Babalu (the man could beat those conga drums like Led Zeppelin's John Bonham could solo on Moby Dick)and Ball's hilariously securing a wobbly stringed instrument. Students of I Love Lucy history will have a good chuckle when spotting series creator Jess Oppenheimer in a quick cameo as one of the three straight-faced network executives (Chapter 6; 14:43) along with then-CBS Vice President Harry Ackerman, and network supervisor Hal Hudson.

Relax, kids! You've already passed The Audition; 4 hearts.





Episode 7: The Séance

Although Lucy is keen on her new hobby of numerology, Ricky dismisses it as sheer nonsense (or in his accent, "nun cents"). Nevertheless, she advises hubby dear that the stars are in alignment for good deals to be made, especially since a big name producer and Ricky are in talks for a potentially lucrative project. After departing, Lucy finds that the daily horoscope in the morning paper she used in consulting him is outdated. Grabbing the current edition and finding a grim astrological forecast, she answers a phone call intended for Ricky and unleashes a series of "no's" to the party on the other end. Mere seconds after hanging up, Ricky returns to the digs asking if Mr. Meriweather has called. Upon learning of Lucy's big boo-boo, he promptly escorts her to Meriweather's office where she finds a kindred soul in numbers and superstitions, as the bigwig wishes he could talk to his dear departed wife in the great beyond. Anxious to make a good impression, Lucy hatches a plan with Ethel to make Meriweather's dream somewhat of a reality. Little do they know of similar plotting by Fred and Ricky along the same lines, setting the stage for a potential train wreck of a séance. Comparable to the Murder episode above, this is another case of an installment that doesn't quite live up to its potential. Still, Jay Novello is a hoot as the quirky showbiz impresario and Vance's gypsy incarnation gave her a chance to break out of Ethel mode with impressive results.

Gazing into my crystal ball, I see a 3.5 heart rating.







Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: On a par with Season One, Volume One, but a couple of less than stellar moments in the quality department keep the disc from achieving the same grade as its predecessor. Slightly noticeable debris on the center camera angle in the second act of The Séance can't help but draw attention to itself, while a less than pristine visual in the opening minutes of The Audition will cause double takes (more on the latter in the supplemental overview below). These extremely minor nitpicks aside, another beautiful set of transfers.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Although slightly fidelity-challenged, the 2.0 mono tracks sound very good for their age, although I would've preferred a little more bottom end.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 3 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Series Original Opening; Flubs
  2. Special Footage
  3. Radio Shows
  4. Guest Cast Information
  5. Behind The Scenes
Extras Review: Much along the lines of what supplemented the first batch of episodes, a grab bag of audio/visual goodies aimed at the true fans.

Radio Shows: Two episodes of the My Favorite Husband radio show that went on to inspire The Séance and The Quiz Show.

Flubs: The disc producers have fun with Desi-related continuity errors taken from the Murder episode, but I spotted one they didn't include: A quick peek at the bedroom set from the living room camera angle (Chapter 5; 18:09).

Original Footage: A hodgepodge of snipped or added material (depending on the circumstances) for syndication/repeat broadcasts (including a brief scene involving a pack of Philip Morris Cigarettes in The Audition that's a cross between an in-joke and subliminal plug; awkwardly removed from later broadcasts, the producers re-inserted it to the episode for DVD release, for which I'm sure fans like me are appreciative, even if the source material is less than pristine).

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Like an famous potato chip commercial, you can't stop at just one I Love Lucy DVD. Season One, Volume Two continues the release of a storybook opening stanza with even more classic episodes yet to come.

 


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