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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Paramount Home Video presents
I Love Lucy: The Complete Sixth Season (1956-57)

Lucy: I don't think that's very nice, making fun of my Spanish.
Ricky: Well, you've been making fun of my English for 15 years!
Lucy: Well, that's different. Spanish is a foreign language.
Ricky: Well, English is a foreign language to me.
Lucy: Well, the way you speak it, it is to me, too!

- Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: August 10, 2006

Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley
Other Stars: Bob Hope, Orson Welles, George Reeves, Elsa Lanchester, Doris Singleton, Keith Thibodeaux
Director: William Asher, James V. Kern

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: approx. 11h:30m:00s
Release Date: May 02, 2006
UPC: 097368809246
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-AB A

DVD Review

Sooner or later, it happens to every sitcom. Story arcs run their course, idea wells dry up, and the freshness that once distinguished the show begins to go stale. Even classic comedies like I Love Lucy suffer from the malaise, which usually signals the beginning of the end for the series. Of course, a crumbling high-profile marriage doesn't help matters, and in the case of Lucy, the off-stage domestic problems of Mr. and Mrs. Desi Arnaz—more than weak scripts and banal plots—helped seal the program's fate.

The sixth season would prove to be I Love Lucy's last, yet the show still consistently produces its trademark brand of slapstick humor, as Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel bumble and scheme their way into all sorts of wild predicaments. The storyline, however, pales when compared to previous years, and how could it not? Madcap adventures in Hollywood and Europe—not to mention the blockbuster birth of Little Ricky—were tough acts to follow, and as preparations for Season Six began, the writers found themselves at a crossroads. And the fork they chose sent the Ricardo clan packing again.

For a while, Madelyn Pugh, Bob Carroll, Jr., Bob Schiller, and Bob Weiskopf allowed Lucy and Ricky to resume their "humdrum" lives in their Upper East Side brownstone, but about halfway through Season Six, the series' scribes made them trade their Manhattan apartment for the fresh air and greenery of suburbia, transplanting the couple and their young son to a plush Connecticut home where they could comically tackle the myriad problems that often plague city slickers when they move to the "country." Lucy especially is a fish out of water—though certainly not to the off-the-wall degree of Lisa Douglas in Green Acres (which was still a few years down the pike)—and it's fun to watch her deal with various domestic and social issues. No one can take mundane tasks and situations and turn them into comic tour de forces like Lucy, and in upper-crust Fairfield County she's given ample opportunity to flex her well-toned slapstick muscles—especially when she rehearses a vigorous tango routine with Ricky with two dozen eggs packed into her blouse.

Other highlights include a trip to Cuba to visit Ricky's relatives, a winter vacation in Florida, and Lucy's (very) close encounter with a loving cup. Of course, guest stars were always an integral part of the show, and Lucy lassoed some big names for Season Six. The starstruck redhead goes to her usual madcap extremes to meet Bob Hope at a baseball game, and brushes up on her Shakespeare in an attempt to share the stage with Orson Welles when he makes a special appearance at Ricky's nightclub (now renamed the Club Babalu). Such cameos perk up selected episodes, but Lucy always does her best work solo, and delivers solid laughs building a backyard barbecue (and losing her wedding ring in the process), tending a flock of baby chicks, tossing dough in a pizzeria, riding a runaway lawnmower, and masquerading as Superman for Little Ricky's birthday party. (George Reeves reprises his role as the beefy Man of Steel, and rescues Lucy from the ledge outside her apartment.)

Although Lucy would remain a network TV presence for almost two more decades—and her subsequent series, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy would produce a slew of sparkling moments—the lovable comedienne could never duplicate the magic (or chemistry) of her initial small screen venture. More than any other sitcom, I Love Lucy defined and molded the genre, and the fact that it's never been out of circulation for a half century—a half century!—is a testament to its quality, durability, and universal appeal. Season Six may not be the series' best, but it's still a rollicking good time, and gives us one more chance to revel in Lucille Ball's supreme talent, and savor one of television's funniest shows.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Since it began releasing I Love Lucy on DVD three years ago, Paramount has treated the series with tender loving care, meticulously restoring each and every episode, and this final season set continues that commitment to quality. Looking at these pristine shows, it's hard to believe they were produced 50 years ago. Clarity and contrast are excellent, thanks to a wide-ranging gray scale that adds depth and texture to the image. Blacks are rich and inky as well, and only a few errant nicks and scratches remind us of the program's age. Such vivid, glorious transfers make it easy to love Lucy and watch these timeless comedic gems over and over again.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanish (on selected episodes)yes


Audio Transfer Review: I Love Lucy may look brand spanking new, but it still sounds like a 1950s show. Although Paramount's technicians have worked hard to erase any pops and crackles and minimize distortion, they can only do so much to mask the limitations of the era's primitive recording equipment. A hollowness of tone and occasional shrill quality (noted in my reviews of previous season collections) still hamper the track, but never detract from one's enjoyment of Lucy's antics. Arnaz's Cuban crooning always sounds robust, as does the lively Club Babalu orchestra.

Spanish language tracks are included on many, but not all, episodes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 183 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Production Notes
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by actor Keith Thibodeaux, actress Doris Singleton, actor Steve Kay; writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Schiller; actress Barbara Eden
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 1956 Christmas show
  2. Flubs
    Lost Scenes
  3. Restored music
    Original series openings
    Original animation
  4. Bob Hope Chevy Show sketch highlights
  5. Original cast commercials
    Promotional spot
    Colorized Christmas show scenes
    Four episodes of Lucy's radio show, My Favorite Husband
Extras Review: Paramount has always pumped its I Love Lucy collections chock full of entertaining extras, and this last set continues the tradition, with one notable addition. At last, a few audio commentaries grace selected episodes, and provide priceless insight and reflection from a handful of people who worked on the series. First up are actors Keith Thibodeaux (Little Ricky), Doris Singleton (friend and rival Caroline Appleby), and Steve Kay (Carolyn's son, Stevie Appleby), all of whom express their admiration for Lucy's physical comedy prowess. Thibodeaux, however, supplies the most interesting nuggets, as he recounts how he was cast on the show, how Lucy cultivated the idea of family on the set, and how I Love Lucy is like an heirloom that continues to be passed down from generation to generation. Writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Schiller discuss the fine points of comedy during their commentary, and appreciate how Lucy always credited them whenever she spoke about her series' success. They also marvel at Lucy's impeccable preparation (which eliminated any need for retakes), and praise the "underappreciated" Arnaz. Finally, actress Barbara Eden chimes in on the Country Club Dance episode, in which she appeared as a sexy siren á la Marilyn Monroe. Only 23 at the time and in one of her first TV roles, Eden recalls being "scared to death" at the prospect of appearing with Lucy, but the star's generosity put her immediately at ease. Eden doesn't gab as much as one might like, but contributes a few good tidbits, noting that Vivian Vance and William Frawley didn't get along very well, and describing the differences between I Love Lucy and her own hit sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, which would premiere eight years later.

The rest of the supplements will be familiar to those who have purchased previous Lucy seasons, but they remain welcome and informative additions. Plenty of flubs; a few lost scenes; a rare 1951 promotional spot; restored music and opening animated sequences; guest cast info (including in-depth bios of the episode commentators); four episodes of Lucy's radio show, My Favorite Husband; selected commercials for such products as Sanka coffee, Ford automobiles, and Lilt hair products featuring Ball, Arnaz, Vance, and Frawley; and interactive production notes are among the goodies included in the set. Of special note are highlights from Bob Hope's 1956 NBC Chevrolet Special, in which Lucy, Desi, and Vivian Vance appeared, and colorized sequences from the 1956 I Love Lucy Christmas show.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

All good things must come to an end, but thanks to these marvelously restored discs, I Love Lucy can run in perpetuity in our living rooms, forever delighting audiences of all ages and proving time and again why it's regarded as one television's premier comedies. The sixth season may falter a bit, but it contains enough classic moments and belly-laughs to make the set an essential purchase for fans of both Lucy and classic TV. Recommended.

 


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