This was Lucille Ball’s follow-up to I Love Lucy, and the first season is, apparently, the most highly regarded one. Here Ball is a widowed mother of two, sharing her home with best friend Vivian Vance, who is a divorced mother of one. All the other members of household are, of course, faced with the disasters triggered by Lucy. I screened this set immediately after viewing its close contemporary, Petticoat Junction, and the difference between the two was instructive. There are plenty of hoary gags and situations on The Lucy Show, but there is an enormous difference between the shows thanks to the comic genius of Lucille Ball. Her energy fills each episode, her timing is spot-on, but there is also her commitment to a type of physical comedy that to this day remains pretty much the exclusive domain of male performers. Not only does she make this style her own, she grounds it in a female reality. There is a reason she was so beloved a performer, and why her work still stands up today.
Though the image is a bit soft, with features losing definition in long shots, the picture is still looking remarkably good for television from 1962-63. The black-and-white tones are very warm, and the grain, though present, is minor. There is no edge enhancement to deal with. It is, frankly, very unlikely that these episodes have ever looked better.
The soundtrack is mono (you were expecting anything else?), and it’s a very solid mono. There’s a warm tone to it, and it avoids being tinny. There isn’t too much to say beyond that, but it is always clear (again, keeping in mind the vintage here) and up to the job at hand.
Vintage Openings and Closings, and Commercials: Selecting the “Vintage” option has the shows unspool with their original broadcast beginnings, ends, and commercials (at least, insofar as they were available – “Lucy is a Referee” doesn’t have this footage).
Interview with Lucie Arnaz: (20 mins.)Ball’s daughter, who got her acting start on the series, reminisces here, and does so with plenty of wit, suggesting a genetic inheritance to senses of humour.
Interview with Jimmy Garrett: (14 mins.) Garrett played Ball’s son Jerry, and he covers how he landed the part, his first meeting with Ball, and so on.
“The Lucy Show” Vintage Merchandise: (3 mins.) Another interview with Garrett, who presents all sorts of memorabilia.
Clips from “Opening Night” Special: This was a variety show that promoted the arrival of The Lucy Show.
Vintage Network Promos.
The extras add up to a pretty complete package, and the shows look and sound fine. A very solid release.