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Everything posted by Neil

  1. When CBS added The Lucy Show to their morning sitcom line up in the fall of 1968 (9am Pacific time), they started with the 2nd season, aired for the first time in color.. I was in school and left my (audio) tape recorder running through "Captain Kangaroo" (8-9am). My mother was not one to watch TV during the day but I remember her telling me she walked through the TV room and noticed Lucy's red hair in COLOR. I knew that Lucy didn't start airing color episodes until season 4. It was years before I found out about the 2nd and 3rd being shot in color but aired in b/w because of Bill Paley's color-STUBBORNESS. CBS was able to air color, pre-1965 because they showed Wizard of Oz annually. In 1965, most (but not all) of the network shows were shot in color. I don't know the percentage of color TVs in use but the number increased post-1965. It was stupid of CBS to refuse to air the episodes in color because it would have been a draw. I've said this many times before but it was a strange (as in different) experience listening to all those early Lucy Shows without the visuals. The 1963 Lucy Show was completely different from the 1968 episodes.
  2. Re: Harrison's post "a sea of VCR Plus+ codes for people who wanted to program their VHS recorders." I did not know ANYBODY who used this to record shows but various TV listings dutifully included them. "The Lucy Show" has never gotten much respect. "Good Skate" is pretty good for a post Bob-Madelyn episode but I like mainly to marvel at Lucy's physical agility rather than the laughs, though there are some. I don't know who chose "Frankie Avalon" as 1/2 of the Here's Lucys they aired. I wonder, without the high profile glare of the attention of Lucy's big return to TV, if 10 years had been kind to "One Good Grandparent". As I'm sure you all know, a batch of Lucy Shows from previous seasons aired during the summer hiatus between TLS and HL. CBS repeated most of these each summer through 1971 instead of rerunning that season's HLs. The big mystery to me is why CBS didn't take the opportunity to run 2nd season episodes. These did not look dated and it would have been the first time they aired in prime time in color. Instead the chosen episodes were mostly guest star episodes from the Hollywood stretch. As I recall there was only one episode originally aired in b/w: 3rd season's "Mechanical Man". Not bad but most of the 2nd season's were much better.
  3. I can't get my photo bucket app to work anymore. Otherwise I'd be posting pictures. Lucy Day footprint related: The John Wayne shows are two of my favorites. About as overtly larcenous as Lucy ever got. And contains my favorite Ethel/Fred exchange. Fred (focusing camera) Ethel, look at me and smile. Ethel: Make up your mind. I can't do both.
  4. "Special Guest Star" Cloris as Phyllis dominated every Mary Tyler Moore scene she was in. I wonder how much of the Phyllis character resulted from the writers picking up on what Cloris could do. On paper, Phyllis would seem to be a subordinate character. She made only 34 MTMs spread out over the first 5 years of the show. It's hard to imagine anyone else as Phyllis Lindstrom. There was only one season 73-74 in which Rhoda, Phyllis, Georgette and Sue Ann all appeared. (I think) For the record The Mary Tyler Moore Show"''s end of year rankings for the 7 seasons are #22, #10 (tied with Here's Lucy!), #7, #8, #11, #19 and down to #35 for its 7th and final season. The third of 3 CBS comedies that started at 8:30 with the waning "My Three Sons", then the forgotten "Arnie" before Mary at 9:30. It was up against the 2nd half-hour of NBC's Saturday movie and "The Most Deadly Game" on ABC. Of all the Saturday night shows, only Mary and My Three Sons made the top 30. CBS didn't have much faith in MTM considering the time slot given. Eventually MTM moved from 9:30 to 9:00. During its last season, it was moved Saturday at 8:00 and we all know what a jinxed time slot that is for a sitcom.
  5. After seeing "Wildcat" in January of 1961 a Rob Miller of Providence RI wrote this letter-to-editor of Newsweek magazine: " I have a suggestion to make to Miss Lucille Ball: Next time you decide to do a broadway show, hire the unheralded writers of I Love Lucy. They’d do a better job with Wildcat than author N. Richard Nash.".
  6. Though she worked steadily through the years, she was 44 when the general public was aware of her. She simultaneously got an Oscar for Last Picture Show and joined MTM in 1970. The rapid rise and fall of "Phyllis" is an interesting historical note. "Phyllis" rated #6 in its first season, ahead of Rhoda #7 and Mary Tyler Moore trailing at #19. The next season 76-77 saw a decided shift in viewer preferences (according to Nielsen). All three MTM shows fell out of the top 30. Phyllis fell so far it was cancelled. Scored a marginally acceptable #40. Rhoda and Phyllis were up against the new and very popular "Little House on Prairie". Phyllis weathered the loss of Barbara Colby in season 1. The quick replacement Liz Torres was not the same. Phyllis's workplace changed in season 2 so Liz was out. Judith Lowry as Mother Dexter was a great addition. Unfortunately after filming the wonderful "Gets Married" 2-parter, she died suddenly before it aired. The always old as such "ageless" Bert Mustin followed soon. But what a great way to go. Jane Fonda is now only a year younger than Mother Dexter in season 1! Ain't that a kick in the pants?!!
  7. I'm also fascinated with "Lucy Day". What a schedule they put her through! She held up under the oppressive humidity and heat, so humid that despite the heat it rained at one time. Thanks to the bonus material on one of the DVDs (Here's Lucy?) we got to see all the footage they could find. And yeah, where IS that slab of cement now?
  8. "Jim Nabors" is a rather odd offering. But there's hope we'll get a look at some other obscure series in the future. The market I lived in did not run "The Jim Nabors Talk Show". My wishlist includes "Pete & Gladys" and "Glynis". When CBS ran I Love Lucy in the morning from 1959 to 1966, they did edits to allow for more commercials. The show was divided into 4 acts instead of 2. When it was beamed, I'm wondering whether they still ran the 35mm film through a telecine device or whether the shows were transferred to 2" videotape, the only tape format available at the time (as far as I know). CBS reran the 78 Pete & Gladys episodes for 2 years, mainly (I think) because they had ownership in the show. All of their other daytime offerings over the years were prime time ratings hits.
  9. I'm going through my Lucy memorabilia boxes from my attic, sorting out the few things I want to keep and it's a laborious process. I can't believe the stuff I saved (and DIDN'T save). One blast from the past: The log I printed up for a rare Lucy tape I gave away. Backstory: As a kid, I had my reel tape recorder set up by TV to catch anything Lucy. I caught most of Lucy's variety show appearances from about 1968 on. I compiled them into one cassette and put an ad in Tom's Lucy Fan Magazine, probably about 1984 or 1985. For $3 (which just covered the postage and blank cassette, mind you), I offered to send one to anyone interested. The response was overwhelming! You youngsters have to remember that at this time VHS was only about 5 years old. I don't know that Columbia House had started their 3-episode I Love Lucy VHS subscription yet. DVDs: that was way into the future. These variety show guest spots were only aired once (in all but one case) so the recordings were rare indeed, not something we EVER thought we'd see again. Since then, most of the clips have come out as DVD extras (TLS,HL producers: THANK YOU!) or are available on youtube. As far as I'm aware only 2 of the selections have never come out are: Lucy and Carol singing "I Remember it Well" from the 1968 Emmys (with intro sung by Frank Sinatra). Lyrics were tailored to the commemoration of "20 years of television". Carol "I remember the 12 inch screen". Lucy: "we were so impressed" Carol: "Bishop Fulton Sheen" Lucy "you mean Father Knows Best?"...you get the idea. The other is the audio from a Mike Douglas Show in 1968, in which Lucy was a surprised guest...AND a little later Vivian was too. A pictorial of this was featured in TV Guide. I almost didn't tape it. TV Guide listed Lucy as guest but when the opening credits listed that day's roster of guests, there was no mention of her because of the surprise element. A sister act had just finished their number and Mike, reading from cue cards, introduced an older sister and much to his surprise out pops Lucy! Ozzie & Harriet were Mike's co-hosts for that week. My recording catches the interview in progress with Lucy saying, in answer to a question from Mike, "I think there were 5 years of I Love Lucy. But I could be wrong, there may have been 10." And "next year I'm having another change of format: my kids are grown and I'm putting them on." looking to audience "I hope they approve". The audience dutifully applauds. During the course of the interview, the camera shows a series of stills from her shows with Lucy doing commentary. Very entertaining The last still was Lucy on stilts. Mike, again reading from cue cards, says "we have a lady backstage who is a champion stilt walker. Would you like to meet her?". Lucy responds with an enthusiastic "Indeed I would!!" (Would you... really???) The curtain parts and we see Viv from the rear (in her knit suit?) trying to mount stilts. It's a great show. As far as I know, the video of this Douglas show has not been found. I think Mike's show originated from Philadelphia so copping both Lucy and Viv as surprise guests must have been quite the undertaking. The girls do "Friendship". Lucy has to be cajoled to do it "I can't sing!!" and proves it by hitting a few clinkers! Lucy is very relaxed in her interview and is obviously thrilled to see Viv. There is one (of many) VERY interesting moment. Mike asks the panel "I was asked by a college student about where we are going with this medium and I couldn't answer. I'm sure you four can (L&V, O&H)." There's an awkward pause. Everyone stammers until Viv jokes "Personally? ... I went to Santa Fe with it".... but then Lucy pipes in with a very authoritarian opinion, which in retrospect actually makes little sense including "If they want to say it's for education, that's fine with me. Unfortunately they put the education shows on Sunday afternoons when you should be out with the dogs and the kids" (in that order?). For the record, the other selections on the tape: 3 Carol Burnett numbers (Boys in Backroom, Good Man is Hard to Find & Rock Sisters), Dinah Shore's Like Hep, "Man Around the House/Cleo" from Jack Benny special, Shirley's Bouncing Back for More, Autograph Ann (Margaret) and Celebrity Lu, Lucy's military-themed song and dance from Pearl Bailey's short-lived variety show and Lucy winning her 1967 (my version has presenters Carl Reiner and Barbara Eden reading list of 4 nominees). It was a LONG time before we got to see these again---probably 2 decades. Naive dolt that I am, I didn't realize I should have saved these to use later as barter for trading rarities with other collectors. By the time I figured out we were not all one big happy family who practiced "sharezees", I had already given my unique recordings away.
  10. In earlier Seinfeld episodes, Kramer would get the same "Hi I'm Larry" applause. Subsequently, they either warned the audience not to or cut it out. Because of set/costume changes, there would be instances where enough time had gone by between scenes that Lucy and/or Gale would get entrance applause in each scene.
  11. No it never was. Strange I think, because a TV version might have recouped most of the production cost, fronted by Desilu.
  12. That would have been a GREAT idea. I have nothing specific to back this up but I always got the impression that Lucy & Preston didn't see "eye to eye" during Mame. In Mame interviews, I don't ever remember her mentioning him.
  13. I believe I can now say "I've seen everythin', brudder!" I wonder if the audience knew they were listening to the golden vocals of one Lucille Ball.
  14. You may be right. There can be only one star of a Lucy series, as it should be. "Horse Guest" is a pleasant enough entry. Memorable mainly for Frawley's cameo. You have to overlook a lot of plot holes. Such as: how did they get the horse into the Glenhall apartments since Lucy is on at least the 2nd floor if she's got that old crank Mrs. Golddapper living below her. Ann adds a lot to every episode she appeared in. Being a weekly regular probably wouldn't have worked out but I don't know why the 3-4 guest shots a year didn't continue. I think My Mother the Car was the next season but that didn't take much of her time. Speaking of MMTC: I recently bought a batch of Chicago TV Times from the mid-60s. The "Mailbag" column has some interesting, if dumb questions. Looking them over, I don't think they are supposed to be jokes. Someone wrote in:" In My Mother the Car, is Ann Sothern saying her lines from the trunk?". The answer only addresses the fact that this particular car doesn't have a trunk. Other questions "How does Samantha on Bewitched perform her magic?" "Does Mr. Ed actually speak the English language?" and "On the Patty Duke Show, are Patty & Cathy played by the same actress?" . Mailbag answer: yes. My answer: watch the opening credits, you moron! Also notable about "Horse", Herb Vigran gets entrance applause which I'm sure pleased him.
  15. Continuing through my boxes of Lucy clippings, I came across all the Mame reviews I collected. Local papers were for the most part pretty positive; or at least positive-ISH. Seattle headline "Lucille Ball Isn't Mame" sub-headline: "But She is Funny!". Sub-sub "And Bea Arthur is even funnier". People today seem to delight quoting the most savage reviews. Milton Krims in Saturday Evening Post, a magazine with a still-large circulation, was thrilled with the movie and Lucy in particular. Having seen many Mames,(play and musical) he proclaims Lucy the best ever. His review, if ever mentioned, is dismissed as "a breathless paean".
  16. I'm going through my big boxes of Lucy clippings and getting rid of a bunch. I happened upon this article from April 1987 when the first 2-hr. We Love Lucy aired hosted by Lucie and Danny Thomas. The show crammed Talullah, Danny Thomas and Milton Berle into the 2-hrs--less commercials and Lucie-Danny banter so they had to cut a lot. I remember they cut the whole "Queen's Lament" rehearsal scene which made the gags they set up for the actual performance less effective. BUT I believe they reinstated the dinner table strawberry allergy reference...from 16mm footage. (if my memory is accurate). Headline: "Lucy: forever funny, as special attests" It's mostly positive with the reviewer citing Lucy's "Makes Room for" courtroom scene pantomiming with laryngitis as a highlight. But there was this snarky comment "Note now that the gags aren't that great: they never were. Much of the comic writing now sounds clunky and leaden. Frawley calls Thomas "banana nose" and he responds with "blubber face". Maybe you had to be there in 1958 to think this was screamingly funny." Harumph... If you take Cheers and Golden Girls out of the running, what comedy writing was actually funny in 1987? "Who's the Boss?" ? "Webster?"...maybe. I didn't watch them. But it's cool that rerunning these, then 30 year old episodes got media attention. There were 2 more We Love Lucys, each with 3 condensed episodes, for a total of 9 of the hours. I'm not sure which 4 they left out.
  17. Correction: the smaller print above this reads "A New Novel From the ..." Reminds me of the time I bought a 99 cent My Fair Lady album that said in big print LOLA FISHER AND (next legible line) THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST, without noting the VERY small print line in between "members of". Lola is better known to us as "Franchise Fiasco"'s Bunny Westcott. You should have seen the look on her face when a certain teenager told her he had her album! (wish I still did).
  18. Queen of Tuesday "Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award"
  19. You get used to it. When I put the TV to the correct 4:3 aspect ratio now, everyone looks too thin!
  20. Me-TV is running the early My 3 Sons episodes and I can now see why it caught on. William Frawley WAS the show. Apparently Bill was originally intended to be the star. And he is. In the few episodes I've seen, Fred MacMurray isn't particularly engaging or even necessary. Frawley could have carried the show as the only adult. There was an episode called "The Toupee". "Bub" is meeting up with a lady he's been corresponding with and is trying unsuccessfully to grow hair. Chip uses his allowance money to buy Bub a mail-order toupee. It looks ridiculous but Bub wears it because of his appreciation for Chip's sacrifice. Everyone gets a big laugh at the sight of Bub with his pompadour hair---including MacMurray who's sporting a rug of his own! So this episode had everything a comedy (especially of that era) should have: laughs (thanks to Bill) and heart (thanks to Bill and Chip). I'm not familiar enough with the series to know if the Demerest episodes were any good.
  21. I think YOU should write the letter. My arguments will descend into Mrs. McGillicuddy "Oh, POOH!" and "HA!" Why is it that "Wildcat" has gradually gained the status as a "flop" over the years? There are many reasons Lucy dropped out after 6 months (8 if you count the Philadelphia out of town run) but lack of attendance or interest didn't figure into it. I can't remember which Lucy biography it was but when it came to the Wildcat chapter, it took a negative slant and quoted reviews. I went back and looked at the full text of the 7 * New York newspapers and the biography author cherry-picked the negative and left out anything that was praised. This is how these things morph into "facts". I got into a "friendly" back-and-forth with someone on Facebook about it who stated something like "it was a disaster and it was Lucy's fault". Them's fightin' words! The reviews as a whole can be summed up with "loved Lucy; hated the book (script)". Writer N. Richard Nash may have had some other great works but Wildcat is not among them. In fact, Wildcat has the same general concept as his big hit "Rainmaker". A stranger comes to town, promises are made, and the final curtain douses the cast with liquid (one ends up wet, the other greasy). Even an accomplished writer can have a dud. Lucy has been criticized (in revisionism) for inserting Lucy-isms but when the audience is bored with the goings-on, what else is a performer to do? N objected to the changes and years later complained that his concept was highjacked. I say "O, N shut your M". They didn't highjack it enough. N was lucky to have a star of Lucy's caliber interested in his work. *yes, can you believe in 1960, New York City had SEVEN major newspapers.
  22. The Denver Pyle syndrome.....he was 2 years older than "daughter" Doris Day
  23. From the new book "Dolls Dolls Dolls" about the making of the movie Valley of the Dolls. In the section about casting Helen Lawson (eventually played by Susan Hayward), it states: (CAPS are mine) "In January, Lucille Ball SHOULDERED in (??), VAULTING herself to the top of the list of contenders. The moviemakers sparked to that idea: signing Ball to that role would not only be a shocker but a publicity windfall. Ball--with her singing voice dubbed * of course--certainly could have been a revelation. On December 24th national syndicated columnist Alex Freeman reported that Ball was committed to the project as long as the script could be "padded a little to make it an even more important part". Apparently Ball wanted more than a little padding so the moviemakers kept dangling the carrot before Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and BETTY HUTTON (??)".....(then they signed Judy Garland and....well I assume you know the story) I find it hard to believe that Lucy would consider appearing in such a movie but wouldn't THAT have been interesting? Especially considering who her co-star would have been. *With just a slight tweak, I can see/hear Margaret Whiting dubbing for Lucy and it sounding like the real thing.
  24. Add my tith to the list of those that RR puts on etch. People keep sending them to me figuring they're right up my alley. I actually think his lyrics can be clever but there's such a thing as being TOO cute.
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