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Paul Sheehan

'I Love Lucy' Christmas special on CBS: Dec. 7, 2014

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I do believe some are over-reacting to the idea of colorization.

 

I sincerely doubt that the entire series will ever be colorized. It's so expensive to do even a single episode, that the idea of doing all 180 (plus 13 hour longs) is mind-boggling...

 

Secondly, I agree with Brian about it being sad that the original show would disapear... but I fear that there is a greater chance that it might disappear because viewers and advertisers do not want to deal with black-and-white television. I'd rather have people see colorized Lucy  than no Lucy at all...

 

I find it strange that for the past 20 years or so, fans have rushed out and spent a zillion dollars on dolls, plates, and all kinds of other merchandise that has all been colorized... (very few of these items appear in black-and-white), but when someone colorizes the show itself -- in order to give it a bigger, contemporary audience -- people balk...

 

The black-and-white originals will never disappear -- unless time itself does the damage.  The films themselves are now 50-60 years old, and despite being carefully "cared for," they are disintegrating.  CBS has been diligently transferring them to whatever new media form comes along, remastering them for future generations... But no one knows what these elements will look like 50 years from now...

 

But I stand by my earlier posts that say that while the black-and-white programs will live on in home video, little by little they are being relegated to "middle of the night" time slots on local stations and cable outlets.  Gone are the days when it aired seven nights a week opposite Walter Cronkite (and often beat Uncle Walter in the ratings).  Audiences, advertisers and stations want more modern programs -- in color -- in their prime viewing hours.   Happily, some of the local stations still air the series during the day -- I believe a local LA station still airs the show at noon -- but these instances are becoming fewer and fewer...

 

So pardon me when I am thrilled to see the show be invited back into network prime time, where it continues to earn its weight in rating points... and if the price of admission is colorization, then I am all for it...

 

Tjw

Thank you so much for stating the obvious.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHY IT BOTHERS SOME PEOPLE SO MUCH THAT THE SHOW HAS S O M E OF IT'S EPISODES COLORIZED, FOR CHRISSAKES, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM THAT WAY, JUST DON'T WATCH THEM!!!

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I agree, and feel the same way, with everything that TJW, Nertz2mertz and JoeySoCal said. You all took the words right out of my mouth, and said it better than I ever could.

 

TJW:

 

I just have a couple questions, regarding the newly colorized "Job Switching" episode.

 

1.) Why was Lucy's "Vitameatavegamin" dress colorized black, instead of blue? Did the blue not photograph well, when colorized?

 

2.) Other than the pink that was chosen for Lucy's, Ethel's and The Chocolate Dipper's uniform, we're any other colors tested? If so, what were they? I remember you said they grey-on-grey didn't look right, and neither did the whites. Do you know if any of the colors that were used for any memorabilia were tesetd? In the "I Love Lucy" collector's plate, "Eating the Evidence," their uniforms were blueish, kind of like the baker's hat Lucy wore in that color still photogtaph, from the "Visitor From Italy" episode.

 

3.) If there aren't any actual/real color reference materials to be used, for sets, props, wardrobe, do you refer to the memorabilia, and test that out, instead of just testing other colors? I'm asking thsee questions, for I'm very interested in the colorization process.

 

We did a lot of research on the various color schemes...

 

Joey: We all wanted the appliances in the kitchen to be white, but in truth the REAL appliances in the studio were sprayed down (dullened) so much that they photographed a very dull grey -- and that's what they showed up on our film... They looked awful... So we did a lot of research and discovered that early 1950s appliances came in three colors: white, yellow and pink. We all agreed that the pink would look too weird, and that left yellow, which blended nicely with what the colorists had in mind for the rest of the kitchen. 

 

I had always been TOLD that the Vitameata dress was blue, but further research told us that it was black... I had always heard that one of the ladiies in Jamestown (Pauline Lopus or Marion Van Vlack) had been sent the dress and that she had made doll clothes or something out of it... Well we checked out that story and discovered that while Lucy did indeed send that lady a blue checked dress, it WAS NOT the Vitameata dress... The check pattern was all wrong...

 

We tested all kinds of ideas for the candy factory uniforms. The original grey looked terrible... We looked at some of the merchandise that has been issued, and the image many people remembered was the pink uniforms used by Rocky Mountain Chocolates... AND it looked good on the screen (which has to be the final deciding point)...

 

One thing that we have never discussed and I am not qualified to discuss in detail -- because I am not a colorization wizard -- but even though the process allows us to colorize an image, we are not allowed to change the luminance value of that image.  That is, we cannot make an image lighter or darker. It is as it is... Hence, my note above to Joey about the white appliances... Since we cannot brighten an image, an image that was purposely photographed dark will always be dark whatever the color... So even though we tried to make the kitchen appliances bright cheerful white, they always came out dull dingy grey -- because the Desilu technicians deliberately made them that way because a bright WHITE appliance would have reflected too much light back into the cameras... (For the same reason, whites were verbotten for costumes. The only white elements were Lucy's white collars on many of her outfits. Even Desi's dress shirts were pastels -- pastel grey, cream, blue, etc. NEVER white, even when he wore a tux.  White wreaked havoc with the cameras...)

 

So.. no it is not a perfect process... But it allowed some 9 million people to enjoy Lucy's antics again last Sunday night... And the network received a lot of positive email from families who were enjoying watching the shows in a group -- something many of them had not done in recent times... One lady said how nice it was to be watching a show with her children and laughing at things that she and her husband had laughed at themselves as kids so many years ago. The show brought back a lot of wonderful memories, and created a few new ones... And that's a nice payoff for a lot of hard work...

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I was delighted to find the exclusive DVD at Target Canada today. We never get the Target "exclusives" up here, so maybe that's an encouraging sign on the distribution of this set!

 

Claude: did you find the Target set in your area?

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I think assuming that children will refuse to accept B&W is an insult to their intelligence.

 

I agree with you... But unfortunately the advertisers have the last say in the world of commercial television.  I worked for a media buying firm in the 1990s and early 2000s. Our buyers helped adverisers select which media vehicles were best for them to place their commercial messages in... The firm represented some of the biggest and most influential advertisers in the business... And no matter what our buyers recommended, MANY of the clients were adament that their commercials NOT be placed "in any black-and-white shows -- not even LUCY."  I know because everyone in the firm knew my affinity for Lucille Ball, and they told me how hard it was for them to sell the B&W shows...

 

And that was over 10 years ago... Things have only gotten worse since...

 

We may love the B&W shows, but our love alone does not pay the bills...

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tjw, on 15 Dec 2014 - 4:25 PM, said:

I agree with you... But unfortunately the advertisers have the last say in the world of commercial television.  I worked for a media buying firm in the 1990s and early 2000s. Our buyers helped adverisers select which media vehicles were best for them to place their commercial messages in... The firm represented some of the biggest and most influential advertisers in the business... And no matter what our buyers recommended, MANY of the clients were adament that their commercials NOT be placed "in any black-and-white shows -- not even LUCY."  I know because everyone in the firm knew my affinity for Lucille Ball, and they told me how hard it was for them to sell the B&W shows...

 

And that was over 10 years ago... Things have only gotten worse since...

 

We may love the B&W shows, but our love alone does not pay the bills...

 

Sigh. It's an unfortunate reality, I suppose. I'll never understand the disdain for it. High definition transfers are especially good at revealing the detail a black and white image can offer. It shows us things that color simply doesn't, sometimes. I'm thankful for networks such as TCM that air unedited, unaltered films from the era. Perhaps, someday, there can be a vintage television network of the same ilk, that can run commercial free programs from the 1950s onward, especially those that DVD seems to have left behind.

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C L A U D E, on 15 Dec 2014 - 3:45 PM, said:

Thank you so much for stating the obvious.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHY IT BOTHERS SOME PEOPLE SO MUCH THAT THE SHOW HAS S O M E OF IT'S EPISODES COLORIZED, FOR CHRISSAKES, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM THAT WAY, JUST DON'T WATCH THEM!!!

 

Temper, temper! :lucythrill:

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As you know im from s country where black and white had pretty much hone do I'm ask in favor of colorization in order to keep these shows alive. I never saw the first seasons of bewitched s they were black and white and never shown until colorized. I had never seen the black and white lucy shows until i traded with a fellow fan. Do i believe colorization is vital.

 

I buy both versions on dvd too. :)

 

I've rid to get hold of the colorized job switching episode but only being in us targets I've had no luck sadly

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TJW:

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.  It's much appreciated, and means a lot.  It's good to know that a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into these colorized episodes.  I love the whole creative process, of it all.  It's of great interest to me.  The time and effort that has gone into these really shows, and shines, in the final product.  I was happy and glad to hear a lot of your answers.  I hope you don't mind me asking questions.  Speaking of questions, I have another one.  Do you know what the original colors of the "Heart-on-Satin" opening/colsing credits were?  Were they the colors that were featured, either on the "I Love Lucy" Christmas Special DVD or Television special?  I know that wasn't the original opening of the show, and that it came later, when the shows were reran, and/or went into syndication, but was that actually filmed in color, and just shown in black and white, for the syndicated reruns?  I've seen so many incarnations of the "Heart-on-Satin," on TV and/or commercially released VHS & DVD, from the episode title cards, the first/original "I Love Lucy" Christmas Special, etc. 

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Tom might be able to confirm but this is what I heard about the original heart on satin. Apparently the satin was taken from the opening credits of Forever Darling which would make it blue.

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Regarding the above "Heart-on-Satin" screenshots, I don't think that the original "I Love Lucy" Black and White "Heart-on-Satin" and the Color "Forever Darling" "On-Satin" are the same.  However, I do think that the Color "Forever Darling" "On-Satin" are the same. The first is a screenshot of the original black and white title card, from the Ultimate Season One Blu-ray DVD.  The second one is the "Forever Darling" title-card, and the third is from the "Costume & Makeup Tests", that was an extra special bonus feature, on the Ultimate Season One Blu-ray DVD.  Those two look identical, except for the colors.  Maybe that was a much better quality, than the original, and had a better picture quality, was in a higher definition and/or wider screen.  I have a good eye, and I know my Lucy! What can I say?  LOL!  

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Regarding the above "Heart-on-Satin" screenshots, I don't think that the original "I Love Lucy" Black and White "Heart-on-Satin" and the Color "Forever Darling" "On-Satin" are the same.  However, I do think that the Color "Forever Darling" "On-Satin" are the same. The first is a screenshot of the original black and white title card, from the Ultimate Season One Blu-ray DVD.  The second one is the "Forever Darling" title-card, and the third is from the Makeup/Wardrobe tests, that was an extra special bonus feature, on the Ultimate Season One Blu-ray DVD.  Those two look identical, except for the colors.  Maybe that was a much better quality, than the original, and had a better picture quality, was in a higher definition and/or wider screen.  I have a good eye, and I know my Lucy! What can I say?  LOL!  

 

Yes, they are all the same. The "Forever Darling" shot was the original, and it was in wide screen. The B&W "I Love Lucy" was derived from that... as was the "Make Up Test" title...

Good eye!

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Claude: did you find the Target set in your area?

YES, JUST CAME BACK FROM THERE.  Thanks Brock for mentioning that you got yours in Toronto, but i was not optimistic about getting it here in Montreal.  As i keep saying, I Love Lucy is not known here in Friggin french queerbec, oh the old timers remember it, some of my relatives know the show but i would like you to splain to me why the shows are not available in french when i know they played in France.  So, every time i play them here, i have to translate for french people watching.  Of course, we all know Lucy's comedic antics don't really need dialogue as it's all visual and relatable.  

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Claude: did you find the Target set in your area?

So, Target opened about fifteen stores here last year, but they are not doing that well as the market is oversaturated, they never should have opened that many stores at the same time and some are even talking of closing and the economy here sucks BIG TIME, so, i was going to call, ask for the video dept and ask if they were in stock, but i was afraid the clerk wouldn't even know the show so i decided to go there and pray.  I get there and go to the wrong department, i saw a basket full of dvds in the tv section and the unbelievably nice young lady there, knew right away about the show and the Target exclusive, she went to the video department and brought me back the greatest Christmas present i could ever hope to get.  I looked at it and thought, oh no, wait, this is last year's as there was no picture of the chocolate factory one, only Scotland, and the other two on the back, this sleeve was only adorned with this tiny little sticker that said ALSO INCLUDES THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, so i took off the sleeve and saw that INSIDE, there is a different cover that showcases the chocolate factory episode.  I say the marketing people should have showed the different cover on the front as many people won't buy it thinking it's the same old one.  Needless to say, as i left, the young lady spoke to another guy in English, hence the knowing about the show and knowing also about the Target exclusive, i was very lucky.  And extremely thankful to God and CBS and especially Tom Watson for this incredible experience.  I tried recording with my DVD recorder but it said something about signal failure so i was going to attempt it again on the rerun of the ep on Christmas Eve.

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I was delighted to find the exclusive DVD at Target Canada today. We never get the Target "exclusives" up here, so maybe that's an encouraging sign on the distribution of this set!

This was confirmed by the young lady HERE, we were very fortunate indeed.  I don't know if i'm all too happy with this Target SCLUSIVE as i had no trouble getting last year's DVD at HMV, but right now i'm delirious that Target loves Lucy so much.  And recognizes her worth after all these years.  They had two other copies left after i exited, i displayed them more prominently and left, LOL!  

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I agree with you... But unfortunately the advertisers have the last say in the world of commercial television.  I worked for a media buying firm in the 1990s and early 2000s. Our buyers helped adverisers select which media vehicles were best for them to place their commercial messages in... The firm represented some of the biggest and most influential advertisers in the business... And no matter what our buyers recommended, MANY of the clients were adament that their commercials NOT be placed "in any black-and-white shows -- not even LUCY."  I know because everyone in the firm knew my affinity for Lucille Ball, and they told me how hard it was for them to sell the B&W shows...

 

And that was over 10 years ago... Things have only gotten worse since...

 

We may love the B&W shows, but our love alone does not pay the bills...

Keep saying that, maybe we'll get lucky and it will penetrate the purists' thick skulls.  

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As far as seeing/noticing things for the first time, I noticed an old fashioned/antique coffee grinder, on the shelf between the stove, and the breakfast nook.  It was probably the same one Lucy used in "Pioneer Women," when she was making coffee.  With that being said, I was just thinking how the "Kitchen" scenes in "Pioneer Women" would look colorized, especially the "Bread" scene!  

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Temper, temper! :lucythrill:

Oh i know, i woke up with a mild heart attack this morning thanks to you and your color vs black and white arguments, LOL!  I'm sorry but i saw your postings came from Australia, so i said to myself, oh, so he's not a conservative republican after all, thought you were one of those republicans who insists on telling us what we can have and enjoy like their adamant stance on stem cell research which is now free to cure many illnesses and save lives.  Yes, it did get my temper up, way way up.  If the show looked like that first Christmas special decades ago, i would agree with you, but the great strides that have occurred in colorization over those same decades is just amazing.  And although i hate to admit it, i have seen Job Switching so many times that i cannot tell you the joy at finally enjoying it looking different.   And i can fully enjoy it again and for that i will be eternally grateful.  CAN I MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND HOW SEEING THE END OF MY LIFE, I CAN FINALLY SEE MY FAVORITE LUCY SERIES IN COLOR BEFORE I EXIT THIS WORLD OF UNFUNNY SITCOMS AND PRETENDERS NEVER AS FUNNY AS THE QUEEN HERSELF STILL MAKING MY LIFE WORTHWHILE AFTER SIXTY YEARS? :ill:   I agree with Desi, for me too I Love Lucy was never just a title. 

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This great dvd will be watched over and over during the Christmas season and i can watch an episode that i have seen way too many times but yet enjoy again as it has something different about it, it's in color and it looks absolutely stunning.  Thanks to all involved who have worked tirelessly to give us some new Lucy thing to enjoy, especially at this time of year.  THANKS TOM WATSON AND WHOEVER ELSE WORKED ON THIS PROJECT, IT IS TRULY AMAZING AND QUITE A SIGHT TO BEHOLD!

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As for you Lotus Bud, my apologies for over reacting, as usual, to your comments about colorization.  We are all entitled to our opinion and although we are on different sides in this situation, i have always enjoyed your posts and love it when someone stirs things up by NOT committing that sin that Lucy always hated, BORING people to death, i am enjoying this debate as it is very interesting.  Maybe i'd react similarly if i saw my all time favorite film Citizen Kane, colorized, but again, i think i've seen it way too many times and it might be enjoyable to see it a different way, for once.

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And my heart stopping this morning might have had more to do with my eating like a pig and sitting all evening watching movies and tv shows and not burning up all that fat and artery clogging mess, after all, it IS log cake season so your posts and this debate only fueled my problems, on to salads for today and controlling that temper you mentioned, LOL!

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Ok, just opened the dvd and I see what they did here.  They included this tiny little container for the Job Switching episode INSIDE the packaging for last year's issue.  I guess they ARE that expensive to make so they went the cheap route in the putting it out on dvd.  But it's still worth it, every penny and MORE.  Just beautiful, and the colors are so perfect, thanks again.

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I think the idea was to merely add the new DVD to the packages already in existence (and being supplied to the other outlets)... Those fancy multi-disc clamshells are a lot more expensive...

 

Am glad the Canadian stores are stocking the set...

 

Hope the US stores order more. The stores here in LA each only seemed to have two or three...

I bought the last one in one of the two stores in my area. The other store only had the single-disc package from last year...

 

T.

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