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What episodes are you watching on "I Love Lucy"?

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Getting Ready

This and the two episodes that follow really feel like a 3-parter. It's hard to think of one and not recall one of the others. Some feel they "blur" together, and I can understand why, but you've got to hand it to Jess - the suspense and excitement for the inevitable trip was excellently built. These episodes really make it feel like it does when you're gearing up for a big, fun trip. Preparing is stressful, but the anticipation makes it all worthwhile. Perhaps the funniest thing about this particular installment in modern times is the gang's reaction to Fred's Cadillac, and how they consider it a hunk o' junk. Can you imagine how much a '23 Cadillac touring car in that condition would be worth TODAY? (As an aside, I never realised the façade of the Mertz building was a picture printed on Canvas until I got the DVDs. On videotape, it's much harder to discern, and must've been impossible to spot on 1950s televisions. I used to think they built a complete set, with windows and everything. Even on HD screens, the effect is still pretty convincing, even if it is obvious upon close scrutiny.)

Lucy Learns to Drive

Man, but this is one of my favorites. The sight-gag of the two cars stuck together, and then Lucy driving them back onscreen in the opposite order, is sheer genius. As memory serves, this is one of the last (if not THE last) episodes to have part of its plot taken from a My Favorite Husband installment - Liz Teaches Iris to Drive. On radio, of course, the audience got to be in the front car when the one attached came loose, and experienced it all through Iris and Liz's dialogue. Not possible on television, but this is one instance where telling instead of showing paid off. Seeing the cars switch positions and hearing a shell-shocked Lucy recall the experience was so cleverly done. It's a pity The Camping Trip was chosen for rebroadcast a few weeks before this one aired - they just had to pick the one episode where Ethel knows how to drive, only to have it immediately retconned. (Boy, was I confused as a kid - the CBS/FOX VHS release of The Camping Trip included the season 4 flashback opening. This was back before I knew they created flashbacks for original reruns, and I couldn't figure out how a season 2 episode could be setting up a season 4 plotline!)

California, Here We Come

This is my mother's favorite episode, and the shot of the four of them singing is her single favorite scene from the whole series. It does feature a lot of fighting, but I still love the script and enjoy its flow. This and Hedda Hopper contain Kathryn Card's most substantial, and best, performances in the role. She was so brilliant in the part its easy for me to overlook the obvious fact that Mrs. McGillicuddy was created solely to get Little Ricky out of the way for the California episodes. Knowing there was no convincing way Mrs. Trumbull could tag along, the writers came up with an admirable and creative solution. It does seem a bit odd to me, however, that Ricky was so willing to let her care for the baby alone for such a lengthy period of time, given his opinion of her competence level. (The "Mickey Richardson" joke is easily my all-time favorite Ethel line, and ties with "Shrinking Violet Got Sanforized" for my two favorite lines of the whole show. Mickey Richardson is still a running gag in my family.)

First Stop

As much as I love this one, some inconsistencies occurred to me this viewing I'd never thought of before - The gang left NYC around 6:00 PM, and it takes around 8 hours to reach Ohio by car (probably longer back then). If Ricky had been driving all night to make up for lost time, shouldn't the time frame be early morning instead of evening? There's no way it could still be the same day. Additionally, all of them are griping about how hungry they are, yet Mrs. McGillicuddy and Mrs. Trumbull each gave them huge baskets full of food. However, all they've got left is a stale sandwich and a grape. That would mean that they'd all have to be eating non-stop for 8 hours to clear those baskets, yet they're starving? In other words, there's no way One Oak could logically be their first stop. Perhaps the episode should've had a different title, as there's nothing in the script to suggest they couldn't have stopped elsewhere the previous day. That might also explain why the sandwich was stale. (The "Aunt Sally's Pecan Pralines" joke is another favorite in my family. I feel the urge to say it every time I pass a big road sign.)

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Over the past weekend (on Amazon), I watched "County Club Dance," "Housewarming," and "Building a Bar-B-Que."  

It really made me wish we'd had gotten a seventh season of half-hour shows.  I so enjoy the Lucy/Ethel/Betty dynamic.  The Connecticut move certainly could have provided another season's worth of plots.

 

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On November 19, 2019 at 2:46 PM, Mot Morenzi said:

Lucy Learns to Drive

Man, but this is one of my favorites. The sight-gag of the two cars stuck together, and then Lucy driving them back onscreen in the opposite order, is sheer genius. As memory serves, this is one of the last (if not THE last) episodes to have part of its plot taken from a My Favorite Husband installment - Liz Teaches Iris to Drive. On radio, of course, the audience got to be in the front car when the one attached came loose, and experienced it all through Iris and Liz's dialogue. Not possible on television, but this is one instance where telling instead of showing paid off. Seeing the cars switch positions and hearing a shell-shocked Lucy recall the experience was so cleverly done. It's a pity The Camping Trip was chosen for rebroadcast a few weeks before this one aired - they just had to pick the one episode where Ethel knows how to drive, only to have it immediately retconned. (Boy, was I confused as a kid - the CBS/FOX VHS release of The Camping Trip included the season 4 flashback opening. This was back before I knew they created flashbacks for original reruns, and I couldn't figure out how a season 2 episode could be setting up a season 4 plotline!)

California, Here We Come

This is my mother's favorite episode, and the shot of the four of them singing is her single favorite scene from the whole series. It does feature a lot of fighting, but I still love the script and enjoy its flow. This and Hedda Hopper contain Kathryn Card's most substantial, and best, performances in the role. She was so brilliant in the part its easy for me to overlook the obvious fact that Mrs. McGillicuddy was created solely to get Little Ricky out of the way for the California episodes. Knowing there was no convincing way Mrs. Trumbull could tag along, the writers came up with an admirable and creative solution. It does seem a bit odd to me, however, that Ricky was so willing to let her care for the baby alone for such a lengthy period of time, given his opinion of her competence level. (The "Mickey Richardson" joke is easily my all-time favorite Ethel line, and ties with "Shrinking Violet Got Sanforized" for my two favorite lines of the whole show. Mickey Richardson is still a running gag in my family.)

First Stop

As much as I love this one, some inconsistencies occurred to me this viewing I'd never thought of before - The gang left NYC around 6:00 PM, and it takes around 8 hours to reach Ohio by car (probably longer back then). If Ricky had been driving all night to make up for lost time, shouldn't the time frame be early morning instead of evening? There's no way it could still be the same day. Additionally, all of them are griping about how hungry they are, yet Mrs. McGillicuddy and Mrs. Trumbull each gave them huge baskets full of food. However, all they've got left is a stale sandwich and a grape. That would mean that they'd all have to be eating non-stop for 8 hours to clear those baskets, yet they're starving? In other words, there's no way One Oak could logically be their first stop. Perhaps the episode should've had a different title, as there's nothing in the script to suggest they couldn't have stopped elsewhere the previous day. That might also explain why the sandwich was stale. (The "Aunt Sally's Pecan Pralines" joke is another favorite in my family. I feel the urge to say it every time I pass a big road sign.)

Learns to Drive: When I first started collecting the DVDs, I was surprised to go through the bonus features and see that "Learns to Drive" had a My Favorite Husband counterpart. It's fascinating to compare the radio and TV versions of the episodes, which are both so brilliant. Sometimes it felt like MFH was just itching to have a visual component. 

California: I swear I've heard somewhere that that iconic shot of the Fab Foursome singing in the car is one of, if not the most-seen image ever? Obviously as a Lucy fan I'd seen it plenty of times in books and documentaries and on merchandise, but I can vividly remember the feeling I got the first time I saw the actual episode in full. Sure it's hokey, with the random orchestration backing them up and the obvious rear projection, but the sheer energy sends the sequence through the roof. It's been 60+ years, but I get the same feeling as the Ricardos and the Mertzes whenever I take off on a road trip with friends and we start singing together.

First Stop: love when I'm going down the highway and see random signs that look like they're from Aunt Sally's ancestors. As recently as last Tuesday, while en route to a concert in Detroit, I saw "Ida's Famous Chicken Dinners" and immediately flipped. "We have to go there!! I don't care if it's half an hour out of our way!"

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4 hours ago, Freddie2 said:

Learns to Drive: When I first started collecting the DVDs, I was surprised to go through the bonus features and see that "Learns to Drive" had a My Favorite Husband counterpart. It's fascinating to compare the radio and TV versions of the episodes, which are both so brilliant. Sometimes it felt like MFH was just itching to have a visual component. 

California: I swear I've heard somewhere that that iconic shot of the Fab Foursome singing in the car is one of, if not the most-seen image ever? Obviously as a Lucy fan I'd seen it plenty of times in books and documentaries and on merchandise, but I can vividly remember the feeling I got the first time I saw the actual episode in full. Sure it's hokey, with the random orchestration backing them up and the obvious rear projection, but the sheer energy sends the sequence through the roof. It's been 60+ years, but I get the same feeling as the Ricardos and the Mertzes whenever I take off on a road trip with friends and we start singing together.

First Stop: love when I'm going down the highway and see random signs that look like they're from Aunt Sally's ancestors. As recently as last Tuesday, while en route to a concert in Detroit, I saw "Ida's Famous Chicken Dinners" and immediately flipped. "We have to go there!! I don't care if it's half an hour out of our way!"

Does your DVD copy include "Liz Teaches Iris to Drive"? I swear it's not in on mine, and I always wondered why it was missing, given its appearance on the Radio Spirits tapes. Maybe later pressings added it? I'll have to check. 

And "Ida's Famous Chicken Dinners" sounds divine. I'd totally want to eat there too!

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On 11/19/2019 at 11:46 AM, Mot Morenzi said:

Getting Ready

This and the two episodes that follow really feel like a 3-parter. It's hard to think of one and not recall one of the others. Some feel they "blur" together, and I can understand why, but you've got to hand it to Jess - the suspense and excitement for the inevitable trip was excellently built. These episodes really make it feel like it does when you're gearing up for a big, fun trip. Preparing is stressful, but the anticipation makes it all worthwhile. Perhaps the funniest thing about this particular installment in modern times is the gang's reaction to Fred's Cadillac, and how they consider it a hunk o' junk. Can you imagine how much a '23 Cadillac touring car in that condition would be worth TODAY? (As an aside, I never realised the façade of the Mertz building was a picture printed on Canvas until I got the DVDs. On videotape, it's much harder to discern, and must've been impossible to spot on 1950s televisions. I used to think they built a complete set, with windows and everything. Even on HD screens, the effect is still pretty convincing, even if it is obvious upon close scrutiny.)

Lucy Learns to Drive

Man, but this is one of my favorites. The sight-gag of the two cars stuck together, and then Lucy driving them back onscreen in the opposite order, is sheer genius. As memory serves, this is one of the last (if not THE last) episodes to have part of its plot taken from a My Favorite Husband installment - Liz Teaches Iris to Drive. On radio, of course, the audience got to be in the front car when the one attached came loose, and experienced it all through Iris and Liz's dialogue. Not possible on television, but this is one instance where telling instead of showing paid off. Seeing the cars switch positions and hearing a shell-shocked Lucy recall the experience was so cleverly done. It's a pity The Camping Trip was chosen for rebroadcast a few weeks before this one aired - they just had to pick the one episode where Ethel knows how to drive, only to have it immediately retconned. (Boy, was I confused as a kid - the CBS/FOX VHS release of The Camping Trip included the season 4 flashback opening. This was back before I knew they created flashbacks for original reruns, and I couldn't figure out how a season 2 episode could be setting up a season 4 plotline!)

California, Here We Come

This is my mother's favorite episode, and the shot of the four of them singing is her single favorite scene from the whole series. It does feature a lot of fighting, but I still love the script and enjoy its flow. This and Hedda Hopper contain Kathryn Card's most substantial, and best, performances in the role. She was so brilliant in the part its easy for me to overlook the obvious fact that Mrs. McGillicuddy was created solely to get Little Ricky out of the way for the California episodes. Knowing there was no convincing way Mrs. Trumbull could tag along, the writers came up with an admirable and creative solution. It does seem a bit odd to me, however, that Ricky was so willing to let her care for the baby alone for such a lengthy period of time, given his opinion of her competence level. (The "Mickey Richardson" joke is easily my all-time favorite Ethel line, and ties with "Shrinking Violet Got Sanforized" for my two favorite lines of the whole show. Mickey Richardson is still a running gag in my family.)

First Stop

As much as I love this one, some inconsistencies occurred to me this viewing I'd never thought of before - The gang left NYC around 6:00 PM, and it takes around 8 hours to reach Ohio by car (probably longer back then). If Ricky had been driving all night to make up for lost time, shouldn't the time frame be early morning instead of evening? There's no way it could still be the same day. Additionally, all of them are griping about how hungry they are, yet Mrs. McGillicuddy and Mrs. Trumbull each gave them huge baskets full of food. However, all they've got left is a stale sandwich and a grape. That would mean that they'd all have to be eating non-stop for 8 hours to clear those baskets, yet they're starving? In other words, there's no way One Oak could logically be their first stop. Perhaps the episode should've had a different title, as there's nothing in the script to suggest they couldn't have stopped elsewhere the previous day. That might also explain why the sandwich was stale. (The "Aunt Sally's Pecan Pralines" joke is another favorite in my family. I feel the urge to say it every time I pass a big road sign.)

Of all the story arcs on I Love Lucy --Baby, Europe, Florida, Move to Country--, this is the best.   Imagine seeing these Hollywood shows first run!  And having to wait a full week to find out what was to happen next.   The third season was great but they admitted they were running out of ideas for self-contained episodes.  The 4th season is my favorite. The episodes just got better and better.  One wonders why they returned to New York at all because they were then whisked off to Europe.   The greatness of this arc and Europe always stirs up the bile in my craw because of the lack of them in The Lucy Show or Here's Lucy, the most glaring missed opportunity was the parting of Lucy and Viv, Viv's wedding and Lucy's decision to move to LA.   They could have done at least a half season and Viv's Wedding might have been the TV event of the year.   Other than the few 2-parters,  The Lucy Show and HL are maddening in their lack of any continuity.  

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The Hedda Hopper Story
This is an okay entry but it's thin plot is obvious. The opening with Mrs. McGillicuddy is the strongest part of the episode (I still get confused over the whole time difference argument. EVERYBODY was wrong!). The swimming pool scene feels padded, hence Desi's retread of "Cuban Pete," and the drowning routine feels under-rehearsed...although maybe that was intentional, to show what a poorly thought-out plan it was. Are there any behind-the-scenes photos of the pool set? It must've been elevated to accommodate the depth. 

Don Juan is Shelved
I love all the scheming that goes on in this one. Episodes where Fred gets to join in on Lucy and Ethel's shenanigans always stand out to me. Lucy's little ukulele solo is out of the blue but so charming. It's one of those "little moments" that make episodes stand out and be special. Plus, her playing is actually quite good! Phil Ober gives a solid performance as Schary, but his strengths as an actor can't fully erase the knowledge of how terribly he treated Vivian, which makes his guest spots a little hard to watch in hindsight.

In Palm Springs
I like how leisurely this episode progresses. Just the couples dealing with very human emotions in a sequence of quiet, non-action scenes. I think one reason I'm so fond of it is because relaxing in a hotel on a rainy day is one of my favorite activities. I'd never noticed before how wrinkled the night sky backdrop is in the opening scene. Also, I registered for the first time on this viewing that the Palm Springs swimming pool is a redressed version of the Beverly Palms pool. Makes perfect sense, as building two separate pools would be cost and space prohibitive, but the subtle redressing they did of the pool's surroundings was quite effective. I sometimes have wondered if Lucy and Ethel were so bored, why didn't they try to sneak into Rock Hudson's bungalow, but that had just been done with Cornel Wilde so the writers probably didn't want to repeat themselves. In any event, it's nice to see Lucy start acting more naturally around celebrities. She's still star-struck (her forgetting Ethel's last name and her subsequent WTF? reaction to it being Mertz is so well played), but also manages to regain her composure and speak to Hudson like a normal person. It would've been unrealistic to have her turn into an utter mess with every single one she met. 

 

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The Great Train Robbery
This is undeniably a funny episode, but I also find it a bit frustrating. Lucy's so worked up and paranoid that she's a bit exhausting to watch. It's easier to sympathise with the other characters this time around. Is it ever explained exactly why Lou Krugman was carrying jewelry and a gun? I found that plot point dangling.

Staten Island Ferry
This one's not exactly a barn burner but it's got good moments. The ferry scene has a nice, leisurely pace, and it's one of the rare extended Lucy, Fred scenes. You don't often see the two of them alone together for that long. It's a pity there weren't more, as moments like this show how well Ball and Frawley worked together. Likewise, more scenes of Ricky and Ethel alone could've been interesting. It's a shame an episode was never constructed that paired them off in that order just for a change of pace: Ethel takes Ricky shopping to get Lucy's birthday present and they accidentally wind up getting locked in a department store. Meanwhile, back home, Lucy and Fred can't figure out what happened and turn to each other for solace. Something like that, just to shake things up. 

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Your pairing assessment in Staten Island is something I've long thought myself. Why this wasn't explored more I wonder?

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I just got the colorized collection and have been making my way through them over the past 24 hours:

Pioneer Women
This episode looks very pretty. I like the bolder colors they're using for the newer ones. You can tell the gang was starting to get more comfortable with things this time around, but it still has that slightly stilted first season feel. Lucy seems to struggle raising her voice, which cracks on a number of occasions. As funny as the bread loaf is, I can't ever shake the fact that this is the most illogical gag the series ever did. I wish we could've seen more of the Society Matrons in future episodes, they were a hoot.

Lucy Does a TV Commercial
What can I say about the plot that hasn't been said already? I don't think color necessarily adds a whole lot to this installment, since the sets are modest and it's more character focused, but it was nice to catch a glimpse of the Ricardo's first bedroom in that pretty shade of teal. The restoration of Lucy's Philip Morris bit was astounding; it was nearly impossible to tell that was sourced from 16mm footage. So glad they've been able to clean up those re-inserted scenes more since the original releases, and the sound is much clearer as well. Love the bold yellow they chose for the Saturday Night Varieties curtains.

The Million Dollar Idea
That Elois Jenssen dress in the opening scene is an absolute knockout! How wonderful there were sketches and reference photos to bring it so vividly to life. Again, the bolder colors they're using now really pop in comparison to the more faded-looking earlier entries. The painted TV backdrop was gorgeous as well. Episode wise, the plot is somewhat thin, but the two contrasting sales pitches make the whole thing worthwhile. How anyone could claim Lucy Ricardo didn't have any talent is beyond me - the woman was a master at improv!

The Fashion Show
Color REALLY adds a lot to this outing! It felt like I was seeing the fashion show sequence for the first time ever, and I actually gasped at some of the gowns, something I'd never done before. Lucy's sunburn was incredibly well done - as good as the B&W makeup effect was, seeing her skin tomato red really emphasized just how much she'd hurt herself. 

The Dancing Star
Why this episode isn't talked about more among casual fans I'll never know. It's easily one of Lucille's greatest performances, and that's saying something, given she always gave great performances on this show. Lucy's pink dress is beautifully done.

 

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Did the color episodes play in theaters in Australia, Mot? I don't remember you mentioning it before. Heck, do they even air on TV down there? Excuse my American-ness.

"Dancing Star" is so, so, so incredible- probably even better than the way more famous second half with Harpo. It's interesting to think how this two parter reunited Lucy with former co-stars. I wonder how many movie buffs would've recognized the connection at the time; same with William Holden's appearance. When the TV special featuring "Dancing Star" aired, naturally my family gathered together for it, and before it aired I went on a tirade about it being "one of, if not the greatest Lucy performance ever", and afterwards the general consensus was that Lucy's performance is otherworldly. Maybe part of it comes from the fact that it's kind of an underground gem, not included with the evergreen classics that will always be engrained in pop culture. There aren't any huge comedy scenes, but the episode really gets to the heart of the Lucy character. For once, she finally gets a chance to shine onstage with a big star- independent of Ricky, no less! And she doesn't ruin the situation, either. That scene where Lucy and Van perform the number together at the show should be studied by actors everywhere. You'd expect everything to fall apart, and it seems that way at first, but as the number continues Lucy eases into it and it's just so crazy good. It makes you think that maybe she should be included in Ricky's show once in awhile! And the look on her face when she comes backstage after performing is one for the ages. It's the Lucy character at her most crystallized, pure essence.

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