Here’s Lucy was a series known for landing guest stars from film and television. No stars shined as bright as the guests brought on to launch season three in “Lucy Meets the Burtons.” Who are the Burtons? The biggest couple of all time: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. He was a Welsh brooder while she was the sweetheart of America with her violet eyes. They were the original Brad and Angelina minus dragging around a mob of kids. Liz and Dick were stars in an era before TMZ and Entertainment Tonight so their appearances were limited to gossip columns and supermarket tabloid covers. They were cinema stars and rarely spent time on TV as a couple. Here’s Lucy: Season Three contains one of their rare joint appearances that proved to be the ratings high for the series.
“Lucy Meets the Burtons” has the city in a tizzy with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in town. The famous couple are hidden inside a hotel while a crowd clogs the entrance hoping to get a glimpse of acting royalty. Lucy hasn’t the time to stalk since she needs to get a plumber to fix the office sink. Richard Burton wants to escape from his room and switches identity with a hotel plumber. When Lucy meets the disguised actor, she drags Burton back to the office since a good plumber is harder to find than an Oscar nominated actor in Hollywood. The confusion gets straightened out, but Burton leaves Liz’s famous massive diamond ring at the office. Lucy can’t resist trying on the rock the side of a gerbil. It goes on fast, but doesn’t come off. Dick and Liz don’t have all day to get Lucy’s finger loosened since they’ve got a huge press conference featuring every major entertainment journalist. This episode allows Burton to play with his serious persona. His best moment is when Lucy calls him English. He doesn’t like that.
The Burtons weren’t the only stars to visit the show. “Lucy and Sammy Davis, Jr.” brings on the Rat Packer. She accidentally beats up the superstar until his nose inflates. She fears Sammy will sue her for ruining the film he’s making. She follows him to the set to help bring down the swelling. However her antics interrupt the production. Sammy gets a chance to sing without it turning into a duet. “Lucy and the Drum Contest” sets up Desi Jr. as a winner. Lucy gets him the best drum coach around in Buddy Rich. But the Master doesn’t take students. “Lucy the Crusader” reminds us of the glory days of insane return policies at stores. Lucy buys her son a bum record player as a birthday gift. The store’s return policies have her going in circles that even make store employee Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game) dizzy. Finally she takes her frustration out on the company’s chairman during the stockholder meeting. “Lucy, the Coed” turns into a musical about college life in the 20s. Get ready to squirm as Lucie and Desi Jr play dating students. “Lucy’s Wedding Party” turns Gale Gordon’s house into a location for matrimonial services. Bruce Gordon (Frank Nitti on The Untouchables) is part of a Greek family renting the space for the weekend.
“Lucy Cuts Vincent’s Price” allows that Master of Horror to play his image for laughs. Lucy foolishly buys a painting at an auction. She calls up Vincent Price’s wife to see if the actor can tell her how much the artwork is worth. When she arrives, Vincent mistakes Lucy as his co-star in a low budget horror film being shot in his house. This episode is funny since it allows Vincent to joke around with his Corman career. It also reminds us that besides being an actor, Vincent was a major collector of art. At one point, he had his own section in Sears that sold original paintings and not merely prints. “Lucy and Jack Benny’s Biography” sends her off to help with the comic’s memoirs. When Benny flashes back to the past, Lucy ends up playing the major women in his life. There’s a cameo from another icon at the end. No need to spoil it for you. “Lucy Loses Her Cool” makes her a contestant on a game show hosted by Art Linkletter. She has to keep her cool for 24 hours to collect $500. What she doesn’t know is her family and Harry will get the money if they make her flip out. A hidden camera follows her around for the day. This would probably make a great reality show. “Lucy and Carol Burnett” lets the two ladies put on a musical show while they’re job hunting. The show is the Hollywood Unemployment Follies. The highlight of the episode is the great Richard Deacon quitting his job at the unemployment office so he can direct the show. The season wraps up with a two part “Lucy Goes Hawaiian,” Harry gets a gig on a cruise ship as the social director. He cons Lucy into being his free assistant. She’s more concerned about socializing with the captain. But she’s got competition in the form of her old friend Vivian Vance (I Love Lucy‘s Ethel Mertz). This is like an early Love Boat.
Here’s Lucy: Season Three keeps up the feeling that this series was a variety show disguised as a sitcom. The major guest stars and musical numbers keep it from completely falling into a Lucy-centric family comedy rut. It starts with the guest stars of the decade in Liz Taylor and Richard Burton and ends with the return of the familiar Vivian Vance. This is a series that proved how many stars longed to share the small screen with the crazy redhead.
“Lucy Meets the Burtons,” “Lucy the Skydiver,” “Lucy and Sammy Davis, Jr.,” “Lucy and the Drum Contest,” “Lucy the Crusader,” “Lucy, the Coed,” “Lucy, the American Mother,” “Lucy’s Wedding Party,” “Lucy Cuts Vincent’s Price,” “Lucy, the Diamond Cutter,” “Lucy and Jack Benny’s Biography,” “Lucy and Rudy Vallee,” “Lucy Loses Her Cool,” “Lucy, Part-Time Wife,” “Lucy and Ma Parker,” “Lucy Stops a Marriage,” “Lucy’s Vacation,” “Lucy and the 20-20 Vision,” “Lucy and the Raffle,” “Lucy’s House Guest, Harry,” “Lucy and Aladdin’s Lamp,” “Lucy and Carol Burnett” and “Lucy’s Goes Hawaiian” (two-parter).
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are crisp with colors that pop. Lucy’s redhair burns on the scream. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You might bring the volume down when Lucy goes into her panic voice. The subtitles are in English.
New Video Episode Introductions include details about each episode by various guest stars, Lucie Arnaz & Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Lucy Meets The Burtons: A Comedic Gem (24:22) explores the magnitude of the episode. Turns out Richard Burton was drunk when he told Lucy he wanted to do the show.
Let‘s Talk To Lucy: Doris Day (9:32) is a radio chat from 1965.
Make Room For Granddaddy (27:16) is a Danny Thomas update of his old Make Room For Daddy Series. This episode had Lucy as a family friend visiting them. The series lasted only one season in 1970.
Lucy with Jack Benny (16:01) is a clip from the special Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jack Benny….But Were Afraid to Ask that aired in 1971.
Treasures From Lucy‘s Vault: Aloha Lucy (4:57) is home movies of a Hawaiian holiday with Lucy and Desi. Goofy Golf (2:33) lets us tag along as Lucy and Jack Benny hit the links.
Desi Jr. House Party (3:11) has Desi Jr. on Art Linklater’s House Party show. On the Set (16:01) lets us know about production design. Great Sammy Davis Jr bonus footage.
Lip-Sync Lucy (4:09) has Lucy “singing” as part of The Jack Benny Birthday Special.
Lucie and Desi Jr with Robert Young (7:38) has the strange twist of wondering what would it be like if Lucy’s kids grew up on the set of Father Knows Best. This is from Kraft Music Hall Presents Robert Young that aired in 1970. Check out the groovy fashions.
Lucie Commercial (0:44) is for a toothpaste.
Original Billboard (2:00) gives the intros with the sponsors.
Here‘s Lucy Slide Show (3:19) is a montage of stills from the episodes.
Production Files has the secretary read the press notes sent out for five episodes.
Syndication Promos (14:47) has all the promos for the season. They needed to tack these on each episode.
Here’s Lucy: Season Three comes packed with more star power than an Oscar ceremony. Any other show can book Richard Deacon and Charles Nelson Reilly, but getting Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor makes this an extra special season. Even though he’s a serious actor, Richard Burton keeps up the laughs while playing off Lucy. Sammy Davis Jr.’s nose joke is memorable. This was a great season for Lucy’s final successful series.
MPI Home Video presents Here’s Lucy: Season Three. Starring: Lucille Ball, Gale Gordon, Luci Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. Boxset Contents: 24 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: June 15, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.