When does red appear black and white? This is what happened when The Lucy Show ran on CBS in 1963. The Tiffany Network didn’t want to get pulled into the world of hues so they kept broadcasting their regular series in black and white.
Lucille Ball sensed in the near future that the local channels would be more receptive to color reruns. Instead of waiting for the network she pulled the trigger and inserted color film into her studio’s cameras. Your grandmother will insist The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season has been colorized; they were originally broadcast in black and white but recorded in color.
Early on we see that Lucille Ball’s solo show would be much different than I Love Lucy was. The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season represents the series setting itself apart from I Love Lucy (minus Ricky Ricardo and Fred Mertz). The color allows Lucy to let her red hair shine during her outrageous schemes. The arrival of a regular foil gives her purpose, as well.
“Lucy Plays Cleopatra” brings around the annual fundraiser for the Danfield Woman’s Volunteer Fire Fighters. Hans Conried (Bullwinkle Show) comes in to direct the revue only to become horrified by their singing. He coaxes them into doing Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. Lucy sneaks the role of Cleopatra and sticks Viv (Vivian Vance) as Marc Anthony. The performance ends with Lucy and Viv seeing which can die last.
“Kiddie Parties, Inc” put Lucy and Viv in the role of planning birthday celebrations for the elementary school set. There first gig quickly turns into a disaster on every level from the pony to the trick dog to the missing clown.
“Lucy Gets Locked in the Vault” introduces us to Theodore J. Mooney (Gale Gordon). He’s the banker in charge of Lucy’s trust fund that was set up by her late husband. When she requests extra cash from the fund, Mr. Mooney demands she cut back and do things herself like giving the kids haircuts. This backfires when she gives Mr. Mooney’s son (My Three Sons‘ Barry Livingston) a mohawk. The big disaster of the day is when she pulls the vault door shut to have a private talk with Mr. Mooney.
The lock is on a timer so they’re stuck together till daybreak. Gordon had appeared in a few episodes of I Love Lucy. Starting with this episode, he’s have 11 years playing the authority figure to her on The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. Lucy and the Safe Cracker returns Mr. Mooney to the bowels of the bank’s safe. She persuades the local candy shop owner to return to his previous life as a safe cracker. This goes wrong when the ex-con decides to completely come out of retirement.
“Lucy Decides to Redecorate” has the ladies becoming DIY disasters. Mr. Mooney won’t give them enough cash to completely fix up the house. It just turns into a demolition project with their low quality work. “The Loophole in the Lease” makes Lucy and Viv do more home repair. This time the boys overflow a bathtub and destroy the kitchen ceiling. There’s plenty of plaster fun. In the midst of arguing over the repairs, it turns out Viv has an option to buy the house from Lucy in the lease. It is funny that Lucy is the landlord to Viv after all those years on I Love Lucy when the reverse was true.
“Lucy and the Military Academy” sends her barely seen son Jerry away. She can’t handle the separation and sneaks onto the campus in a cadet uniform. Ever wonder why Lucy didn’t have her second husband Gary Morton play her new TV husband? The answer is found in “Lucy Takes Up Golf.” Morton has zero screen chemistry charm with his wife. He’s about as stiff as his three iron. There’s plenty of golf humor as she learns the game and masters a couple pros.
Ethel Merman sticks around for two episodes: “Lucy Teaches Ethel Merman to Sing” and “Ethel Merman and the Boy Scout Show.” The Broadway legend brings the laughs and the music to the show. She shares the stage at a Cub Scout benefit with Lucy, Viv and Mr. Mooney. Many of the episodes focus on Lucy terrorizing Mr. Mooney. “Lucy Is Her Own Lawyer” drags him into court since his dog barks too much.
“Lucy Takes a Job at the Bank” nearly has her destroy the joint. “Lucy Meets a Millionaire” sets her up with a rich Italian. Mr. Mooney wants the guy’s business in his bank. It becomes greed clashing with lust in a fancy restaurant. There’s a scene where Lucy ends up dyed green. Was this the inspiration for all the green women on Star Trek? Lucy’s company was responsible for the sci-fi series.
It’s bedazzling to see her hatching schemes in glorious Technicolor.
“Lucy Plays Cleopatra,” “ Kiddie Parties, Inc.,” “Lucy and Viv Play Softball,” “Lucy Gets Locked in the Vault,” “Lucy and the Safe Cracker,” “Lucy Goes Duck Hunting,” “Lucy and the Bank Scandal,” “Lucy Decides to Redecorate,” “Lucy Puts Out a Fire at the Bank,” “Lucy and the Military Academy,” “Lucy’s College Reunion,” “The Loophole in the Lease,” “Lucy Conducts the Symphony,” “Lucy Plays Florence Nightingale,” “Lucy Goes to Art Class,” “Chris Goes Steady,” “Lucy Takes Up Golf,” “Lucy Teaches Ethel Merman to Sing,” “Ethel Merman and the Boy Scout Show,” “Lucy and Viv Open a Restaurant,” “Lucy Takes a Job at the Bank,” “Viv Moves Out,” “Lucy Is Her Own Lawyer,” “Lucy Meets a Millionaire,” “Lucy Goes into Politics,” “Lucy and the Scout Trip,” “Lucy Is a Process Server” and “Lucy Enters a Baking Contest.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The color transfers are sharp and brilliant. This looks much better than what Grandma watched back in ’63. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The mix is just right to capture Lucy’s “wahhhh” moments. The episodes are subtitled.
Lucille Ball Comedy Hour (51:47) is Lucy’s first solo comedy special that aired at the end of the second season of The Lucy Show. She plays herself as the head of her production company. Gail Gordon is a beancounter from a bank holding the company’s debt. The only chance she has of saving herself is to get Bob Hope as her guest star. She chases him around the world and into a soundstage.
A Note about Color (1:28) explains why the show was originally broadcast in black and white.
Let’s Talk to Barry (10:27) is an interview with Barry Livingston who played Mr. Mooney’s son. He also appeared on My Three Sons with William Frawley (Fred Mertz). The veteran actor taught Barry how to cuss. Frawley used Barry and his brother Stanley to sabotage Vivian Vance’s work on the neighboring Lucy Show soundstage. He chats about growing up with the Desilu and Paramount backlots as his playgrounds. Barry’s still acting and was on Mad Men.
Lucy and the Merm (3:41) explains how this was supposed to be a one episode guest shot. The producers realized they had more episode that one show could fit. They figured out how to extend this into a second episode.
Let’s Talk to Carole (24:27) is an interview with Carole Cook. She was a guest star on numerous episodes and Lucy’s pal. Her experience with the firepole is a warning to all.
Clip from CBS The Stars’ Address (3:17) has Lucy and Viv dressed up as mailman to promote the new season.
Opening Night (4:25) are more clips from a CBS special hyping the new season. The first is Lucy doing “Slowly I Turned” with Phil Silvers. The second is a musical number with Lucy pleading for her General Foods sponsor to stick by her new show.
Recovered Cast Commercial (0:39) was supposed to be with the first season. Vivian Vance pushes Jell-O butterscotch pudding on Lucie Arnaz (Here’s Lucy).
Vintage allows you to watch the original black and white openings, cast commercials and closings with the normal color episodes. The ads allow Candy Moore more screen time as Lucy’s daughter while she pitches Lux soap. You can also watch these elements separately.
Meet Jess Oppenheimer is a text feature about how the executive producer of the Comedy Hour had been producer and head writer on I Love Lucy.
Guest Cast gives brief bios on the various actors that pop up on episodes.
Production Notes give trivia about episodes along with odd bits of paperwork. Turns out the actor who played Little Ricky had his cameo cut from an episode.
Photo Gallery is packed with pics from the set.
The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season brings us Technicolor and Mr. Mooney to the world of Lucy and Viv. It’s great to finally see Lucy’s red hair. The bonus features allow you to see the show as it was originally broadcasted. I don’t recommend killing your color to duplicate the effect completely. Fans of I Love Lucy should adore this season of The Lucy Show.
CBS DVD presents The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season. Starring: Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon. Boxset Contents: 28 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: July 13, 2010.
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.
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