DVD Review: I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection

There’s no need for a massive screed about the evils of colorizing black and white television shows and movies. Why repeat the words of Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola when they went after Ted Turner for painting over Casablanca. The simple fact is that ever since television started broadcasting in color, viewers have wanted to see color TV shows. The syndication value of black and white TV shows has dropped over the decades. Channels would rather continually rerun the color Gunsmoke seasons than dig into the vault for the black and white years. The ratings do drop a bit. So why not colorize and see if it grabs eyeballs that are turned off by the lack of hues? What matters most is how the producers approach colorizing the show. I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection brings a palate to 16 episodes of the iconic series.

What makes the colorized version of I Love Lucy work is that they look like tinted postcards from the ’50s. They don’t overdo the colors so nothing outshines the red in Lucy’s hair. Fred Mertz (William Frawley) has it bright on top as if the lights were bouncing off the top of his balding head. The house looks like a the slightly dingy paint that a Manhattan apartment would have at this time. Nothing seems too outrageous that you can’t believe this is how the series would have looked if CBS hadn’t held back on color for years.

The episodes chosen to be given the color treatment are 16 of the most memorable including “Pioneer Women,” “Lucy Does a TV Commercial,” “Job Switching,” “The Million Dollar Idea,” “Bonus Bucks,” “L.A. at Last,” “Lucy Gets in Pictures,” “The Fashion Show,” “The Dancing Star,” “Harpo Marx,” “Lucy Visits Grauman’s,” “Lucy and John Wayne,” “Lucy Goes to Scotland,” “Lucy’s Italian Movie,” “Christmas Show,” and “Lucy and Superman.” “Pioneer Women” has the stunt with the giant bread that pins Lucy down in the kitchen. “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” has her get completely drunk while pouring down a sponsor’s elixir during Ricky’s big TV show. “Job Switching” is when Lucy gets overwhelmed while working in the chocolate factory. Plus there’s plenty of episodes from when the gang went out to Hollywood for Ricky’s big break in movies. This is a great mix of episodes that would work fine for those who can’t handle black and white. It’s also a great mix to show off what can be done when colorizing is appropriate to its subject.

Part of the reason that you should be fine with the colorized episodes is that you already have the episodes on DVD (and the first two seasons on Blu-ray). CBS isn’t making the black and white originals vanish off the market. I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection will make see her as the crazy redhead for real and fall in love with her all over again.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The colorization process is quite effective so it doesn’t seem like a slap dash water color effect. The resolution of the black and white image works well with the colors selected. It should easily please the “I don’t want to watch black and white” whiners in your house. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are clear. You’ll hear Ricky sing and Lucy cry. There’s a Spanish dub for several episodes. There’s English and Spanish subtitles.

Redhead Tales: Colorizing I Love Lucy (25:46) is a special about the process. They talk about how this all started with “The Christmas Show” which only ran on the network and wasn’t included in the syndication package. So they colorized it in 1990. They show how the colorization technology looks so much better in the HD digital age. This is a major upgrade from the original colorized special. They reference color photos from the set to get an idea of the proper hues for sets and wardrobe.

Vintage Stick Animation (1:04) is the opening for the Christmas special. This didn’t air because the characters are selling cigarettes to the viewers. Don’t smoke.

Jingle Bells (3:05) has Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel singing in Santa suits with a special guest.

CBS DVD presents I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection. Starring: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and Vivian Vance. Boxset Contents: 16 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: August 13, 2019

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