DVD Review: Life With Lucy (The Complete Series)

Lucille Ball was television. She had an amazing hot streak that extended from the Golden Age to the Me Decade. First she and then husband Desi Arnaz dominated the ratings with I Love Lucy in the ’50s. After their divorce, she emerged with The Lucy Show to show a single woman with kids could survive in the ’60s. When the ’70s arrived, she was already with her real life kids to give us Here’s Lucy. In the mid-70s, there were UHF stations that could give you a complete Lucy morning with all three of her shows running back to back to back. After Here’s Lucy, Ball did specials and appeared on variety shows. But when the sitcom was back in the mid-80s, Lucy returned too. She wasn’t taking chances with her new show. Aaron Spelling was the executive producer. She brought in Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll Jr. to create the show and write the early scripts. They had worked with Lucy on all three sitcoms. She brought back Gale Gordon who had been her foil since arriving on The Lucy Show as Theodore J. Mooney. Could Lucy at 75 be ready for another six season hit? Life With Lucy: The Complete Series unfortunately is only 2 DVDs.

Life With Lucy has Lucy as a grandmother who moves in with her daughter (Jaws 2‘s Ann Dusenberry), her husband (Star Trek: Insurrection‘s Larry Anderson) and their two children. She inherits half of a hardware store that’s owned also owned by her son-in-law’s father (Gale Gordon). Even though she had nothing to do with the place when her husband was alive, she’s all over the shelves after his death. This leads to a lot of mayhem and slapstick with the various items. There’s a bit of guest star actions. The first major appearance is “Lucy Makes a Hit with John Ritter.” This was a bit of payback since Lucy had hosted a special about Three’s Company. Ritter does his best to take the hits dished out by Lucy. Also appearing is Ruth Buzzi from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. “Lucy Among the Two-by-Fours” has Peter Graves (Mission: Impossible) arrive to rekindle his flame for Lucy and maybe invest in the store. “Lucy Make Curtis Byte the Dust” has Dave Madden (Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge Family) as part of a computer themed episode. In what turns out to be the last episode, Audrey Meadows (The Honeymooners) ends up in a wedding cake fight with Lucy.

Life With Lucy ended up getting canned after only 8 episodes aired. Why did the end come so swiftly? Was that show that bad? Realistically it was no Cheers or Newhart. But it was as fine as any of the other middle of the pack and barely memorable sitcoms that aired during this era. What really killed the show was that ABC gave it a Saturday night timeslot. It was up against Facts of Life. But perhaps too much previous success made the executives at ABC think they were going to be able to use Life With Lucy as the way to dominate Saturday night ratings. Not only was ABC eager to ax the show, they didn’t even burn off the five completed episodes that were part of the order. From what I can find out, Life With Lucy: The Complete Series is the first time these episodes will be seen by fans of Lucille Ball. Even at 75, Lucy was willing to perform physical comedy and even dance. The show wasn’t stuck completely in the past. The first episode has her joking about listening to Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs. The show wasn’t completely stuck in the past, but it didn’t let us forget what Lucy had done over the decades. Life With Lucy wraps up her small screen persona although in a swift way.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The series appears to have been shot on film and edited on standard definition video. The resolution is a little lower which probably works out fine for Gale Gordon. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. You’ll hear Lucy clear as day over her destructive ways. The episodes are subtitled.

Hour Magazine featuring Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon (5:00, 5:07 & 4:59) has them on three different episodes of the show hosted by Gary Collins. She has all praise for Gale and why she can’t stop working with him after all these decades. Gale did pop up on I Love Lucy.

Promos (0:30) are the original ABC promos for the episodes.

Entertainment Tonight Segments (4:12) gives us Mary Hart and John Tesh talking about Lucy before an interview on the new show.

CBS DVD presents Life With Lucy: The Complete Series. Starring: Lucille Ball & Gale Gordon . Rated: Unrated. Boxset Contents 13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: October 8, 2019

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