Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW 1967 - 1969.

It must have looked good on paper. Get the wonderful Eve Arden and the talented Kaye Ballard together to play women whose children are married to one another. On top of that, the two families live next door to each other. And there are all sorts of problems, complications and feuding and fussing. If didn't really matter who played the husbands or the married children [in truth these actors were all competent if forgettable] as long as Arden and Ballard could successfully pull off a new team of Lucy and Ethel. Unfortunately, they don't. Even Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance as they got older and began to repeat themselves became much less fun as the comical couple after I Love Lucy -- a truly memorable sitcom -- went off the air and they dipped in the well once too often on The Lucy Show. [Let's not even talk about Here's Lucy or Life with Lucy.] It was a style of comedy that had its day and is still fun to watch in I Love Lucy reruns, but on The Mothers-in-Law it mostly didn't work. Much was made of the fact that many episodes of this series were written by people who'd done scripts for I Love Lucy, but a.) it was another era and b.) they were not writing for Ball, Vance, Arnaz and Frawley, and c.) even I Love Lucy had the occasional stinker episode. The Mothers-in-Law has the occasional laugh [Ballard does a dead-on impression of Bette Davis at her most affected], but mostly this show is made up of stinker episodes. Yes, Lucille Ball's lovably childish "Lucy" character was brilliantly brought to life by Ball, but in general it's not much fun watching grown-ups acting like eight-year-olds.

Verdict: Watch I Love Lucy instead where they did most of this shtick for the first time. **.

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