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

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Ball and Vance with bird
THE LUCY SHOW Season 3. 1964. CBS.

"Her hair's dyed -- and her brain isn't too long for this world, either."

After I Love Lucy wrapped up and Lucy divorced Desi -- the two remained involved with Desilu Studios -- Ball importuned Vivian Vance, who only wanted to stay on the east coast with her husband, to co-star with her in a new vehicle. Supposedly based on a book called "Life Without George," The Lucy Show basically had Lucy (now the widowed Lucy Carmichael with two children) and Ethel (reborn as the divorced Vivian Bagley with one son) sharing a house and expenses and a lot of misadventures. The network kept wooing Lucy and Lucy kept wooing Vance, so she returned for a third season of silly episodes. Vance did not appear in every episode -- one condition for her doing the show -- so she was occasionally replaced by special guest-stars, including Ann Sothern, who isn't bad as a widowed countess who returns to the town where she was born. However, the episodes with Ball and Vance are generally the most memorable. Arguably the best third season episode has Lucy and Viv vying for Charles Drake as Lucy shows up at a dance on roller skates, ensuring pandemonium. Other reasonably good shows have Jack Benny playing a plumber, Lucy and Viv acting as camp cooks, and a wacky trip to Las Vegas. Lucy loses a contact lens in chocolate icing but doesn't know which cake, and she accidentally sucks a rare valuable stamp into a vacuum cleaner she's trying to sell. And so on.

Lucy and Viv can still be very funny,-- and occasionally overbearing, especially the former --  but the scripts weren't always up to their standards. Gale Gordon makes an excellent foil as irritable banker Mr. Mooney; he's especially good in a sequence wherein he tries to teach Lucy how to ski. The episode where Lucy tries to get tickets to a Danny Kaye performance is fairly wretched, as are the episodes where she becomes a traffic and undercover cop. Guest-stars and supporting players include a very funny Harvey Korman, Reta Shaw, Byron Foulger, Keith Andes, John Williams, Kathleen Freeman, Jim Davis, Carole Cook, Nestor Paiva, Mabel Albertson, Jack Kelly, Steven Geray and Norma Varden. The children haven't got much to do but they are appealing and do it well.

Verdict: No I Love Lucy, but a certain amount of laughs and clever comic antics. **1/2.

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