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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » I Love Lucy - Season 1 Vol 1
I Love Lucy - Season 1 Vol 1
Paramount // Unrated // July 2, 2002
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted July 13, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
In the annals of TV history, few shows are as beloved as I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball's comic timing was a thing of perfection and Desi Arnaz played the straight man in a most manic way. Paramount's DVD releases of I Love Lucy are the perfect primer for this classic show.

Season 1, volume 1 contains four episodes, including the "lost" pilot episode that wasn't aired until nearly 40 years after its production. The main joke of the show – that nightclub smoothy Ricky Ricardo (Arnaz) refused to allow his charming wife Lucy (Ball) to appear in his show regardless of how funny and entertaining she was – is firmly established in the pilot. Lucy eventually wrangles her way onto the stage, of course, showing up Ricky after all. The second episode on the disc (the first episode aired in 1951) is called, tellingly enough, "The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub" and features the debut of the Ricardos' regular apartment as well as their friends and neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance). With the Mertz's anniversary approaching, the girls conspire to go to the Copa while the fellas want to take in the fights. The next episode, "Be a Pal," finds Lucy trying to entice Ricky back into a romantic relationship. The title of "The Diet" is pretty self-explanatory.

Each episode is filled with Lucy's incredible humor and antics. There are almost always costumes involved, as well as fun and engaging musical sequences. The entire sitcom format feels so fresh and new that the ideas just bristle with ingenuity. You can imagine Lucy saying, "Hey, I've got an idea! Let's do a scene where we fool the boys into thinking we're hillbilly girls looking to hook up with them!" The jokes and situations have been co-opted by countless shows since then (and were previously rooted in vaudeville humor) but the cast here is so incredibly talented that each episode is like a discovery. It's incredible to be watching a show that is over half a century old – and that you've seen dozens of times in reruns – and to be laughing so hard that you can barely breathe.

On top of all the innovation present is the simple fact that Lucy and Desi's interracial marriage would be considered daring on today's prime-time line-up, let alone in the early 50's. The notion that they pulled off this show, bucking the nation's concept of love and virtually inventing the entire notion of a 22 minute comedy television show (with a nod to The Honeymooners) is just mind-blowing in an era when someone farting on Malcolm in the Middle is considered high comedy.

VIDEO:
The video on the pilot is rough. This 16mm print sat neglected for decades until someone rediscovered it. It's blurry and damaged, but it's still a treasure. The other three episodes look fine. They are crisp and have a satin-like texture.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is fine. The music and dialog is all clear and sounds just as you remember it. There is also a Spanish mono track, which is very funny.

EXTRAS:
Paramount has included an impressive number of extras. The show's original Philip Morris-plugging opening credits are included, as well as a short selection of flubs from the show. A radio show starring Lucy i also included, which is an excellent bonus. Also included is a behind the scenes audio featurette which contains readings from a book about the show and audio of Lucy discussing her work.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
I Love Lucy is like the bedrock that nearly all comedic television is built on. With Paramount releasing discs one at a time collecting the entire set is likely to be a very expensive endeavor. Still, this first disc, with its lost pilot and great collection of episodes is an excellent thing to have.

Review of I Love Lucy- Season 1 Volume 2

Email Gil Jawetz at cinemagotham@yahoo.com

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