If you've never heard of the classic television show entitled "I Love Lucy", then please escape from the rock you've been living underneath. I was first introduced to "I Love Lucy" at an early age, as me and my mother would watch an episode or two almost every day. It's been almost six years since I last saw an episode, so I jumped at the chance to see how Paramount would handle the DVD releases of arguably the greatest comedy of all time (in my opinion, "Seinfeld" barely edges it out). For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it's my duty as a reviewer to give a synopsis.
Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) is a daffy housewife who has dreams of becoming a star. She's married to Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), a Hispanic bandleader who's often shocked at his wife's antics (i.e. "Lucy… you have some 'splainin to do!"). Rounding out the cast are their neighbors and sometimes partners-in-crime, Ethel (Vivian Vance) and Fred Mertz (William Frawley). In almost every episode, Lucy gets herself into trouble, with funny consequences. That's the show in a nutshell.
"I Love Lucy, Volume Five" features four episodes from the first season (episodes #16 - #19). Why Paramount decided to release separate "volumes" for the first season instead of a box set is beyond me. Anyways, here is an episode synopsis:
Lucy Fakes Illness - Lucy fakes an assortment of illnesses so Ricky would allow her into one of his shows. To teach her a lesson, he has a real doctor examine her.
Lucy Writes a Play - Lucy writes a play called "A Tree Grows in Havana", and needs Ricky to star in it. He declines, so she rewrites the play for Fred.
Breaking the Lease - The Ricardos and Mertzes are at war, until Desi and Lucy decide to move out. Unfortunately, they signed a lease, and the only way to get out of it, is to become "undesirable tenants."
The Ballet - Lucy learns of an opening in one of Desi's shows, and decides to learn ballet as well as burlesque comedy. The results are disastrous when Lucy shows up to the club.
"I Love Lucy" is presented in full frame black-and-white 1.33:1. The transfer looks really good, considering these episodes are over 50 years old. There are few instances of dirt and grain, but compared to the television counterpart, it blows it out of the water. Good job by Paramount.
The audio is presented in Dolby 2.0 and Spanish 2.0. Everything sounds good considering the age of the material. There are no audio dropouts, and dialogue and audience laughter sound relatively clean. Once again, good job by Paramount.
A static DVD menu with offers the choices of: "Play All", an individual episode listing, "Bonus" and "Setup". Everything is laid out nicely.
Paramount included a few notable extras on this disc. They are as follows:
"Flubs" (three inconsistencies that are not funny)
"Guest Cast" (a listing of the guest stars)
"Special Footage" (an animated intro promoting cigarettes)
"Original Opening" (two versions)
"Lucy on the Road" ("My Favorite Husband" Radio Show – Liz Has The Filmjabs)
"Production Notes" (self explanatory)
If you're a fan of Lucy, then you should definitely get Paramount's releases. The quality of the episodes is a major step up from broadcast television (no commercials, to boot!). I'll give this a recommended, because an MSRP of $14.99 seems kind of high for less than two hours of television.