Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour opening title screen
|Created by:||Jess Oppenheimer|
Bob Carroll, Jr.
|I Love Lucy (1951-1957)|
|The Lucy Show|
|Executive Producer(s):||Bert Granet|
|Production company:||Desilu Productions|
|Distribution and Broadcast Information|
|Distributed by:||CBS Television Distribution|
|First aired:||November 6, 1957|
|Last aired:||April 1, 1960|
|Series runtime:||60 minutes|
The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour is a collection of thirteen one-hour specials airing occasionally from 1957 to 1960 (as opposed to a thirty-minute regular series), and originally served as part of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. Its original network title was The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the first season, and The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Presents The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show for the following seasons. It was the successor to the classic comedy, I Love Lucy, and featured the same major cast members. The production schedule avoided the grind of a regular weekly series.
Desilu produced the show, which was mostly filmed at their Los Angeles studios with occasional on-location shoots at Lake Arrowhead, Las Vegas and Sun Valley, Idaho. CBS reran the show under the "Lucy-Desi" title during the summers of 1962-1967, after which it went into syndication.
Description and evaluationEdit
During the final season of I Love Lucy (episode 14), the Ricardos, soon followed by the Mertzes moved to Westport, Connecticut, reflecting the growth of the suburbs throughout America during the 1950's. Arnaz commuted into New York where he now owned The Babalu Club. A key part of the program's format was guest stars in each episode, including Ann Sothern; Rudy Vallee; Tallulah Bankhead; Fred MacMurray and June Haver; Betty Grable and Harry James; Fernando Lamas; Maurice Chevalier; Danny Thomas and his Make Room for Daddy co-stars; Red Skelton; Paul Douglas; Ida Lupino and Howard Duff; Milton Berle; Robert Cummings; and, in the final episode, "Lucy Meets the Moustache", Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams.
Comedy Hour episodes focused on Lucy's interaction with the celebrity guest stars. Although still a key character, Ricky is less of a major part of the script and has much less interaction with Lucy. Nearly every episode features his not allowing her to do something, which allows Lucy to interact with the guest stars to confound Ricky. Ricky's 'manic' personality has changed as well, and by the last episode (filmed in April 1960) is more subtle, almost depressed and he appears tired. His contributions are generally low-key (with the exception of the 'Berle' episode). Fred and Ethel are featured in fewer plot themes after the move to Connecticut, although Ethel does contribute to helping Lucy carry out her schemes. Each episode stands alone and the program has no continuity. New friends from the I Love Lucy Connecticut episodes, the Ramseys, were not part of the Comedy Hour cast, and are only mentioned 2 times in it, both as baby-sitters for Little Ricky. Besides the Mertzes the only character from the I Love Lucy show in Comedy Hour was Lucy's mother who appeared briefly in episode 12 (the 'Japan' episode) as Little Ricky's babysitter. Little Ricky is used more but is still a minor character. He has no friends noted during LDCH. Unlike the 6th season of I Love Lucy, where a few are noted (Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright, Little Ricky Learns to Play the Drums, etc.) no plot theme centers on him.
Comedy Hour shows ran for one hour with production costs estimated to be $340,000 per episode. Arnaz had originally proposed to run 10 episodes (one per month) but the high production costs forced Desilu to taper this to 5 episodes each in the 1957-1958, 1958-1959 seasons and only 3 in the final season (1959-1960). Arnaz had signed actress Debbie Reynolds to appear in a season 4 episode to be broadcast in January, 1961 and had been preparing to produce 3 specials for the 1960-1961 season. As noted in several histories Ball & Arnaz divorced in May, 1960. After the final Lucy-Desi program the two never worked together again, although Arnaz executive produced the first 15 of The Lucy Show episodes before leaving Desilu Productions in 1962.
For the 1957–58 and the 1958–59 seasons of The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, the ratings were very good. However, by the start of the 1959–60 season, with the habit of viewing Lucy broken up every few months, as well as the obvious tension revealed between Ball and Arnaz due to their real-life marriage unraveling, the ratings for the specials began to slip. Critics began to notice a lackluster quality not only with the scripts but also with the performances of the cast members. In fact, there were many episodes in which constant bickering between Lucy and Desi was noted. Because of their personal problems (and Desi spending more time trying to maintain the Desilu "empire"), the live studio audience was replaced with a laugh track by the final season (although both comedian Milton Berle and writer Bob Schiller stated in The Lucy Book by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman that for the ninth season premiere show, "Milton Hides Out at The Ricardos", a live audience was brought in for some of the scenes to give a sense of timing). In the penultimate episode of the series, titled "The Ricardos Go to Japan", Lucy appeared on screen red-eyed due to her crying during the arguments between herself and Desi (although not seen on-camera due to the show being filmed in black and white).
In the making of the last episode, Ball and Arnaz did not speak directly to each other except when their characters were required to do so. The series filmed its final episode on March 2, and the divorce proceedings started the next day. In the final episode, Edie Adams chose to sing "That's All", later commenting that she personally chose the song, unaware of the magnitude of the Ball-Arnaz marital woes or the pending divorce, and Ball's look of anguish and sadness was obvious in the finished airing of the episode. Adams stated that the mood on set was tense and sad. And, although it had not been publicly announced, most of the cast and crew knew it would be the program's last episode.  This could also be why the program did not have a unique final episode.
Critics have generally regarded the series as a rather pallid continuation of I Love Lucy, with not enough of the original show's brisk pace and memorable sketch-work, and an excessive use of celebrity guest-stars. Still, many fans enjoy the series because of the cast, which remained intact from the original. The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour is occasionally seen on nostalgia outlets like TV Land in its original hour-long format, or in edited thirty-minute installments (beginning in 1987) under the title We Love Lucy, where stations ran it directly after the sixth season of I Love Lucy. This allows them to have twenty-six additional "episodes" that run like a seventh season. Since The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour had only thirteen episodes spread over three seasons, all thirteen episodes were released in one DVD box collection. Me-TV carried the program in its original one hour format during the summer of 2012.
|Lucille Ball||Lucy Ricardo|
|Desi Arnaz||Ricky Ricardo|
|Vivian Vance||Ethel Mertz|
|William Frawley||Fred Mertz|
|Keith Thibodeaux credited as "Little Ricky"||Ricky Ricardo, Jr.|
- ↑ Christopher Anderson. "I Love Lucy". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/I/htmlI/ilovelucy/ilovelucy.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- ↑ Template:Citation
- ↑ Lacey, Gord (7 December 2006). "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour - Artwork for the final seasons". TVshowsonDVD.com. Vancouver: Pacific Online. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Lucy-Desi-Comedy-Hour/6695. Retrieved 17 October 2011.