Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Love I Love Lucy

You may disagree, but in my opinion I Love Lucy was the funniest sitcom ever. I've seen every episode probably a dozen times and yet I still laugh out loud at some episodes.

It's hard to pick a favorite, although I do like the series when she and Rickey are in Hollywood and she does all sorts of crazy things to meet the movie stars. Breaks into Richard Widmark's house. Hits William Holden in the face with a pie. And, of course, steals John Wayne's footprints. Stars were insanely gracious to long-suffering Ricky and his crazy wife and nobody had her arrested or committed. Nice of them.

Some of those episodes were wonderful, especially the one where she mirrors Harpo Marx. Classic!

The two biggest laughs of the series for me comes in two different episodes. The first is when they're living in the country and it's the famous "tango" episode. For a variety of reasons too complex to relate, Lucy has her shirt loaded with two dozen raw eggs. She and Ricky rehearse a tango and at the dramatic end of the dance, the eggs smash. It's genius. The look on RIcky's face when his wife "explodes." The reaction from Lucy at being a drippy, messy wreck. Every time I see that episode, even though I know it's going to happen, I laugh.

The other favorite moment is from a more obscure episode where Ricky takes Lucy hunting. She enlists Ethel to help her fool Ricky into thinking that Lucy is an experienced outdoorswoman. Ethel buys a bunch of fish and gives them to Lucy who pretend to catch them. But the big laugh comes the next day when they go duck hunting. Ethel hide up a tree. Lucky "spots the duck" and fires. And down comes the bird. Ricky picks it up -- and it's already plucked, fresh from the butcher. It's a huge laugh and one that had but Husband and i in stitches the last time we saw it.

So many of the classic series hold up well. Barney Miller is still brilliant. Some of the old Dick Van Dyke shows still deliver laughs. The Newhart Show, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show can still be funny. But the only one that never fails to make me laugh is Lucy.

Maybe I'm turning into one of those cranky old women (even though I'm still under 50) but the newer comedies just don't make me laugh. Of the past few years, only Friends had scripts that were literate and funny and didn't seem to revolve entirely around who was sleeping with whom.

I know there are some good ones out there, but if left up to me to choose between something where the plot is described as "a case of mistaken identity leads Heather to suspect her new boyfriend may be her long-lost brother" or I Love Lucy, there's really no choice.


Kittie Howard said...

The I Love Lucy series was pure genius. She had a gift for comedic timing. I remember being sad when they divorced for I couldn't think of one without the other. I know the series you mentioned and agree, also like the episode where Lucy wants to lose five pounds and gets stuck in the portable steamer and, of course, the episode where she's on the assembly line. Hilarous all! (I thought Friends was fun but lacked that spark that separates good from great.)

Duke said...

I Love Lucy was a groundbreaking series in many ways. It was the first TV show to us a 3 camera dolly system like they did in the movies. Desi hired a famous film Director of Photography to shoot the show too. If you compare I love Lucy to other TV shows of the era it's like night and day. Lucy looks like a movie, and still holds up well.

I Love Lucy was the first modern sitcom and formed the structure for all others since. Even today if you look at how shows are paced, written, and shot, you see influences from Lucy. You really can't overstate it's impact on TV.

Shortly before his death Desi wrote an autobiography called "A Book" which is excellent. I would highly recommend you read it since you're a I Love Lucy fan. In it, Desi is very honest about his life, career, and his marriage to Ball. You learn lots of inside stuff about the making of the show plus how he started up Desilu studios. That studio, by the way, produced the original Star Trek.

I didn't mean to ramble on. Sorry. Just some info I thought you might be interested in.