The Lucy Show is an American situation comedy that aired on CBS from 1962 until 1968. It was Lucille Ball's follow-up to I Love Lucy. A significant change in cast and premise for the fourth season divides the program into two different eras; aside from Ball, only Gale Gordon, who joined the program for its second season, remained. For the first three seasons, Vivian Vance was her co-star.
The earliest scripts were entitled the The Lucille Ball Show, but when this title was declined, producers thought of calling the show This is Lucy or The New Adventures of Lucy, before deciding on the title The Lucy Show. During the show's fifth and sixth season run, Ball won two Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actress for this show.
The show began with Lucille Ball as Lucy Carmichael, a widow with two children, Chris (Candy Moore), and Jerry (Jimmy Garrett), living in Danfield, New York (a number of sources have, through the years, incorrectly stated the setting as Danfield, Connecticut), sharing her home with divorced friend Vivian Bagley (Vance) and her son, Sherman (Ralph Hart). Lucy had been left with a substantial trust fund by her late husband, which was managed during the first season by local banker Mr. Barnsdahl (Charles Lane). At the beginning of the second season, the character was replaced by Theodore J. Mooney (Gordon, who would remain with the series for the remainder of its run, despite numerous format changes). Gordon was to have joined the series at its premiere in 1962, but he was still contractually obligated to his role as Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace. Mrs. Carmichael spent so much of her time and effort trying to get Mr. Mooney to allow her to invade the principal of the trust fund for various ideas and projects that it finally seemed more reasonable for her just to spend her time working for Mooney directly as his secretary, which she eventually did. Beginning in the fourth season, Vance left the series (It was explained that her character had gotten married). Lucy and Jerry Carmichael and Mr. Mooney moved to California, where both Lucy and Mooney remained in the banking business together (now at a different bank), and Vivian Bagley visited once or twice per season. Lucy's daughter Chris went away to college and was mentioned only once or twice.
Shortly afterward, Jerry was shipped off to a military academy, and his character was very rarely referred to in future episodes, although he did make a couple of appearances. Lucy gained a new best friend in Mary Jane Lewis (Mary Jane Croft), and at this point the premise changed primarily to one where famous guest stars made appearances (usually playing themselves in storylines involving their encountering Lucy while conducting bank business), including Dean Martin, Jack Benny, George Burns, Joan Crawford, Carol Burnett, Ethel Merman, Danny Thomas, Robert Goulet, Phil Silvers, and Milton Berle.
During the sixth season, Lucille Ball sold Desilu Productions (which owned and produced The Lucy Show) to Gulf and Western Industries, which meant that she no longer owned the series. Rather than continue to star in a show she no longer owned, Ball opted to create a new series, Here's Lucy, which employed herself, Gordon and Croft (and Vance in occasional guest appearances), playing "new" characters (though they were all similar to their characters on former series). Here's Lucy ran on CBS for an additional six seasons.
Though CBS would broadcast The Lucy Show in black and white until the beginning of the fourth season, episodes were actually filmed in color starting with the second season, as Ball realized that the episodes would eventually be widely shown in syndication, and that color episodes would command more money when sold to syndication.
The credits list the show's basis as the novel Life Without George, by Irene Kampen. This non-fiction book was a collection of humorous pieces about two divorced women and their children living together. A next door airline pilot neighbor, Harry Connors, became a character in the series played by Dick Martin. The character of Chris, Lucy's daughter in the series, had the same name in the book. In a later volume of essays, Nobody Calls At This Hour Just To Say Hello, Kampen wrote a piece entitled "How Not to Meet Lucille Ball," which detailed her efforts to meet Lucy when she visited Los Angeles (she never got to meet her).
Throughout the series, six openings were used:
- During the first season, animated stick figures of Ball and Vance were used.
- During the second season, stills from previous episodes were used.
- During the third season, footage from previous episodes were used. For the six episodes that Vivian Vance did not appear in, the "co-starring: Vivian Vance" voiceover, and accompanying text and still of Vivian, were omitted.
- During the fourth season, a kaleidoscope opening in which footage was used of Ball in a kaleidoscope-like pattern. In the first nine episodes of the fourth season a slightly different opening was used (the first two clips of Ball were reversed). In the episodes in which Gale Gordon did not appear, the "co-starring: Gale Gordon" voiceover was omitted from the audio track.
- Durin the fifth season, an additional opening was created at the beginning of the season that featured Lucille Ball as animated "jack-in-the-box". Reportedly, Ball herself decided that she did not care for the "jack-in-the-box" visual, and the titles were changed after only a few broadcasts.
- During the sixth season, the kaleidoscope opening was used once again, but the theme music was reorchestrated. Also the shot of Ball at the end of the opening is a different clip than season five. For the episodes Gale Gordon did not appear in, the "co-starring: Gale Gordon" voiceover was omitted from the audio track.
Though the ratings couldn't top I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show was a tremendous success. During the show's first season, the show ended in the #5 spot. However, with the show's second and third seasons, ratings slightly declined: season two finished at #6 and season 3 finished at #8. However, when the fourth season aired, ratings went up and it ended at #3. With this leap in ratings, the show's 5th and 6th seasons, Lucille Ball was nominated and won Emmy Awards. Just like I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show never dropped out of the top 10 for its entire run, but however only ranked in the top 5 for 4 out its 6 seasons, wheras, I Love Lucy never ranked out of the top 5.
Prior to the release of The Lucy Show: The Official First Season, there were only 30 public domain episodes available on DVD and/or VHS (2 episodes from the first season, 21 from the fifth season, and 7 from the sixth season). These episodes have been released by different companies like Vintage Home Entertainment, Alpha Video, Digiview and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released the first five seasons on DVD in Region 1, as of December 6, 2011. CBS announced that all the episodes have been remastered using the original 35mm negatives.
The first three official DVD releases allow you to view the original openings, closings, and cast commericails directly in the episode, while the fourth and fifth season DVD releases do not allow to view vintage elements directly in the episodes.
List of releases:
- The Lucy Show: The Official First Season (released July 21, 2009)
- The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season (released July 13, 2010)
- The Lucy Show: The Official Third Season (released November 30, 2010)
- The Lucy Show: The Official Fourth Season (released April 26, 2011)
- The Lucy Show: The Official Fifth Season (released December 6, 2011)
- The Lucy Show: The Official Sixth Season (released October 9, 2012)