Throwback Thursday: I Love Lucy
This past Saturday, October 15, 2016, marked the 65th anniversary of the premiere of I Love Lucy on CBS.
I'll just come right out and say it: I Love Lucy is the best sitcom to ever air on television. Other hilarious shows have come and gone, but it's hard to name one that remains as fresh and as funny nearly 70 years later. Since I Love Lucy was one of the first, it gets the benefit of longevity.
Besides, not only was Lucille Ball and Desi Aranz's show really good, it was also groundbreaking. It was the first television series to use 35mm film in a three-camera set-up in front of a live studio audience. Ball was the first woman to be the head of a television production company, Desilu Productions, which was created specifically to produce the show. It was the first television series in history to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings.
And still today, I Love Lucy is syndicated around the world in hundreds of languages. It's not hard to see why. I grew up watching I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite, and whenever it was on was always the highlight of the evening. Ball was a true clown, equally adept at verbal witticisms and physical comedy. Her facial contortions are some of the best, and paved the way for people like Jim Carrey. Co-stars Vivian Vance and William Frawley, as neighbors and landlords Ethel and Fred Mertz, Ethel often Lucy's partner in crime, were equally funny and the four made a solid ensemble.
There's a number of ways to own this spectacular show today. Several years ago, CBS released "Ultimate Editions" with all of the original commercials intact, which is a really interesting glimpse into the culture during which I Love Lucy aired. I recommend this only if you really like black and white cigarette commercials (actually, you can choose to watch them without the commercials). You can buy the complete series on DVD for less than $50, or if you're lucky like me, you can find all six seasons at a Massachusetts flea market and own the entire set for $30. Sadly, these episodes are not available for streaming anywhere.
I leave with you the iconic and best-known skit from the series, which was later colorized and added to the Christmas special. It remains as funny today as it was when it first aired. My personal favorite, the Vitameatavegamin episode, was hard to find a good quality version of online. Enjoy: