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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Still LOVE LUCY

Article first published as I Still LOVE LUCY on TheTVKing.

Recently, in honor of the holiday season, CBS colorized and re-aired a pair of classic I Love Lucy episodes from the 1950s. A beloved comedy from the era when sitcoms still felt like hammy stage shows, in a good way, it brings a smile and wave of nostalgia for those who originally watched the series, as well as the generations after who enjoyed reruns on Nick at Nite. Lucy is an enduring series, and it seems like a good time to dust it off.

For some reason, around Christmas, it's OK to watch old stuff more than during the rest of the year. Usually, channels are bringing us fresh new content. But in mid-December, the beloved movies and specials wrap around us like a warm blanket. Perhaps because it's the time of the year we reflect on our lives and spend more time with family; it just seems right to do so with television as well.

The episodes presented are "The I Love Lucy Christmas Show" and "Lucy's Italian Movie." In the first, Lucy (Lucille Ball), Ricky (Desi Arnaz), Fred (William Frawley), and Ethel (Vivian Vance) prepare Christmas for Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux). They put up a tree and lay out presents, only to find they aren't the only Santas afoot. In the second, Lucy goes to work at an Italian vineyard while on vacation in Italy, hoping to prepare for a movie role, but costing herself the opportunity with her crazy antics.

A description of the story does not do either installment justice. I Love Lucy is hilarious not because of the situations, but because of the wonderful comedic talent of Ball and her co-stars. Both episodes are from 1956 and stand up very well, reminding us why we hold the program so dear. The Christmas special is a showcase of how the four leads play so well together, while the second entry features Lucy herself doing the wonderful physical material she is known for.

I'm mixed about the colorization of the episodes. It's done in a period style, so it doesn't look modern, but it also doesn't look quite real. Lucy's hair, especially, does not resemble any actual redhead I've ever seen, However, there is a segment of potential viewers who would not give black and white a chance, so if the update brings in new fans, I'm all for it. It's not distracting, and while there are a few mishaps (the multi-colored Christmas lights all glow white), for the most part, it's a pretty good presentation, better than previous attempts.

If we're lucky, this won't be a one-time experiment. CBS is the "old people network," so perhaps it makes sense that a trend for bringing back beloved favorites from the past would start there, but it by no means has the monopoly on a library worthy of rooting through. Others should follow in their footsteps.

A DVD has already been released of not only these two installments, but a third as well, also colorized, so if you missed the broadcast, there's still time to get in on the spirit everyone else is feeling. I found the experience very rewarding, and recommend it to all.

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