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The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show

The Lucy-Desi Comedy HourNetwork: CBS
Episodes: 13 (hour)
Seasons: Three

TV show dates: November 6, 1957 — April 1, 1960
Series status: Cancelled/ended

Performers include: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, and Richard Keith.

the lucille ball-desi arnaz show past TV show

TV show description:
At the end of the classic I Love Lucy, housewife Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball), son Ricky Jr. (Richard Keith) and her bandleader husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) relocated to Westport, Connecticut, with neighbors and friends Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivivan Vance) in tow.

These one-hour shows continue the hijinks and hilarity of the beloved Ricardos and Mertzes as they make their lives in suburban Connecticut. When the group isn’t getting into trouble at Ricky’s various performances around the world (Las Vegas, Alaska, San Diego, Hollywood, Mexico, and Japan), they’re doing so right in their very own homes.

Plotlines include Lucy trying to start a career as film actor Paul Douglas’ assistant, winning a pony for little Ricky, and the Ricardos moving in with Fred and Ethel when Lucy rents their home to actor-comedian Danny Thomas.

The show, also referred to as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, features a multitude of celebrity guest stars, including Betty Grable, Red Skelton, Milton Burle, Cesar Romero, and Ann Sothern.

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sal Paradise April 29, 2010 at 11:13 am

Boy, would that be a good project at some advanced film school or writing course.

I recall reading somewhere that Ball didn’t want to do a ‘finale’ just in case they decided, somehow, to bring ILL or LDCH back in another form. There is nothing I can find, public at least, on what Arnaz may have thought about it.

You’d think a finale for the show would involve something drastic. Maybe Ricky finally hitting it big in Hollywood. They move west, leaving the Mertz’ to care for the place in Westport, Connecticut. Since several LDCH episodes involved similiar themes (Danny Thomas Visits, Snow Valley, even the Japan show for example) it would be an easy transition. Had Vance agreed to do a show with Frawley, that would have made a real clean cut as well. I remember someone in college (UCLA 1977) accusing Norman Lear of using that idea in All In The Family to send Meathead and Gloria out to California.

That kind of ending, or finale, would have kept the Riccardo’s around, at least in spirit, just in case a return was in the works.

I wonder, since we’re on the subject, if anyone tried to bring Little Ricky back, as a grown-up. There’s a show with no fathers.

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Sal Paradise April 12, 2010 at 7:33 am

(This part of original post was not included in last post)

LDCH ended its rather subdued run with of 13-show 1-hour programs on April 1, 1960 with an Ernie Kovacs guest starring show named ‘Lucy Meets the Mustache’. Kovacs wife, Edie Adams, also appeared. In ‘Mustache’ Lucy tries to cheer up Ricky, who is depressed that his career is in the toliet, by getting him booked on Kovacs tv show. Kovacs, of course, is put off by her antics which lead to several ‘misunderstandings’ and result in him refusing to see her. To gain access, Lucy convinces Adams to let her replace their driver, who gets the day off. Ricky and Kovacs meet on the commuter train to Connecticut that night and Lucy now has to give them both a ride home. That ride turns out to be for the weekend as Adams spills the beans on Lucy during a high-tech call on the car phone. Ricky and Kovacs give Lucy a hard time until they ‘spill’ the beans on her and all is well, including Ricky getting a slot on Kovacs show. At the end, Lucy and Ricky embrace and kiss, thus signaling the final shot in their 9-year tv run together.

I’m at two disadvantages here. 1) I was young, but I actually remember watching this show when it aired back in 1960. And, again, a few more times when CBS ran the LDCH as a summer replacement show in the 60’s. 2) I have the DVD as part of my own collection of 1950’s tv programs. So, I’m not a big Lucille Ball fan but I like this show (and the original program). When I watched the show back in 1960 it wasn’t known that the show was going to end. And, when shown in reruns, was still fairly popular.

That said, I wonder at times what kind of show Desilu would have come up with for a real ‘finale’. The last show does not even hint at it being the last. From a quality POV it wasn’t very good. It had that thrown together quality several shows in LDCH had; such as ‘Lucy Takes a Vacation’, ‘The Riccardos Go To Japan’ and ‘Lucy Wins a Racehorse’. Trying to write a finale was never considered, according to staff, who say they never received instructions for such a show. Why it wasn’t done is open to debate. I think it would have been hard to write such a program. How would it end? What kind of conclusion would have been used? I have no idea. Sort of like the problem Seinfeld had. Under great pressure to ‘end’ the show with a big send-off, the writers gave us more of the same, only longer. And, it left open the possibility that, some day, the show might return.

LDCH gave viewers no such luxury. When this show ended, so did I Love Lucy. Although many would disagree, I think Ball’s 3 programs after I Love Lucy & LDCH were not as good, or deep, as the original. The public used to ‘love’ Lucy. After LDCH vanished, the public maybe just ‘liked’ her. Post-LDCH demographics changed a lot as well, as Ball’s new shows didn’t have the wide-ranging appeal. Her largest support came from female viewers then, maybe because she was seen as a role model. Younger viewers didn’t watch the new shows either. Over time, her biggest viewers were older white females. Arnaz tried with a female lead based comedy in the late 60’s but found his show had the same demos as Ball’s, only much smaller. If NBC had been smart, they would have run ‘The Mothers In-Law’ up against Ball’s show.

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admin April 12, 2010 at 8:43 am

@Sal Paradise: Interesting. Had they been given a chance, I don’t know if they would have done a real finale. They weren’t very common back then.

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Sal Paradise April 2, 2010 at 10:56 am

This show was a continuation of the I Love Lucy program. Although containing a few formatic change LDCH carried on with the original plot and theme. Their friends, Ethel and Fred, moved out to Connecticut with them and lived in the guest house vie an apartment in New York.
The LDCH ran from the fall of 1957 until April 1, 1960 (yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the last real Lucy program) as an hour show. Originally forecast to run once a month (or 8 new shows) a season LDCH instead was produced at a slow rate and showed 5 in the first and second seasons, with only 3 in the last (1959-1960). The program was also divorced from the original stand alone show (I Love Lucy) and was part of a Playhouse concept advanced by Arnaz and popular at the time.
LDCH, when shown, was always very well viewed and near the top rated show of the year. Clearly still popular with the public (as evidenced by Ball’s follow on programs in the 60’s and 70’s) many wondered at the time if Arnaz had made a big mistake toning down the shows. But, as is well known today, his work as owner of Desilu Productions was more than keeping him busy. And, of course, his marriage to Ball over in all but the legal sense. Those factors led to his decision to run with LDCH vie the I Love Lucy concept.
Watching the LDCH shows can be a real task. Especially now when we all know the principals backstory. Nearly all of the shows follow the well known and worn Lucy format. Even Ricky appears to have had enough of them, as noted in the ‘Milton Berle Hides Out’ episode where he states ‘how come you are always the one who has to be the one to get the people for the show?’. Perhaps the finest show in the LDCH series and closet to the original concept is the ‘Lucy Wants A Career’ offering during the second season. In it, Ball lands a jobs on the Paul Douglas morning show and finds out that her family is more important than show business. This alone effectively kills her motivation for future like themed programs. And must have presented a real problem for the writers, who had to know future concepts were now going to be hard to come up with. Anyway, Ball ends up quitting and returning to her family. This theme was based somewhat on their real lives during the 1940’s.
The last show in the series, ‘Lucy Meets the Mustache’ ran on April 1, 1960. As they had agreed, Ball entered divorce proceedings the next day. Again, knowing the backstory, this episode is hard to watch. You can sense the air coming out of the entire concept here. Althought the actors carried on as they were trained to do you can get a sense that they know this is it. Since LDCH was taped in proper order, the last scene, with Arnaz and Ball was the last time their charactors would exist (with them playing Lucy and Desi). Although the last episode is pretty light in plot and not much to write home about, with the backstory it takes on a whole new gravitas. When it’s done you can feel the loss and know, ironically that an entire era (and decade) was gone.

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