Tag Archives: season 1

10 Lowest Rated

6 Apr

Well, we’ve talked about the highest rated episodes before so let’s take a look at the lower rated ones. Hey, they can’t be all winners!

Again I’ll look to IMDb at the last ten on their ratings page but I did want to add a few that stick out to me for all the wrong reasons. I’m giving the pilot a pass because a) they’re notoriously flawed and b) it wasn’t aired in the usual manner as the rest of the eps.

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#1 Lucy Goes to Scotland (S5E17)
I’m not sure how I feel about this being the lowest! It’s a little farcical but it’s also the only episode they managed to colorize. I’ll find myself humming “I’m in Love with a Dragon’s Dinner” from time to time.

#2 Lucy Plays Cupid (S1E15)
Any ep where Lucy gets spanked always gets a point taken away by me. But it’s fun to see the Ethel-that-could-have-been, Bea Benaderet and the fire in her furnace.

#3 The Young Fans (S1E20)
Richard Crenna’s very first credited role! But I agree it’s not a strong episode. Two teen neighbor kids fall for Ricky and Lucy respectively. It does border on the creepy side.

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#4 The Benefit (S1E13)
What’s so wrong with this one? I adore the act Ricky and Lucy do and her ruining all his jokes. Tap tap tap!

#5 The Adagio (S1E12)
I was honestly surprised to see so many season 1 episodes on this list. I think season 1 has some winning, iconic eps. I guess it was very hit and miss. In this one, Lucy gets a little too close to her dance teacher. It’s nothing too egregious but it’s also not the most memorable.

#6 Drafted (S1E11)
The girls think the boys have been drafted. The boys think the girls are pregnant. There are questions I have about this ep.

#7 The Audition (S1E6)
Alright now you’ve really done it. I guess since this is like the pilot and people didn’t like the pilot, and A=B and B=C but I’ll stand by this. Ball is fantastic in it.

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#8 The Operetta (S2E5)
Okay, I  am and have always been aware that I love this episode more than most. But darn it, I love this episode. I like musicals though and I think I’m seeing a common thread here.  No one can argue Vance’s talent after seeing her as Lily of the Valley!

#9 Cuban Pals (S1E28)
Again, it’s the musical numbers that lure me in. The song “Lady in Red” is great and Desi has a flub in the episode that makes for a real genuine moment.

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And I’m counting both as #10
Tennessee Ernie Visits & Tennessee Ernie Hangs on (S3E28 & 29) I might even add Tennessee Bound in for good measure. Ernie Ford is a long time friend to Ball but he is a bit… grating. Although Lucy makes a great “wicked city woman.”

And to follow up with my stinkers:

#11 Lucy Cries Wolf (S4E3)
This one is such a bummer to me! I can barely watch it. Yes, Lucy is a brat. I get that. But the idea that she was really  tied up by strange criminals is too disturbing to me to be a gag. Pass.

#14 The Courtroom (S2E7)
When the Ricardos and Mertzes fight it’s either great (Breaking the Lease) or it’s hard to watch. This one is the latter. The Ricardos try and do a good thing and it turns into a total disaster.  Redecorating is the episode right after this and it’s in the similar vein. Not the best, in my opinion.

Agree? Disagree?? What do you think?

 

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S1E8: Men Are Messy

27 Feb

Aired Dec 3, 1951

Plot: Lucy gets upset at Ricky for being sloppy after she cleans the house all day. To make him shape up, she decides to basically destroy the place when a photographer comes to shoot the apartment.

Let’s Get Into It: Lucy starts on the phone with Ethel saying how she just can’t stand the house being messy so of course Ricky immediately comes home and throws his stuff everywhere. He took 1 shoe off and was wearing only 1 shoe for so long it made me uncomfortable! He needed to keep 1 shoe on so he could step on and crack his nuts, then thankfully he took it off, throwing it on the floor with everything else.

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Lucy comes in and gets on his case. She picks up a magazine to show him how other people live and Ricky says he was supposed to be the next spread in the magazine. Lucy’s joke “Better Homes and Garbage” is quite clever! Now the Mertzes are coming and Lucy tells Ricky to straighten up for company. Sure, clean up for friends, but she tells him to put his shoes on. I’m with Rick on this one. I wouldn’t put on shoes. They just can’t agree on anything so Lucy divides the room right down the middle.

The phone is right in the middle of the line and so Lucy insists Ricky listens and she talks. Kenny, the publicity agent on the other end, doesn’t even seem fazed by this weird arrangement. Maybe he’s used to their antics? Lucy also blocks Ricky from the kitchen and yet immediately forgets her own rule and tries to go into the bathroom. Not so fast, Luce.

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It’s the next day at the club and Ricky is rehearsing. As much as I have my problems with this episode, this scene of Ricky singing and dancing “The Hat Song” with Maggie, the club’s cleaning woman is one of the most adorable scenes of the show!

Kenny shows up with photographer in tow to do the photo spread and he says he wants to shoot Ricky at home. All this gets relayed to Lucy who justifies that no one reads the musician magazine anyway so she’s going to teach Ricky a lesson and have the place look like a total pig sty. Oh Lucy! She sure can be immature and, well a brat sometimes and I just hate seeing her like this. Don’t people in the music industry read that magazine? Like Ricky’s contemporaries and possible future employers?? And wouldn’t it still be an embarrassing reflection on her as well? This always felt like an extreme overreaction! Of course I’ve always fallen in Ricky’s “lived in” camp. Do you agree with me that Lucy went too far?

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So on top of being a slob, Lucy makes herself ugly? Just another wig she has on hand. And she talks with another weird voice. I guess she’s trying to be a redneck. And where does she get a car tire that she can so casually display in her living room?

And chickens! More live animals that are available to Lucy on a whim. Where does she get chickens in Manhattan? They’re good for a couple gags. Lucy throws it in the air and it flaps to the ground and Ricky sits on an egg.

Plus it kills me that Ethel is just waiting in the laundry on the line the entire time. She and Lucy go “hunting” in the bedroom. Did they actually shoot that gun off? What else would make that sound? And they come out with their… bear. I can’t even ask all my questions.

So it’s revealed that Jim White is not from that musician magazine no one reads, but is in fact from a very popular magazine, Look! The last scene, has Ricky with the newly printed magazine and he says how the photographer promised not to include Lucy in his article. But ouch, she made cover! okay but huh? Cover pictures are supposed to entice readers to buy the mag. Will anyone buy this? And is she linked to Ricky or is there just some strange redneck woman on the cover? Again a million and a half questions…

 

Notes:

According to IMDb, The cover of Look! magazine that Lucy appears on is the August 1951 issue. The three headliners on the right side of Pope Pius, the B-47 jet and of Gaylord Hauser are factual. Lucy’s dubbed photo is covering the cover photo of the 3 Universal starlets of 1951.
Familiar Faces:
Kenny Morgan who plays Kenny the publicity agent, is married to Lucille Ball’s cousin, Cleo– who was more of a sister to Ball.
Maggie, who is just a delight, is later in Fan Magazine Interview and The Great Train Robbery. 

S1E7: The Seance

20 Feb

Aired Nov 26, 1951

Plot: Lucy, suddenly superstitious, meddles in Ricky’s career when she tells theater producer Mr. Merriweather “no” because Ricky’s horoscope told her to. To make it up to everyone, Lucy holds a seance to contact’s Merriweather’s dear departed, Tilly.

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Let’s Get Into It: I guess Ethel’s tarot card reading from episode 4 convinces Lucy in the supernatural because now she is all about horoscopes and palm readings and numerology. She is a 3. Ricky is a 5 and Ethel is a 7. Whatever that means. At one point Ricky tells Lucy to “nip it in the 3” and Lucy’s reaction is “Watch your language!” Is he saying a bad word or saying to nip it in the Lucy?? Also maybe suggestive (for a 1950’s show) Ricky asks Lucy if she likes the way he “vibrates!” There’s also a Hers and Hers joke thrown in.

Lucy thinks she’s talking to Ricky’s barber and tells him “no no no” because Ricky’s horoscope says Gemini’s should stay in bed all day.Well she’s really talking to Ricky’s potential employer, Mr. Merriweather. Ricky marches Lucy straight over to Merriweather’s office to explain and lucky for them, Merriweather is all about horoscopes too. He’s a 7. “We’re all odd, aren’t we?”

So to schmooze him, Lucy invites him over for a seance so he can talk to Tilly. Ethel has more of that costume money and dressed up as the medium. Ricky and Lucy both have the same idea to fake the Tilly voice. Fred agrees to Rick’s plan, pretends to have a headache and waits downstairs for Ricky’s cue when it’s time to fake his voice, but it takes him too long and Lucy beats him to it. She sneezes and burns herself on the fireplace and convinces eager Mr. Merriweather that she has a cold and I guess is in Hell. They have a nice, deceiving chat and then he wants to contact Mrs. Merriweather! Fred arrives just in time and does that voice to remind Merriweather of his terrible memories with his wife. Ha!

Since Lucy doesn’t know about Fred and Fred doesn’t know about Lucy, they’re convinced Ethel really was talking to a ghost. They start looking for one. Like under chairs and stuff. Ricky comes in after walking Merriweather out when he gets the info. Yes, Mrs. Merriweather is his wife but he is convinced Ethel is the real deal because Tilly’s voice sounded just like what he imagined it would be if Tilly could talk. Tilly, as it turns out, was his cocker spaniel!

Notes:

Starting with this episode one side of the Ricardo’s sofa was padded to make Desi appear taller when sitting next to Lucy.

 

Ricky is a Gemini. Ethel is a Leo (as is Viv in real life) and Lucy is a Taurus– in this episode. A later episode quotes Lucy’s birthday as Ball’s real birthday, Aug. 6th.

 

When Ball went on maternity leave, this was one of the episodes that re-ran with a new opening scene. Ricky comes home to Ethel babysitting because Lucy is at the library. She is trying to find the best name for the baby according to numerology. She almost named the baby Xavier! No child of Ricky’s will be named after Cugat!

MFH Connection: Based on the episode “Numerology.”

Familiar Faces:

Mr. Merriweather is played by Jay Novello, and old My Favorite Husband player who is also Mr. Beecher in The Sublease and Mario in Visitor From Italy.

 

S1E6: The Audition

13 Feb

Aired Nov 19, 1951

The Plot: Lucy fills in as a clown in Ricky’s club act

Let’s Get Into It: I’m sure I’ll talk about this further in depth someday but people always assumed Lucille was such a natural comedienne because physical comedy looked like it came so naturally to her. In reality she worked very hard. But opening scenes like this one, where Lucy puts on Ricky’s Congo drum and immediately falls to the floor is so simple and yet so funny.  It’s a testament to her talent that it looks so easy.

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We get a peek inside the Ricardo’s bathroom! This is the first time  we see this set and I can only think of one other time we come back here. Lucy is trying to convince Ricky to put her in his act and this is such a cute scene for these two. We get to see them set up the entire premise of the show but they are being silly and lovey with each other. Lucy is making faces in the mirror as Ricky shaves and Ricky is cracking jokes. Very endearing.

To prove how good of an addition she would be, Lucy dons a lampshade and a fur shall. Why the lampshade? What does it add to her “costume?” And what exactly is her costume? Well the lampshade doesn’t convince Ricky and it’s still a no.

We see Ricky at rehearsal and Boffo the clown bites it on his bike act. His breaks supposedly lock up but both times the actor just jumps off the bicycle. Instead of taking him all the way home to Staten Island, Fred who’s at rehearsal for some reason, takes him back to the Ricardo’s apartment where Lucy comes home and finds him. He tests out his bike again and flies right through the kitchen door! How much is that gonna cost?

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So Lucy takes his spot and gets to be in the show- not that Ricky approved this, of course. She puts on the weirdest voice but her whole act is hilarious and iconic. Ricky, for his part, plays right along and their banter is fun. Are they making sex jokes? Ricky asks to see her credentials and if she has any experience and her reactions are perfectly hysterical!

Ricky’s show was so important because it was an audition for a TV show (hence the title) but Lucy is so funny, she’s the one offered the contract to which Ricky is less than thrilled. He comes home (notice the door is still broken) and gives Lucy the same speech from the morning. He wants her to clean the house and cook for him and bring him slippers and be a mother to his children. With that, Lucy tells Ricky she has a surprise for him. Ricky’s face lights up before Lucy tells him she’s baked him his favorite pie! Ha.

Notes:

Ethel is not in this episode. This episode is a remake of the pilot when the Mertzes weren’t characters, instead the sidekicks being Jerry the Agent and Boffo the clown. Jerry’s part just got rewritten for Fred and Ethel got left out.

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An audience goer snuck in a camera and captured some color footage of the crew filming. It’s super weird to me to see the Tropicana in full color. Which I guess is pink!

MFH Connection: Based on the broadcast titled “The Wills.”

Familiar Faces:

The Network Execs there to review the show are Jess Oppenheimer on the left, CBS exec Hal Hildon on the right, and in the middle is the man who greenlighted Lucy and Desi’s real life audition, Harry Ackerman. (Oppenheimer’s voice is also heard in Lucy Does a TV Commercial and an extra in The Tour.)

Bennett Green plays a stagehand in this episode. He is Desi’s stand in. He has a lot of background parts in 21 episodes.

 

S1E5: The Quiz Show

6 Feb

Aired Nov 12. 1951

Plot: Lucy’s finances are a mess so she goes on a radio show in hopes to win $1,000 but they have her do the worst prank in history.

Let’s Get Into It: The long running gag that Lucy is bad at money begins with her showing Ethel how she throws all her bills in the air and only pays the “winners” that land face up. Ricky isn’t too keen to find out how behind she is in her books and she tells him she basically flirts her way out of bills. I wish I could use this strategy. She’s so far behind, the song “Jingle Bells” would be playing when the bills were actually due. Pay attention to that song; it makes many appearances in ILL. In a later season, “Jingle Bells” is her and Ricky’s “song!” If I remember right, it’s because it was the only song he knew in English… yet come Christmas special episode, doesn’t he not recognize it when Ethel sings??

Ricky tells Lucy he is taking over the money stuff and Lucy is devastated. Wouldn’t she be happy that all the stress of bills is off her? But now she doesn’t get to spend wildly like she wants to do, I guess. So in order to make a quick buck, she goes on the “Freddie Fillmore Show” to win $1,000. That’s like $9,461 today. A pretty good chuck of change. Freddie Fillmore is played by a familiar face, Frank Nelson. (see end)

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Is this the dumbest radio show in the world? Lucy’s tryout is being squirted in the face every time she sings a world associated with water but the audience can’t see that. Would that be fun to listen to?? And the big prank she has to do to win the money all happens off mic! She is told to go home and a man will show up who she is supposed to introduce to her current husband as her first husband and let the hilarity ensue. WHAT? Why not bring on her husband and have all this happen on air so the audience can hear it? And couldn’t Lucy just tell all this to Ricky before the man comes over and have him play along? The whole thing makes no sense at all.

But Lucy agrees and goes home to wait for a stranger, so when a homeless man knocks on the door she lets him right in. This guy is pretty hilarious. He steals anything he can, sticking it in his pants and coat, including a banana! And his exchange with Lucy asking about their children is fun.

Lucy: “Don’t you have them?”
Harold: “You’ve misplaced them again?!”

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Ethel comes in and ID’s the husband as a bum and a tramp (ha!) and not the man from the show. The man who IS from the show arrives just then – Lucy’s second first husband and he’s played by Vance’s real life husband Philip Ober.  Lucy wildly explains what’s up to Ricky but luckily she does so after midnight so she wins the money. Which always makes me wonder, what time did that guy show up? 11:59??

Notes:

William Frawley does not appear in this episode

Ricky says their rent cost $250 which would be $2365 today!

Familiar Faces: 
Freddie Fillmore will come back for 2 more episodes, Lucy Gets Ricky on the Radio and Ricky’s Hawaiian Vacation. But actor Frank Nelson will appear in 11 ILL episodes overall. In Lucy Changes Her Mind,  Ricky and Fred are TV Fans, The Million Dollar Idea, Ricky’s Movie Offer, The Great Train Robbery, Return Home from Europe and of course in the final season as Ralph Ramsey in Lucy Gets Chummy with the Neighbors and Country Club Dance.
Freddie’s announcer sidekick is Lee Millar.Son of Verna Felton, who’s another familiar face (hint: Mrs. Porter). You’ll find Millar in Changing the Boy’s Wardrobe, Mr. and Mrs. TV Show, and Lucy and the Dummy.
Look closely at Mrs. Peterson. She is played by Hazel Pierce and she is Lucille Ball’s stand in. She’s in a total of 16 episodes, most often as a club goer or party member.
And of course, as previously mentioned Mr. Vivian Vance, Philip Ober plays Arnold. He is seen again in Don Juan is Shelved. 

S1E4: Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her

30 Jan

Aired Nov 5, 1951

Plot: When Lucy reads a murder mystery and Ethel tells reads her her fortune, Lucy becomes convinced Ricky is trying to off her.

Let’s Get Into It: This was the first filmed episode of ILL but due to “post-production technical difficulties” it was aired forth.

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It opens with Lucy reading The Mockingbird Mystery and she’s so engrossed in her book she doesn’t even notice she’s dipping in her chips in cold cream.  Ricky and Lucy get ready for bed and in this era married couples slept in twin beds (on TV) but in these episodes they were pushed together! This was before Little Ricky made his appearance and before it was undeniable that Ricky and Lucy were having S.E.X and the network made them push the beds apart.

The next morning, Lucy is still reading her flying book when Ethel comes in. Ethel’s hair isn’t in it’s usual style here and I think she looks really great. She tells Lucy she learned to read tarot cards and Lucy’s response is that she doesn’t believe in that stuff. Well, she will 3 episodes later… Ethel can barely look at the cards, they’re so scary! They say Lucy is going to die. Lucy then overhears Ricky talking to her agent about “getting rid of her” and getting a gun, not realizing he is talking about his nightclub act and is convinced Ricky is going to kill her.  Which last night, when Ricky was mocking murdering his wife (like he suggests the husband does in her book, Ricky already said a gun was “too noisy” so Lucy has nothing to fear there. lol)

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Ricky writes down a list of the dog’s names and every time the names are read back Helen’s and Ann’s switch order. Hm… Plus is there a gay joke in ILL? One of Ricky’s potential future partners is Theodore?? Progressive Ricky.

This episode really does feel like the “pilot” since it sets up Ethel as the landlord and Jerry as Ricky’s agent. Plus you can tell this show is shot more like a play; when Lucy is running from Ricky, you can see her unclip the frying pan so that it “falls.” Plus Desi, not as familiar with being on camera, has a couple of goofs. When he walks over to answer the phone, he walks too fast and a camera is unable to move out of view. You can see it on the right side of  your screen. Later he stand up to fast causing the camera to cut off half his face and jumps up to adjust.

Ricky confides in Fred that he is worried about Lucy and Fred’s answer is to drug her! Wha? Fred ‘occasionally’ just drugs his wife? Not cool. This was such a different time! So Fred hands Ricky a sedative that Lucy sees him put in her drink.

Let’s break down this scene. Lucy doesn’t just straight out ask Rick, hey whaddya doing? Communication isn’t their strong suit. So she sets both drinks on the table and asks him to dance. When they do the camera swings too far and you can see the bedroom on the left side of the shot. Then Lucy switched the glasses and Ricky secretly switches them back. What do you think Ricky was thinking when he either saw or assumed Lucy switched the drinks? Did he think she knew there was a sedative in there and just didn’t want to go to sleep? Or did he know that she thought he was trying to murder her and what? I don’t even know what he was thinking! Well he switches them back and so she supposedly drinks from the poisoned cup but watch closely and you’ll see Ricky actually picks up that glass.

Lucy isn’t taking this lying down so she and Ethel run over to the club to confront Ricky. She finds out the list of girls (and Theodore) are actually dogs but listen closely and you’ll hear the trainer call one of them “Yorky.” Also keep your eyes on Ethel. Lucy yawns, now that the sleeping pill is kicking in, but Vance in reaction to seeing Lucy, yawns as well! She’s the cutest.

MFH Connection: Based on the MFH episode titled “The Wills.”

Familiar Faces:
Jerry the Agent (Jerry Hausner) becomes a semi-recurring character but he also is responsible for the crying Little Ricky Voice. When he’s not crying, he remains Jerry except for in Lucy Does a TV Commercial, suddenly his name is Joe.

S1E2: Be a Pal

16 Jan

Aired Oct 22 1951

The Plot: Lucy gets fed up that Ricky ignores her in the morning so she tries to keep the romance alive.

Let’s Get Into It: It starts out with Lucy and Ricky having breakfast and I swear that toaster has more scenes than Little Ricky ever does over the course of the show.

Ricky is reading his paper and ignoring Lucy as she talks and talks but that scene where he kisses the grapefruit goodbye honestly elicited an audible Ha from me. Ethel comes in and helps herself to the breakfast leftovers and I think she looks super cute here, even with her hair in curlers. She convinces Lucy, with the help of the book of the week selection, that in order to win back Ricky’s affection, she should dress up for breakfast.

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Glamorous Lucy is a total knockout! Ball was 41 years old already when ILL aired but she’s still got it. Ricky, totally dense, walks on outta there and off to work. That little bit where she calls Ethel is funny, but wouldn’t the phone still be ringing in Lucy’s ear while she’s carrying on that conversation? I still like it though; its clever and charming enough to overlook the possible goof.

So Lucy’s next plan is to “Be A Pal” and she takes over Ricky’s poker night with his buds. This is the first appearance of Richard Reeves as Hank. (see bottom of page for our familiar faces.) Also watch Frawley’s hands on the poker table. His hand tremors from his alcoholism are already apparent in this scene. My favorite part of the episode is when Lucy sneaks of peaks of Ricky’s card when she’s dealing them out!

Surprisingly, being a pal doesn’t work. And so she takes on the mother role and dresses up like Carmen Miranda and decks the whole apartment out like a scene from Havana. Again, where does she get these costumes and decorations?? The rents a freaking DONKEY! and Children! Who’s children are they?? Neighbor kids? The same kids from the Lucy plays Cupid episode?

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Also out of character, Lucy at one point says she has 2 left feet  and as a singer, sounds like she’s a bull moose trying to pull its foot out of the mud. Hmm…. in the very next episode (which we’ll get to) she says she’s a “wonderful” singer and dancer.

Notes:

Lucille Ball asked Carmen Miranda for permission to dress up like her and lip sync the song, “Mama  Yo Quiero.”

Familiar Faces:

Hank is played by Richard Reeves.You’ll later see him playing all different characters throughout the course of the show but he’s probably the most recognizable as Bill Foster in The Gossip. He also has bit parts in  The Publicity Agent, Lucy is Enceinte, The Indian Show, Equal Rights, The French Revue, and Tennessee Ernie Hangs On. 

Charlie, fellow poker player, is Tony Michaels who is later the laundry man in Bonus Bucks.