CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment mark the 108th anniversary of the birth of Lucille Ball by giving her fans (i.e., everyone) a present in the form of the August 13, 2019 2-disc DVD release "I Love Lucy: Colorized Collection." Attendees of the August 6, 2019 (actual birth anniversary) Fathom event ain't seen everything yet. The DVD set adds 11 episodes to the 5 in the theatrical presentation.
Both formats include the MUST-SEE 25-minute feature "Redhead Tales" on the advanced techniques and source materials used to colorize "Lucy;" the DVD goes on provide other bonuses that include a colorized skit in which all four stars sing "Jingle Bells" and a related animated commercial for series sponsor Philip Morris cigarettes. An amusing aspect of the latter is one of the colorized episodes has a scene in which Ricky has a pack of cigarettes tucked in BOTH of his rolled-up sleeeves. Yes, Arnaz does die of lung cancer.
The first aside in this tribute to this true collectible set is that CBS Home Entertainment is continuing its love of Lucy by releasing the complete series of her '80scom "Life With Lucy" (co-starring Gale Gordon) on October 9. 2019. An episode in which John Ritter fully embraces his charming accident-prone persona in playing himself is a series highlight and repays Ball for hosting a "Three's Company" retrospective.
"Life," which of course will be reviewed on this site, differs from the other three Lucy series in two significant ways. The most obvious one is that the earlier shows aired on CBS, and "Life" was an ABC program.
The less apparent difference is that the portrayor of Lucy Ricardo, Lucy Carmichael., and Lucy Carter considered "car" to be a good luck charm. Her wacky grandma character Lucy Barker in "Life" deviating from the pattern may have been a factor regarding that series not running as long as the others.
Returning to our primary topic, the controversy regarding colorization is easy to resolve. This technique, which has come a long way since its 16-color analog origin in the '80s, allows folks who are ok with it to see old favorites in a literally (and arguably enhanced) new light. No one is coercing purists to buy these new versions; it just comes down to a "paper or plastic" choice.
The most important thing to consider regarding "Lucy" specifically is that fully pleasing anyone is impossible as to a show that it so near and dear to the hearts and minds of generations of Americans.
There always will be people who will be unhappy with the quality of this SPECTACULAR digital colorization or with choosing one color or tone over another option. A subjectively valid point regarding this is that the trademark red hair of Lucy does seem unduly bright and orange. Other than that, the colors seem awesome, and the images are incredibly clear. A few seconds of patience is required while your player adjusts the image at the start of each episode,
The other inevitable bone of contention is the selection of the episodes, many of which appear in less enhanced versions as modern CBS network special presentations. All of the acknowledged classics are here and are supplemented with some that merely are hilarious,
Subjective criticism here is fractionally stronger than regarding the colorization. The inclusion of "Pioneer Women," "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," "Job Switching," "Harpo Marx," and "Lucy's Italian Movie" all are mandatory. The two-part "Lucy Visits Grauman's" and "Lucy and John Wayne" are among the subjectively valid inclusions.
It seems that "Bonus Bucks" in which the Ricardos and the Mertzes quarrel over ownership of a prize is merely a typical episode; as much as this seems to be heresy, "Lucy Goes to Scotland" is a bit too silly and somewhat boring to warrant "Top 16" status.
Further, having 7 of the 16 episodes set in Hollywood seems to be heavily weighted regarding those episodes (especially considering that no Florida or Connecticut episodes are represented) as opposed to the others. All of this leads to expressing disappointment that a personal favorite is not included.
A Connecticut episode in which Lucy must bring a flock of baby chicks inside her house and then act like a literal mother hen to herd them is exceptionally cute and funny. The regular series finale in which Lucy breaks a statue and puts herself on a well-deserved pedestal to replace it is a viable contender for colorization.
The most apt way to wrap up these thoughts on this release is to share two comments from "Redhead." CBS Home Entertainment "suit" Ken Ross discusses the history of colorizing "Lucy." His comment regarding the goals of these episodes including introducing a new generation of fans to the series perfectly mirrors the oft-mentioned mission statement of this site (nee Unreal TV) that it exists so that Lucy Ricardo and Ralph Kramden remain in the public consciousness.
A 38 year-old man who worked on colorizing the episodes shared the perspective that he first became aware of Lucy through copious media reports of her death in 1989. He added that he became a fan through his work on the episodes.
Another way of looking at this is that it is not true that everyone loves Raymond or hates Chris, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone does not love Lucy,