I Love Lucy: The Ultimate Season 1 [Blu-ray]
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Here's how it all began-the classic episodes that started America's long-running love affair with everyone's favorite madcap redhead, Lucille Ball. Plus the rarely seen pilot episode that sold the I Love Lucy series. By the end of its initial season, I Love Lucy was TV's first bona fide smash-hit-the very first program seen in more than 10 million homes. America just couldn't get enough of this stunning new comedy talent-Lucy as a less-than-poised would-be ballerina in "The Ballet," Lucy battling the world's longest loaf of bread in "Pioneer Women," and Lucy in her greatest performance, as the health tonic-guzzling TV pitchwoman for "Vitameatavegamin" in "Lucy Does a TV Commercial." ("And it's so tasty, too!") Fall in love all over again, with the wild and wacky series that changed TV forever!
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Even though I already owned season one on DVD, I was curious as to how they could possibly improve on the picture. On the Blu-Ray, the image looks as though it's almost in 3D where the foreground really comes into sharp focus. I seem to notice more detail in the pattern of the furniture, walls, and the characters' clothes that I didn't seem to notice on the DVDs. There's a definite improvement in picture quality from watching I LOVE LUCY on video tape and even on reruns on television (when you jump from that to the DVDs), but it's a little harder to discern the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray.
You probably don't need to do the upgrade unless you're like me a die-hard I LOVE LUCY fan because the real difference in image quality is just that the foreground really pops on Blu-Ray, whereas on DVD the image is clear in both foreground and background.
I believe all the extras are ported over from the DVDs and this time the Blu-Ray allows you to watch with the actual sponsor commercials throughout. This is really interesting. I don't know if this is how it was done originally but the sponsor (in this case Philip Morris) is introduced in the beginning presenting the show and then talks about the product. During the first commercial break it goes back to talking about how great it is to smoke Philip Morris cigarettes, and then there's one more before the end of the show. I'm wondering if this is how I LOVE LUCY was shown back then, not just ILL but all shows, with one sponsor who gets to plug their product solely throughout the show.
It's entertaining and you get a kick out of the misinformation that Philip Morris was telling the audience. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing you can press the "Next" arrow on your remote to skip it and continue on with the show. You also have the option of just playing the "hear on satin" opening, which is what we're all used to, but then you don't get the cute animations and there's some toward the end of the season where Ball and Arnaz take part in the promos.
The Blu-Rays come housed in a regular sized clamshell case that holds all 6 discs, each Blu-Ray on their own holder, and the insert cover comes out so you can read episode information, synopsis and air date, for those who are looking for a certain episode.
Another great addition, I don't remember this on the DVDs, but on the special features here they discuss the supporting cast most were recurring actors/actresses who didn't have lines but were in almost every episode of I LOVE LUCY (like Hazel Pierce who Lucy fans will instantly recognize as she's in most of the background shots) so that was great to know.
I posted some pictures that I took of the TV screen showing the comparison in the special features of how the restoration has improved the video quality from what is being played on television now. The right side of the image shows the restoration, big improvement, while the left shows the image untouched.
Now that the price is almost half, I think any fan of I LOVE LUCY would love ULTIMATE SEASON ONE!
In season 1, there are many shows where both Lucy and Desi perform parts of the live act they took across the country to convince CBS that they were thoroughly believable as a couple, so these routines were already well rehearsed. It must be said that one of the underlying themes of the series is that Lucy has no talent even though she wants to be in show business. Of course the opposite is true, although Desi continues to tell Lucy she should stay at home. There are a lot of segments where Desi performs with his orchestra - this thread would be minimized in later seasons.
The studio audience often screams with laughter at the situations she finds herself in, and of course Ball reveals herself to be a major talent as a comedienne, dancer and part of a team with Desi, perhaps something that came as a shock since she was mostly known as a B-movie actress and radio personality up till then. Only a few times do we realize when these shows were made - the writers did not indulge in topical humor, which have made these shows timeless.
Of course, I hope it the remaining seasons come out soon.
The real reason to upgrade is, of course, the picture quality. Compared to the DVD, it is night and day. Even though Season 1 had some experimental filming problems (clips from the other seasons are noticably better in HD) it's still incredible that film this old can look this good. The audio quality is also significantly improved.
OVERALL: If you're a Lucy fan and feeling skeptical about dishing out that much dough for one season, trust me, it's worth it. I'm sure the restoration process was lengthy and expensive and the bonus features are so endless that you'll always encounter a new discovery. I'm hoping and praying that we'll see the other seasons soon, because one of the special features shows clips from the later seasons and the picture quality is jaw-dropping! Better than Twilight Zone.
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