on September 23, 2006
Season #4 of "I Love Lucy" is, in my opinion, the best year of that forever-endearing (and enduring) television comedy series. The fourth season of Lucille Ball's first TV series originally aired on CBS-TV between October 1954 and May 1955, and includes most of the "California Trip" episodes (the last few of which spilled over into the first part of Season 5).
Paramount Studios has issued an outstanding DVD product in "I Love Lucy: The Complete Fourth Season", which includes all 30 shows from the series' '54-'55 TV season. And all of these episodes look fantastic on the DVDs too. I can't find any major video or audio blemishes to complain about. There might be a few here and there; but I haven't spotted them yet.
Each of these black-and-white episodes is shown in its proper TV ratio of 1.33:1; with the audio being presented in strong-sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (as it should be).
To quote from the back of the box, these uncut episodes have been "magnificently restored and digitally remastered". After watching them, I'd have to definitely agree with that blurb too.
This 5-Disc collector's set comes handsomely packaged in a durable slipcase box, which holds five plastic cases (the slim type). Each case features different artwork, as well as an appropriate amount of episode information.
And Paramount hasn't been stingy when it comes to special bonus features on these discs either. There is a generous bundle of bonus items here, making this set feel even more like a true "collectible".
Extras include --- An "Audio Featurette", Restored Music, Original 1950s Animated Sequences, Song Selections, Production Notes, Flubs, Original "I Love Lucy" Opening Titles, Spanish Audio Tracks on most episodes, Guest Information, and 5 full-length "My Favorite Husband" Radio Shows (starring Lucille Ball and Richard Denning).
An equal number of extra features (and sometimes even more) can also be found on the other five complete-season "I Love Lucy" DVD boxed sets that have been distributed by Paramount. Overall, I'd say that the six "ILL" sets are some of the very best TV-on-DVD collector's editions that have yet been produced for the home-video market.
Each of the Lucy sets sparkles radiantly in every respect. It's obvious that Paramount and its "CBS DVD" division put a significant amount of time and special care into the production of the six DVD sets in the "I Love Lucy" franchise, and that special care shows each time I cue up any of these discs.
Lucy's 4th season begins with "The Business Manager" and ends (in California) with "The Tour". About one-third of the way through this season, the Ricardos (along with their good friends and neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz) begin to prepare for their trip to the Golden State. There are numerous funny episodes as the foursome gets ready for their lengthy journey, but this season really switches to high gear once they reach Hollywood, where many movie stars pop up (and are introduced to the red-haired menace named Lucille).
Some of the Season-Four episodes that make my "Best Of I Love Lucy" list include these:
1.) "Ricky's Contract" (December 6, 1954) .... Ricky is a nervous wreck as he anxiously awaits a call from Hollywood concerning his movie contract. According to Ricky, this whole "thin" has him on "pins and niddles".
2.) "Getting Ready" (December 13, 1954) .... This episode has the gang still in New York, just prior to leaving on their California excursion. Ricky (regrettably) lets Fred shop for the car that will transport them to the west coast. Fred's choice of automobiles doesn't exactly thrill the group, to say the least. .... "Let's get out of here before we have to ride the engine bareback."
3.) "First Stop" (January 17, 1955) .... Hilarious antics abound in this classic "ILL" entry when the Ricardos and Mertzes spend the night in a rickety (and very noisy) motel on their way to California. The "moving bed" scenes always provide ample amusement here; as does the scene in the restaurant, where the only thing available on the menu is the "special" (i.e., cheese sandwiches that are probably as old as the aged geezer serving them up). This is a great episode in the "I Love Lucy" archives.
4.) "L.A. At Last" (February 7, 1955) .... Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel finally arrive in Hollywood, California (after their lengthy cross-country car trip, which had its fair share of adventure and funny episodes too). "L.A. At Last" is also the classic show which has William Holden getting smacked with a pie at The Brown Derby (thanks to Lucy). This episode has got to be one of the best-ever "ILL" shows. It's the one I end up watching the most, that's for sure.
5.) "Don Juan And The Starlets" (February 14, 1955) .... Lucy is all upset when Ricky doesn't come back to the hotel after a night of partying (or so she thinks).
6.) "The Fashion Show" (February 28, 1955) .... Lucy talks Ricky into letting her buy a dress at a fancy dress shop (the "Don Loper Salon"). .... "You cannot explain five hundred dollars for one dress! Take it back!" --> "I can't." --> "Why not? Don't tell me it was on sale?!"
7.) "The Star Upstairs" (April 18, 1955) .... Cornel Wilde puts in a guest appearance as the "star upstairs", and Lucy just HAS to cook up a scheme to see him (naturally). The "ventriloquist" scene with "Bobby the Bellboy" (played by Bob Jellison) is a highlight of this episode.
8.) "The Tour" (May 30, 1955) .... Lucy and Ethel's bus tour through Hollywood ends with the usual "Lucy's In Hot Water" mess. Richard Widmark guest stars. The funniest part of this show (IMO) is when the aggravated bus driver/tour guide shoves his microphone in Lucy's face ("...and I hear she wears nothing but black lace lingerie...what ARE you doing?"). LOL.
"I Love Lucy: The Complete Fourth Season" is as good as this TV series gets, in my view. It's a season that is packed with many highly-memorable episodes with Lucy and Ricky (and assorted friends, relatives, and movie stars of the 1950s).
If funds were in short supply, and I could only afford to pick up one season of "I Love Lucy" on DVD, I'd have no hesitation in making it this 4th-year boxed set. It's a dandy.
"Just wait till 'Mickey Richardson' hears about this!" ~grin~