Paramount Home Entertainment deserves oodles and oodles of back-slapping praise for the "tender loving care" treatment it has shown toward the pioneering television sitcom "I Love Lucy", and the remastering effort that has been put into all of the complete-season DVD boxed sets of that series.
In just a two-year period (2004-2006), Paramount released all six seasons of the series in deluxe, feature-packed DVD sets....and each season set looks just great.
The 180 black-and-white episodes that can be found in this "I Love Lucy: The Complete Series" 30-Disc mega-collection have been cleaned up to near-pristine clarity. The shows look gorgeous on all of these DVDs.
The "Lost Pilot" for "Lucy" is also included in this "All Seasons" set (and it has a lengthy running time of over 34 minutes too). The Pilot was evidently lost and unseen for decades, prior to a 16mm print of the program luckily being unearthed in 1990. The video quality of that Pilot broadcast is not up to par with the other regular episodes in this six-season collection, but it isn't terrible quality either.
Being able to see Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's first-ever episode on DVD is a real treat, and I'm glad that Paramount has put the Pilot on the Season-One set. It's great fun to see, especially the final scene with Lucy on stage with Ricky at Ricky's nightclub. The seemingly ad-libbed banter between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is fabulous. (As is the "plunger" gag, which was perfectly implemented by Lucy in that scene.)
I'll have to admit that when Paramount started issuing the full-season compilations of "I Love Lucy", I had no intention at all of buying all six seasons of the show. But after initially buying Seasons 4 and 5 (the years with the gang in Hollywood, which are my favorites), I found myself wanting all six seasons. The many bonus features that have been added to each of these DVD sets was certainly a major reason for my wanting to get all of the seasons.
In addition to the crystal-clear episodes themselves, this Complete-Series DVD aggregation sports a wide variety of fun-to-peruse supplemental items, such as:
38 Complete Episodes of Lucille Ball's Radio Show ("My Favorite Husband"); Audio Commentary Tracks (on some discs); Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes; Lost Scenes; Deleted Footage; Script Excerpts; Guest Cast Information; Original Opening Credits; Original Animated Sequences; Restored Music; Promotional Spots; Production Notes; Photo Galleries; Song Selections; Colorized Christmas Show Scenes (from Season 6); Isolated Bloopers (i.e., clips from episodes containing goofs/flubs); Spanish Audio Tracks (on most episodes).
Holy mackerel! It'd be hard to ask for more than the above large batch of extras for a TV series that first aired from 1951 to 1957, huh?
My favorite bonuses are the many "My Favorite Husband" full-length radio programs that have been included as audio extras on each and every DVD. As a rule, Paramount has placed one radio show on each disc, but some discs have more than one. The first-season set, in fact, contains a total of 13 radio shows. Very nice indeed.
As I mentioned, the fourth and fifth seasons of "I Love Lucy" are the top years of the series as far as my "Lucy" tastes are concerned. And I think a lot of other people concur with that assessment about the "California Trip" episodes being the best the series has to offer.
That's not intended to diminish the excellence of some of the other classic programs in the six-year life of this sitcom either, of which there were quite a few, without doubt. But the 20-plus episodes which had the Ricardos and the Mertzes living in Hollywood (in 1955) are the cream of the Lucy crop in my view. I find myself re-watching the Season-Four and Season-Five programs more than any others.
"I Love Lucy" has long been considered by many people to be the greatest television program ever to enter American living rooms. It was certainly trend-setting in a number of ways, including its multi-camera filming technique. That crazy-acting redhead named Lucy Ricardo has seemingly never lost her appeal.
And I kind of doubt she ever will lose that magic "something" that keeps viewers coming back to see her again and again in these 180 TV episodes that comprise the "I Love Lucy" franchise. With these six stupendous seasonal sets of "ILL" on the DVD market, how COULD any sitcom fan lose interest in Mrs. Ricardo and company?
So why not just quit fighting the temptation, and set aside the green stuff with which to purchase this darn-near-perfect "I Love Lucy: The Complete Series" DVD collection? Each and every episode has been well cared for on these DVDs, the packaging is great too, and there are so many bonus features here, it's difficult to know where to start.
Paramount Home Entertainment -- I salute you. These impeccable, jam-packed "I Love Lucy" sets are bound to get a lot of air time in my DVD player....for years to come.