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I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 2 Blu-ray Review

I-love-lucy-ultimate-S2-bluray-coverU.S. Release (Region ABC)

The Series

[Rating:5/5]

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What is there to say about I Love Lucy that hasn’t been said already? From the golden age of television, the series launched on October 15, 1951 on CBS and the rest, as they say, is history. Starring real-life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as the Ricardos, Lucy and Ricky, and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as their best friends and neighbors, married couple Ethel and Fred Mertz, the series would officially run until April 1, 1960. We all know, however, that it has never stopped running in syndication all over the world since then and can still be seen on local and cable stations to this day. In 2002, TV Guide on their list of 50 Top Shows of All Time, listed I Love Lucy as number 2 (Seinfeld came in number 1, with The Honeymooners coming in behind I Love Lucy at number 3).

This second season of I Love Lucy continued to break new ground, with the “pregnancy” episodes (they could not say “pregnant” on TV at the time) and the heartfelt episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” ushering in the birth of the Ricardo’s new baby “Little Ricky,” which coincided with the real-life birth of Lucy and Desi’s own son. The season also contains the famous episode “Job Switching” wherein the wives trade places with their husbands for the day, Ricky and Fred becoming housewives, and Lucy and Ethel finding themselves a job at a candy factory. This set offers up the episode in no less than three viewing options: the traditional “heart-on-satin” version, the “original broadcast” version with promos, and a 2014 colorized version from a CBS I Love Lucy Christmas special.

All episodes from the season on this set are available in both the “heart-on-satin” and “original broadcast” versions.

Episode Listing:

  1. Job Switching
  2. The Saxophone
  3. The Anniversary Present
  4. The Handcuffs
  5. The Operetta
  6. Vacation from Marriage
  7. The Courtroom
  8. Redecorating
  9. Ricky Loses His Voice
  10. Lucy is Enceinte
  11. Pregnant Women are Unpredictable
  12. Lucy’s Show Biz Swan Song
  13. Lucy Hires an English Tutor
  14. Ricky has Labor Pains
  15. Lucy Becomes a Sculptress
  16. Lucy Goes to the Hospital
  17. Sales Resistance
  18. The Inferiority Complex
  19. The Club Election
  20. The Black Eye
  21. Lucy Changes Her Mind
  22. No Children Allowed
  23. Lucy Hires a Maid
  24. The Indian Show
  25. Lucy’s Last Birthday
  26. The Ricardos Change Apartments
  27. Lucy Is Matchmaker
  28. Lucy Wants New Furniture
  29. The Camping Trip
  30. Ricky and Fred Are TV Fans
  31. Never Do Business with Friends


Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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I Love Lucy Season 2 has been restored from its original 35mm camera negatives and the original broadcast versions (containing all original promos, etc.) also cull material from some 16mm and kinescope sources. Both versions look good, very goof in fact, given that this series hails from the 1950s. There is at times some roughness in the way of coarse looking grain and some soft detail, and the odd scratch that can be seen, but on the whole, I Love Lucy has never looked so remarkable. This set carries on the wonderful restoration began with Season 1 on Blu-ray. There is also a colorized version of the classic “Job Switching” episode available. While there may be some fans of colorization out there, I do not count myself among them. In comparison to the original black and white versions of this episode, the colorized version looks terribly fake, over-saturated, and with pasty skin tones. It also seems to emphasize the grain a lot more.

The series resides on this Blu-ray set in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 2 Blu-ray’s monaural soundtrack is supplied in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit). Despite the limited range and somewhat boxy sound, the audio does the trick for this material, with intelligible dialogue and little in the way of noise. It sounds surprisingly clean and clear given its age.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4.5/5]

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Ultimate Season 2 is packed with everything from a 2014 colorized version of the famous episode “Job Switching” to the I Love Lucy feature length movie, radio broadcasts, and newly discovered syndicated prints from around the globe. See below for more details.

  • Episode Guide

Disc 1:

  • 1952 Promo (1.33:1; SD; 00:01:56) – Rarely-seen promotion for the soon-to-start new season of I Love Lucy broadcast on August 25, 1952 at the conclusion of My Little Margie.
  • Flashbacks (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:52):
    • The Quiz Show
    • Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her
    • The Fur Coat
  • Audio Commentary for “Job Switching” produced in 1991 for inclusion on the Criterion Collection’s I Love Lucy LaserDisc features comments by director William Asher, writers Bob Carroll, Jr., and Madelyn Pugh Davis, stage manager Herb Brower, and TV historian Bart Andrews.
  • Bert Andrews Profile
  • “Job Switching”: Colorized Version – Originally broadcast on December 7, 2014 by CBS as part of an annual I Love Lucy Christmas Special.
  • “Job Switching”: French-Canadian Version – Recently discovered French-Canadian print of the famous episode for telecast in Canada.
  • “The Handcuffs”: 1955 Repeat (Open & Close) (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:42) – The episode repeated on June 27, 1955 to close the fourth season. Roy Rowan introduced the show and Lucy and Desi appeared at the end to say goodbye for the summer and ask viewers to watch the new summer replacement, the Desilu production comedy Those Whiting Girls, featuring Margaret and Barbara Whiting.
  • Flubs (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:42):
    • One Good Slip…
    • Not Yet, Lucy
    • The Magic Necktie
    • Backstage Boo-Boo
  • Lucy on the Radio (Audio Only):
    • Liz & George Handcuffed – The inspiration to the I love Lucy episode “The Handcuffs”, this episode was originally broadcast on CBS Radio December 30, 1949.
    • Women’s Rights (Part 2) – Originally broadcast on CBS Radio March 12, 1950, this episode inspired the I Love Lucy episode “Job Switching”. It features Frank Nelson as the employment agency clerk and Elvia Allman (the candy factory forewoman in “Job Switching”) plays a cleaning lady with whom Liz and Iris try to work.
  • Meet William Asher – A profile of I Love Lucy director William Asher.
  • Guest Cast Profiles
  • Sponsor Talent
  • Missing Scene – The original script for “The Operetta” included an additional scene, which was cut when the episode ran too long. These are the script pages for that scene.
  • Production Notes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Take A Bow (Credits)

Disc 2:

  • Stars in the Eye (1.33:1; SD; 00:05:34) – A star-studded gala for the opening of CBS Television City in Hollywood, originally broadcast on Saturday, November 15, 1952. The show, among other celebrities, features previously recorded comedy skits of Lucy (who was an audience member that night, choosing to remain so due to her pregnancy), Desi, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley.
  • CBS Eyes (1.33:1; SD; 00:00:14) – A promo for I Love Lucy broadcast on December 29, 1952, just after the original airing of “Lucy Hires an English Tutor”, using the new CBS Eye corporate logo, which had only been unveiled in October 17, 1951.
  • Syndicated Version (Open & Close) (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:12) – Recently discovered syndicated international(Canada & United Kingdom) print of the opening and closing for I Love Lucy episode “Redecorating”.
  • Flubs (1.33:1; SD; 00:01:28):
    • Get Back, Fred
    • The Wrong Name
    • Cue, Please!
    • McCall’s Loves Lucy
  • Lucy on the Radio (Audio Only):
    • Mrs. Copper Thinks Liz is Pregnant – This episode, featuring Eleanor Audley in the role of George’s mother, was broadcast on CBS Radio on May 21, 1950.
  • Behind the Scenes (Audio Book Featurette) – Book excerpts from Laughs, Luck, and Lucy by Jess Oppenheimer read by Larry Dobkin:
    • Writing “Lucy’s Show Biz Swan Song”
    • Writing “Lucy is Enceinte”
    • Larry Dobkin Profile
  • Guest Cast Profiles
  • Sponsor Talent
  • Production Notes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Take a Bow (Credits)

Disc 3:

  • Welcome Little Ricky (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:47) — The I Love Lucy broadcast of January 19, 1953, the day on which both “Little Ricky” Ricardo and Desi Arnaz, Jr. were born did not end with the usual closing commercial. Philip Morris instead decided to fill the airtime with this heartfelt message commemorating the birth of the Ricardo infant and congratulating his TV parents.
  • Heart Fund PSA (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:08) – This PSA aired after the March 23, 1953 repeat of “The Séance” and features Lucy and Desi.
  • Flashbacks (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:11:42):
    • The Diet
    • Men Are Messy
    • The Audition
    • The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub
    • The Séance
  • Flubs:
    • Nothing to Get Upset About
    • Another Number Please!
    • Name Changes
  • Lucy on the Radio (Audio Only):
    • Liz Becomes a Sculptress – This episode was originally broadcast on CBS Radio October 7, 1950, and inspired the I Love Lucy episode “Lucy Becomes a Sculptress”.
  • Behind the Scenes (Audio Book Featurette) – Excerpt from Laughs, Luck…and Lucy by Jess Oppenheimer with Gregg Oppenheimer, read by Larry Dobkin.
  • Larry Dobkin Profile
  • Meet Karl Freund – Profile of cinematographer Karl Freund (Dracula, Murders in the Rue Morgue) who worked on I Love Lucy.
  • Guest Cast Profiles
  • Sponsor Talent
  • Production Notes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Take a Bow (Credits)

Disc 4:

  • The Red Skelton Show (Clip) (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:24) – Red Skelton skit poking fun at I Love Lucy fans’ insatiable appetite for I Love Lucy merchandise, from May 3, 1953.
  • Flashbacks (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:49):
    • Lucy is Jealous of a Girl Singer
    • Lucy Fakes Illness
  • Spanish Main Title (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:23) – A recently discovered print of “Lucy Hires a Maid” that included opening titles in Spanish.
  • Flubs (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:06):
    • Good Old Mrs. Turnbull
    • Ghostly Numbers
    • Shadow on the Wall
    • Switching Bands
  • Lucy on the Radio (Audio Only):
    • Liz Changes Her Mind – This episode was originally broadcast on CBS Radio June 24, 1949. It inspired the I Love Lucy episode, “Lucy Changes Her Mind”.
    • Trying to Marry Off Peggy Martin – This episode was originally broadcast on December 2, 1950 by CBS Radio and inspired the I Love Lucy episode “Lucy is Matchmaker”.
  • Meet Richard & Ronald Lee Simmons – A profile of the twin babies that would play “Little Ricky”, debuting in “No Children Allowed”.
  • Special Baby Photo Gallery
  • Guest Cast Profiles
  • Sponsor Talent
  • Production Notes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Take A Bow (Credits)

Disc 5:

  • Flashback (1.33:1; SD; 00:01:03) – To allow the I Love Lucy company to have time off for the holidays during season 4, a couple of season 2 episodes were repeated. The Camping Trip was rebroadcast December 20, 1954, and included a reference to the Ricardos’ and Mertzes’ upcoming trip to California and the old car Fred had purchased in “Getting Ready” the week before.:
    • “The Camping Trip”
  • Flubs (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:38):
    • Hearts of Diamonds?
    • Movies or Fights?
    • Ethel’s Old Machine
    • Bouncing Tumble
  • Guest Cast Profiles
  • Sponsor Talent
  • Production Notes
  • Photo Gallery
  • Take a Bow (Credits)
  • I Love Lucy: The Movie (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 01:21:11) – In 1953, three classic episodes from season one of I Love Lucy, “The Benefit”, Breaking the Lease” and “The Ballet” were edited together with newly-filmed connecting scenes to create this feature-length film.
  • Meet Edward Sedwick – Profile of director Edward Sedwick, who directed the I Love Lucy movie.
  • Movie Guest Bios
  • Movie Notes


The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

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I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 2 is another fantastic release of this hilarious, classic sitcom that never gets old. The Blu-ray looks and sounds wonderful and is packed with extras. You need own this.

Additional Screen Captures

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