Monday, February 16, 2009

Lucy & Kim & Craig & Harry

So I spend most of today rounding up the items I successfully brokered on eBay (I think “brokered” is a much more classy term than “sold”—don’t you?) and no sooner am I out the door and past the bank when I realize—idiot that I am—that the Post Office is closed today. They need to seriously consider passing legislation that would keep me off the streets here in Athens, because I clearly have no idea what the hell I’m doing sometimes.

This means I don’t have much in the way of heavy posting (though I am working on a vintage TV post that I hope to get up in the next day or so) today, but I did receive a couple of e-mails from TVShowsOnDVD.com that brightened my day considerably.

According to the website, MPI Home Video has planned a release of the domestic comedy The Mothers-in-Law, a brief bright spot that ran on NBC from 1967-69 and starred Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard in the title roles of Eve Hubbard and Kaye Buell. (To be honest, I’d be even happier if it this was an Our Miss Brooks release, but since I’m astounded that this forgotten show is in the DVD pipeline I’ll take what I can get.) Created by longtime I Love Lucy scribes Bob Carroll, Jr. and Madelyn Pugh and directed-produced by Desi Arnaz hizzownself (though OTR renaissance man Elliott Lewis also helmed several episodes), Mothers-in-Law was a slapstick-based sitcom romp that married off Ballard’s son (Jerry Fogel) to Arden’s daughter (Deborah Walley) and…well, as is frequently noted here at TDOY, the wacky complications ensued. Also in the cast were Herb Rudley as Eve’s hubby and Roger C. Carmel as Kaye’s better half; Carmel had a salary dispute with producer Arnaz before the return of the show for its second season, resulting in Carmel getting a pink slip and the part of Roger Buell assigned to TV vet Richard Deacon. (Many people thought Carmel was the better of the two actors in the role, and while he certainly had legitimate ground to challenge Arnaz re: his salary demands [he had a clause in his contract that granted him the right to a raise] I myself didn’t have a problem with Deac as his replacement—though it was unfair that Carmel was persona au gratin in television for years after that.) Mothers-in-Law has been available in bootleg form for several years now (I have a set that’s missing three of the fifty-six episodes) but the quality is poor and it will be great seeing this show in pristine quality via MPI (the date of the release was unknown as of this posting).

But the really big news coming from MPI Home Video is the company’s announcement that they plan to bring all six seasons of Lucille Ball’s third television hat trick, Here’s Lucy, beginning this summer (again, they’re a tad fuzzy with the details). Here’s Lucy has seen previous DVD action in the form of a “Best of” compilation courtesy of Shout! Factory in 2004, but the Factory’s rights to the sitcom warhorse have expired and so MPI will take its turn at bat with plans to release all 144 episodes on six season-by-season sets.

It’s good to hear that companies like Shout! Factory, MPI and Timeless Media are willing to eschew the bottom line to get forgotten television treasures into the hands of the public…particularly since you’re probably not going to see them on TVLand anytime soon. I do have to say, though; I’m surprised that Here’s Lucy has beat The Lucy Show to DVD (well, apart from the public domain Lucy Show episodes and an episode that was featured as an extra on one of The Untouchables DVD sets) because I figured once CBS-Paramount was done with I Love Lucy they’d be racing to get to Ball’s successful follow-up. The only thing I’m worried about is that most of the best moments of Here’s Lucy have already been released (on the Here’s Lucy: Best Loved Episodes set) and that the demand for the MPI sets may not be high enough to carry out the entire six season package. Still, this is Lucy we’re talking about—and I know I’ll do my part in purchasing them as they come. Now if only MPI would get to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir before it slips out of their hands…

4 comments:

Brad said...

If MPI was successful in getting out all of THE DORIS DAY SHOW and FAMILY AFFAIR, then surely there are enough hardcore Lucy fans out there for them to manage six seasons of HERE'S LUCY.

One reason HERE'S LUCY didn't fare as well in syndication as its predecessors is that it sat on the shelf for several years after its network run ended before being released. Ball's series THE LUCY SHOW didn't go into syndication until 1973 because CBS was rerunning the series as part of its weekday morning schedule until then. When HERE'S LUCY ended its primetime run a year later, Ball was understandably reluctant to release that series into syndication right away because she would have been competing with herself. So HERE'S LUCY sat on the shelf for five years, and aside from being the least popular of Ball's three 1951-1974 series, it was "old" by the time it was offered to local stations.

Linda said...

Good news about The Mothers-in-Law, at least the first season. I didn't hate Richard Deacon in the role of Roger, but Carmel was so off-the-wall in the role that it was hard to watch Deacon's more conventional portrayal. My favorite MIL episode is the one where they all stop speaking to one another and Eve Arden's husband Brooks Atkinson plays the psychologist who tries to bring them back together. The phone call scene with them trying to arrange for the session is hilarious. I also love the ep where Kaye and Eve sing "Down the Drain." I can still remember all the words to that routine...LOL. Then there's the ep with Desi Arnaz as the bullfighter...

Linda said...

::cough:: That's "Brooks West." Sorry.

link digger said...

Good news on the Mothers-in-Law and Here's Lucy. Although I didn't like Here's Lucy as much as The Lucy Show's first three seasons (with Vivian Vance and Gale Gordon). Rumor has it that CBS is going to release "The Lucy Show" season one to DVD this Spring? See my website, http://www.unknownhighway.com for info on that rumor. Thanks for the good news day