The Lucy Show

TV classics: The Lucy Show

USA 1962-68, six seasons, 156 episodes 30 minutes each, CBS, black & white (first season) and color (seasons 2 through 6). Narrated by: Roy Rowan, Cast: Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, Gale Gordon, Mary Jane Croft, Candy Moore, Ralph Hart, Jimmy Garrett, Dick Martin

Plot summary:  Lucy Carmichael, a widowed mother of two, lives with her divorcée friend Vivian Bagley and her son. Together, they master the ups and downs of everyday life, including money troubles and men.

Review: On Monday, Lucille Ball would have turned 101. In loving memory of a comedienne who has remained popular for many decades on television until today, I have decided to have a look at her first show without Desi Arnaz, The Lucy Show which is available on DVD (some of you may be pleased to know).

Two years after the completion of Lucy-and-Desi-Comedy-Hour in 1960, Lucille Ball returned to playing another incarnation of her famous Lucy character on CBS. Starting out in black and white and insisting on her original I Love Lucy time slot on Monday nights, Ms. Ball and her network did not expect her new show to last longer than a season. Reunited with co-star Vivian Vance from her previous hit show, her new format, however, was instantly embraced by her audience, as well as by the industry, rewarding her with a two Emmy awards and two additional nominations.

Starting out as a widowed mother of two, the new Lucy lived with her best friend Vivian, TV’s first divorcée mother, and had to face the challenges of everyday life as a single parent. Undergoing many changes in casting and plot throughout its six successful seasons, The Lucy Show proved to be a steady favorite on CBS and featured guest stars such as Ann Sothern. Shot in color from its second season on but broadcast in black and white till 1965, the show also did well in ratings until Lucille Ball bowed out of her own show after selling Desilu Productions. She moved on to star in Here’s Lucy for another six years, a show her new production company Lucille Ball Productions owned the rights to and thus continued the tradition of Lucille Ball having control over own program.

The Lucy Show sample episode

Our Miss Brooks

TV classics: Our Miss Brooks

USA 1952-56, 4 seasons,  130 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS, black & white. Created by: Al Lewis. Cast: Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Jane Morgan, Robert Rockwell, Richard Crenna, Gloria McMillan

Plot summary: Connie Brooks is an English teacher who fights a daily battle of sarcasm and wits with her students and colleagues, landlady and principle while all she’s really after is love.

Review: Originally introduced on radio in 1948, Our Miss Brooks was a big comedy success for Eve Arden and her talented cast of fellow actors. Moving on to television in 1952, the cast remained almost completely intact as they continued to entertain their audience with great approval. On TV (and radio respectively), Robert Rockwell succeeded Jeff Chandler as Connie Brooks’ love interest Philip Boynton. He was later replaced by Gene Barry as Gene Talbot when Miss Brooks moved from a public on to a private school in 1955 to change the setting and tone (Miss Brooks switched roles from pursuer to pursued). These alterations were not particularly well received by the audience and ultimately broke the show’s neck. Philip Boynton’s mid-season return did not prevent cancellation but the character appeared in the follow-up movie in which he then finally got married to the leading lady in 1956.

Our Miss Brooks was one of the first hit shows on television, popularly rerun for several years. The show was praised by its audience and critics alike and lived on in its original form on radio until 1957. Our Miss Brooks was a witty, smart and entertaining show which introduced a female lead who was capable in her job, warmhearted and feminine. She was groundbreaking as a working woman on television, a teacher who did address many realistic issues of her profession in a comedic way. She was also competent, funny and independent in her job, a direct contrast to a predominance of housewives and mothers. Our Miss Brooks did not glorify teaching or working girls, nor did it belittle traditional homemakers. The program offered an insight into a woman’s life outside of the home, a lady who handled her students and colleagues with sarcasm and wit.

Today, fifty-five years after going off the air, Our Miss Brooks is every bit as entertaining as it used to be although our realities and perception of working women have changed. Eve Arden’s performance is still gripping and hilarious, her repartee genuine and priceless, the supporting cast supportive in the best of sense, adding to the program’s top notch quality. So if you’ve been unfamiliar with Our Miss Brooks so far but like to to be entertained in a smart and amusing way, then give Connie Brooks a chance to win you over. She’s a classy lady whose comebacks may knock you off your feet while she’s trying to allure her future husband.

Our Miss Brooks sample episode and Our Miss Brooks feature film

More info: Our Miss Brooks radio program and Our Miss Brooks website.