Aired: October 15, 1951 - May 6, 1957
Starring: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley
I Love Lucy is the grandmother of all modern sitcoms. In 1951, TV's landscape was full of variety and live shows. The new medium was still fledgling and some thought it may not survive. Lucille Ball, a red haired B-movie actress, and Desi Arnaz, a Cuban bandleader, were married in real life and wanted to spend more time together. They pitched the sitcom idea about a scatterbrained redhead housewife married to a Cuban bandleader but CBS didn't think audiences would accept the "mixed" marriage. So they took their show on the road and were so popular with audiences, CBS was convinced it would work as a television sitcom.
There are more groundbreaking ideas connected to I Love Lucy than any other sitcom in TV history: the use of the shooting on film and using the multi-camera technique pioneered by Desi Arnaz and others is the reason we can still watch I Love Lucy today. Most shows then were filmed on kinescope and were filmed live and if prints even exist at all, they are in poor quality. I Love Lucy was also one of the first shows to use reruns during the summer instead of replacement shows. And when Lucille Ball became pregnant in season 2, she was the first pregnant actress to play a pregnant character. The birth of Little Ricky on the show is one of the all time most watched episodes of any show.
I Love Lucy went off the air in 1957 and has been seen in syndication or cable ever since (it is currently airing on the Hallmark Channel). The saddest part to the story was that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz did the show so they could spend more time together and it ultimately tore them apart. They created an empire in Desilu, one of the 1950s busiest production studios and Desi's stress in running the company led to his alcoholism. They divorced in 1960. Although I Love Lucy gave them (and us) more than they ever imagined, it didn't give them what they originally wanted. Still, their legacy lives on over 50 years later and will continue to thanks to the brilliant 179 episodes that paved the way for television comedy.
THE 10 BEST EPISODES OF "I LOVE LUCY"
Close Calls - #18 "Breaking the Lease," #27 "Kleptomaniac," #75 "Too Many Crooks," #126 "Ricky Needs an Agent," #153 "Return Home from Europe," #177 "Country Club Dance"
|"The Golf Game"|
Lucy and Ethel want to play golf with Ricky and Fred in this very funny episode that gets increasingly funny as Ricky and Fred come up with trickier and more ridiculous rules that Lucy and Ethel follow. But the girls get back at them using real-life golf pro Jimmy Demaret.
9. #101 "Mr. and Mrs. TV Show" (first aired April 11, 1955) - originally scheduled for 11/1/54
Ricky and Lucy along with the Mertzes get to do a live TV show called "Breakfast with Ricky and Lucy" in an episode with many classic moments, but the best parts are the initial run-through where they present an idyllic home life and the run-through that Lucy tries to ruin to get back at Ricky for tricking her. Both are hilarious in different ways.
8. #82 "Sentimental Anniversary" (first aired February 1, 1954)
Ricky and Lucy plan to spend a quiet anniversary together but the Mertzes are planning a big surprise party. This episode is great because it highlights the love that Lucy and Ricky have for each other (as well as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) especially the tender moment as they celebrate quietly in the closet while the party guests wait to surprise them in the living room.
7. #64 "The Camping Trip" (first aired June 8, 1953)
An underrated episode, Lucy wants to spend more time with Ricky so she goes camping with him. Ricky plans to make it so hard for her, she won't want to go again but Lucy gets wind of it and enlists Ethel's help to make things seem easy. There are some great moments between Ricky and Lucy here especially when they go turkey hunting.
6. #114 "LA at Last" (first aired February 7, 1955)
In the fourth season, the show began a long story arch where the cast went to Hollywood because Ricky was starring in a movie. These episodes boasted tons of famous movie stars who wouldn't dare appear in any other TV show other than the immensely popular "Lucy." The first episode in Hollywood is an all-time classic when Lucy is starstruck at the Brown Derby. William Holden makes a memorable guest appearance and the accidental lighting of Lucy's nose is a great TV moment.
5. #72 "Lucy Tells the Truth" (first aired November 9, 1953)
|"Lucy Tells the Truth"|
4. #50 "Lucy is Enceinte" (first aired December 8, 1952)
"Enceinte" means "pregnant" in Spanish and was used because the network censors did not want them to use the word "pregnant" on the air as they were treading new waters when the pregnant Lucille Ball was playing the pregnant Lucy Ricardo. This episode where she first finds out really makes its mark as a classic at the end when Ricky sings "We're Having a Baby" to Lucy at the nightclub and the real life husband and wife tear up even when they were initially instructed to laugh by the directors/writers. It's a beautiful moment.
3. #29 "The Freezer" (first aired April 28, 1952)
"The Freezer" has many funny moments - Ricky's pompous looks as Ethel begs him to sing, Lucy getting stuck in the freezer at the end and being instructed not to cry. But what makes this episode is Lucy's sales pitch in the meat market. Another very classic Lucille Ball moment.
Lucy comes up with a get rich quick scheme by bottling and selling Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing in this underrated episode. From Lucy's aliases on the commercial (Lucille McGuillicudy and Isabella Klump) to Ricky crying as he sits near the onions and adds up the girls' expenses, it's hilarious from start to finish.
1. #30 "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" (first aired May 5, 1952)
|"Lucy Does a TV Commercial"|