|Category||Television Comedy||Theatrical Trailer(s)||None|
|Year Released||1966, 1967||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||126:36 minutes||Other Extras||Introduction - Milton Berle|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||No||Dolby Digital||2.0 mono|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Lucille Ball was arguably the greatest American comedienne of the Twentieth Century, and has become almost an iconic figure in American television history. Her supreme comedic ability was evidenced by the fact that the three shows for which she is best remembered were each ratings successes and to this day continue to be repeated on television around the world. I Love Lucy originally ran from 1951 to 1955, The Lucy Show originally ran from 1962 to 1968, with Here's Lucy running from 1968 to 1973. It is doubtful that we will ever again see a comedienne with the ability to star in top rating television shows spanning a period of twenty three years. Her death in 1989 left a void in American comedy that is unlikely to be filled and the fondness with which she is remembered is evidenced by the fact that Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando both have (or had) exhibits dedicated solely to this great performer.
The episodes on offer here come from seasons 5 and 6 of the series and were first broadcast in 1966 and 1967. All of course star Lucille Ball as Lucy Carmichael with the wonderfully droll assistance of Gale Gordon as Theodore Mooney (her boss), as well as the ever cheerful Mary Anne Croft as Mary Anne. The exact episode details, from the cover slick, are:
Since these originated for television, the transfers are presented in a Full Frame format, and they are not 16x9 enhanced.
The five episodes show a marked degree of inconsistency in presentation. In general, these are not at all well defined transfers and they are anything but sharp: I guess that soft is probably the best way of describing them. This is unfortunately the result of inherent problems with the master tapes, and I think it is fair to say that the reference on the rear cover to these being "digitally mastered from the best available sources for the highest quality possible" is stretching things just a little. Whilst I have no doubt that it would have been difficult to locate anything resembling a pristine master, these episodes exhibit enough flaws to suggest that extremely limited restoration work was employed in the digitalization process. The transfers are not especially clear and, as one might expect from over two hours of video being presented on a single layer disc, compression problems are present. Not really serious but enough to suggest that perhaps four episodes and a bit more care (and restoration) would have been beneficial. All episodes exhibit the fade-out to black screens where the television adverts were to be inserted, which is a little disappointing (although true buffs will probably rejoice at this). Episode 3 displays a very noticeable video tracking problem at 11:50.
The colours are very inconsistent, and in general show a degree of paleness that is a little disappointing (after all Lucille Ball had the most marvellous red hair). The first episode however is quite oversaturated colour wise and comes up probably the best with a richer tone to it - a pity that it is followed by the worst of the undersaturated episodes, with almost no colour definition at all. The fourth episode is a little on the overbright side, which has resulted in some wash-out in the colours. Overall, it is a pity that a degree more consistency was not possible in the colours. One episode displays a strobe-like effect in colouring which is a little off-putting.
As I said, there is a degree of compression problems inherent throughout the five episodes - nothing too gross and not too distracting, but certainly present. There were no apparent film-to-video artefacts. Unfortunately, this is film artefact heaven and all episodes are riddled with all sorts of dirt marks and scratches and so on - the opening titles are especially bad. They really do get a little too distracting at times, and it is unfortunate that some cleaning up was not done before the mastering took place for this DVD.
The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.
There did not appear to be any significant audio sync problems.
This is a very blatant mono soundtrack, but thankfully is free from any hiss and any significant degradation of the soundtrack. There are a few inconsistencies in the audio level throughout, but overall I found this to be acceptable given the age and source of the audio. You can forget your surround speakers and subwoofer here - they are just sitting there enjoying the comedy with you. It is very much like watching the original television show from a sound point of view.
A barely acceptable video transfer.
A reasonably acceptable audio transfer.
Not much in the way of extras.
© Ian Morris
24th January 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|