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Series / The Lucy Show

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The follow-up to the highly successful I Love Lucy, which aired for six seasons (1962–68) on the same network (CBS) as its predecessor. The series was loosely adapted from the book Life Without George by Irene Kampen.

Lucille Ball stars as Lucy Carmichael, a widow with two children, Chris (Candy Moore) and Jerry (Jimmy Garrett), who shares her house in suburban Danfield, New York with her divorced friend Vivian Bagley (Vivian Vance) and Vivian's son Sherman (Ralph Hart). Lucy had been left a substantial trust fund by her late husband, which was managed during the first season by Mr. Barnsdahl (Charles Lane), then by Theodore J. Mooney (Gale Gordon) during the next two seasons. Personality-wise, Ball and Vance's characters were effectively the same ones they played on I Love Lucy.

Recurring characters during the first season included next-door neighbor Harry Connors (Dick Martin), Vivian's beau Eddie Collins (Don Briggs) and Chris' boyfriend Alan Harper (Tom Lowell); all three were retired without mention by the second season due to the departure of their actors.

During the third season, as Vivian Vance cut back on her appearances, Ann Sothern made a few appearances as "Countess Framboise", the widow of a count who left her "his noble title and all of his noble debts" and who sparred with "Mr. Money" (as she called him) in her attempts to get money to cover said debts. This attempt at having Sothern replace Vance as co-star fizzled out when the former insisted on getting top billing alongside with Lucille Ball, who was against it. Chris, Jerry and Sherman, meanwhile, appeared much less frequently during that season.

At the start of the fourth season, with Vance gone for good as a regular, Lucy and Mr. Mooney moved to Los Angeles and Lucy began working for Mr. Mooney. The other characters were written out: Vivian remarried and stayed in Danfield with Sherman, Chris went to college and Jerry, while he made it to Los Angeles at first, was shipped off to a military academy after two episodes. A new character, Mary Jane Lewis (Mary Jane Croft), filled the "best friend" role previously assumed by Vance. During the fifth and sixth seasons, various guests stars appeared as themselves conducting business at the bank Lucy worked at, including a few appearances by Vance as her old character (now known as Vivian Bunson).

Ball ended the series after the sixth season in 1968; a new series, Here's Lucy, debuted in its place. This change was done for two reasons: one, to allow Ball's children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., to appear alongside their mother and two, because Ball felt enough episodes were produced for syndication. The fact that she sold Desilu Studios (the company that produced The Lucy Show) to Paramount also reportedly influenced the decision, as Ball didn’t want to continue a series she no longer owned; Here's Lucy was produced by her new company, Lucille Ball Productions.

For unknown reasons, 30 episodes of the series have lapsed into the public domain. These episodes were issued on home video by numerous public domain content distributors. Paramount themselves never issued any official releases of the show on VHS, it was only after Paramount's TV library was acquired by CBS that the show got official home video releases in the form of season sets, and later a complete series set, on DVD.

This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The Countess has a habit of calling Mr. Mooney "Mr. Money."
  • Amicable Exes: Totally averted. Not only was Ralph Bagley never seen, but Viv made many wisecracks and potshots about what a bad husband he'd been during the first season. (This was groundbreaking, as Vivian Bagley was television's first divorcée who was a series regular.)
  • The Artifact: "Based on the Book Life Without George by Irene Kampen." Though the basic plot of the early years was indeed modeled on Kampen's premise (two women sharing a house with their respective children), the major retool the series underwent in season four effectively severed any connection the series once had to the book. For legal reasons, however, Kampen's credit remained until the final episode.
  • Back to School: Lucy goes back to high school in the episode "Lucy Gets Her Diploma" after the bank institutes a new policy that requires employees to have a high school diploma.
  • Bank Toaster: Lucy demonstrates one to a potential account holder in the episode "Lucy Takes a Job at the Bank."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The end of "Lucy, the Gun Moll" has Lucy face the camera and address the audience, then take a bow with her co-stars.
  • The Bus Came Back: Vivian Vance made three guest appearances after leaving the show - once in season 5 and twice in season 6.
  • Call-Back: In "Lucy's Barbershop Quartet," Lucy receives a comprehensive (and comical) singing lesson from Dr. Gitterman. The following season, in "Lucy Teaches Ethel Merman to Sing," the lesson is repeated almost verbatim, this time with Lucy as the teacher and Ethel as the pupil.
  • Candy Striper: In "Lucy Plays Florence Nightingale", Lucy needs to get some money from the bank to buy Chris a dress for her first formal dance. Finding out Mr. Mooney is in the hospital with a broken leg, Lucy dons a Candy Striper outfit in order to get him to sign a check.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In "Lucy Meets Sheldon Leonard," Mr. Mooney refers to the TV series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. Jim Nabors made a cameo appearance as Pyle earlier that season.
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
    • Played with in season two. Ethel Merman portrays herself, but claims to be lookalike Agnes Schmidlapp to throw Lucy and Viv off the scent.
    • Chuck Willis and Arthur Finster both compete in a Robert Goulet lookalike contest (the joke being that Goulet portrays both of them).
    • Sid Caesar portrays both himself and his lookalike impersonator.
  • Clip Show: The season 6 episode "Lucy and Viv Reminisce" has Vivian come out to California to nurse an injured Lucy, where their reminiscences lead into clips from past episodes.
  • Chaos Architecture:
    • The layouts and setups for Lucy and Viv's bedrooms changed each time they appeared.
    • The set for Lucy and Viv's kitchen was heavily redesigned and expanded for the second season. Though that set would remain for the rest of the Danfield run, the stovetop and sink would frequently shift positions on the counter, depending on plot needs. (For “Lucy, The Disc Jockey,” the oven and refrigerator swapped locations for the same reason.)
    • The kitchen in Lucy's L.A. apartment also went through numerous redesigns to accommodate various plots.
    • Mr. Mooney's office at the Westland Bank was constantly changing throughout season four, until its design became fixed for the fifth season.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Harry Connors, Lucy & Viv's Danfield neighbor, disappeared without explanation midway through the first season and was never mentioned again. Ostensibly, the character was written out because actor Dick Martin had other commitments, and also because Lucille Ball didn't want a possible love interest for the Lucy character to be a series regular.
    • Other recurring characters, including Eddie Collins and Thelma Green, vanished after the second season.
  • Commuting on a Bus: The three children were used quite often during the first season, but their appearances progressively became more infrequent until, come the third season, they were barely featured. The following year, they were Put on a Bus for good.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "Lucy & Viv Reminisce," a clip show, featured Lucy and Viv discussing many past events in the lead-up to flashback scenes. As most of the clips were taken from season one, this was the first time the show acknowledged these past episodes in five years.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In “Lucy & Winter Sports,” Lucy mentions Bill King once took her duck hunting, which he did indeed do in season two’s “Lucy Goes Duck Hunting.”
    • When Lucy and Viv climb onto their roof to retrieve Greenback the cockatiel in season three's "Lucy Gets the Bird," Viv acknowledges the TV antenna they installed back in season one.
  • Crossover:
    • "Lucy and Bob Crane" includes a cameo appearance by Werner Klemperer, playing Colonel Klink from Crane's own series, Hogan's Heroes. Klink delivers his famous catchphrase from that show: "I know nothing! I see nothing! I hear nothing!"
    • "Lucy Gets Caught Up in the Draft" features a cameo by Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, his character from The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vivian Bagley.
  • Depending on the Writer: Lucy Carmichael's intelligence and level of competence varied greatly in the later seasons, when there was no longer a permanent writing staff.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Following the tradition of I Love Lucy, many episode titles are just one sentence plot descriptions (e.g. "Lucy & Viv Put in a Shower," "Lucy Takes a Job at the Bank" and "Lucy is a Disc Jockey," among others).
  • Expy: The writers had it in their contracts that Lucy Carmichael was to be based on Lucy Ricardo.
  • Flanderization: Lucy Carmichael became increasingly dumber and more incompetent as the series progressed, losing much of the confidence and craftiness she displayed earlier on. Likewise, Mr. Mooney became far more ill-tempered and histrionic compared to the relatively controlled (albeit frustrated) man of authority he was initially shown to be.
  • The Ghost:
    • Viv's ex-husband, Ralph Bagley, and her next husband, Vern Bunson, were referred to but never seen.
    • Mr. Mooney's wife, Irma. Eventually, the descriptions Mr. Mooney gave of her became so outlandish (7-feet tall, bowlegged, bald) that no actress could've played the part.
  • Here We Go Again!: This happens in "Lucy and the Ring-a-Ding Ring" when Mary Jane puts the ring meant for Mr. Mooney's wife, Irma, on her finger... but, just like Lucy did earlier in the episode, she winds up getting it stuck on her finger, much to Mr. Mooney's dismay.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Rare for a series from this era, but numerous outtakes from the final two seasons survived. These were included as supplements on the official DVD sets.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Unlike Lucy Ricardo, Lucy Carmichael could initially carry a tune, though she lacked training and technique. A crash course with Dr. Gitterman allowed her to do a respectable job singing the lead in a barbershop quartet contest. In later seasons, however, she was shown to be comically tone deaf.
  • Laugh Track: Averted for the most part. While the laughter of its predecessor was allegedly used on other shows, this one was filmed in front of a studio audience, with gaps in reaction and missed punchlines filled out with prerecorded laughter.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Lucy Meets Sheldon Leonard" has Leonard propose a series based on Lucy Carmichael, about a kooky girl who works in a bank and gets up to all sorts of misadventures. He then dismisses the concept, claiming nobody would believe it.
  • Locked in a Room:
    • Lucy and Mr. Mooney are locked in a bank vault together in the two-part episode Mr. Mooney debuts in. The next time it happens, which is in the second part, she manages to accidentally trap Mr. Mooney in by himself, With little food or water to speak of.
    • Lucy and Mr. Mooney again find themselves locked in a room together, this time with Countess Framboise, come season 4.
  • Military School: A positive version of the trope appeared in The Lucy Show. In "Lucy and the Military Academy", Lucy's son Jimmy goes to military school. Jimmy is sent home, not because he's unhappy. It's Lucy makes a nuisance of herself being unable to give him up. Jimmy would later be Put on a Bus to military school after the Retool (see below).
  • Monster Mash: The episode "Lucy and The Monsters" features several monsters from Universal Horror.
  • Opening Credits: Each season had different opening credits:
    • Season 1 featured an animated opening of Lucy and Vivian fixing up the title.
    • Season 2 featured publicity stills from previous episodes.
    • Season 3 featured clips from previous episodes, which were creatively edited. (An alternate version without Vivian Vance's credit was prepared for episodes in which she did not appear.)
    • Seasons 4 to 6 featured clips from previous episodes viewed through a kaleidoscope. The sequence was slightly revamped each season.
    • Early Season 5 episodes featured another animated opening, with Lucille Ball depicted as a "jack-in-the-box." This was intended to replace the kaleidoscope, but Ball reportedly disliked it. Some episodes following its retirement had the audio track play under the kaleidoscope footage due to poor editing. (Nearly 50 years later, the official DVD release restored this opening for the initial 10 episodes it was prepared for.)
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Mr. Mooney becomes this whenever his boss, Mr. Cheever, is around, or any potential client of sufficient wealth.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Mr. Barnsdahl at the beginning of season two.
    • Lucy's son Jerry half-way through season four.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Mr. Mooney's been angry with Lucy and her antics, before... but, "Lucy Sues Mooney" is where he displays the depths of his rage. When he sees who the court summons was given to him by, not only is he mad as fire, but Mr. Mooney looked to be a mix of betrayed and truly hurt by her actions as well, especially after everything he did to make her comfortable earlier in the episode. He becomes so mad at her, Mr. Mooney really fires her and chases her out of his office. The reason why this is so serious is because Mr. Mooney never actually means it, but here, he's not idly threatening to fire her. It even looked like Mr. Mooney was doing his best not to cry in anger. This is probably the one time where Lucy really hurt Mr. Mooney, even if it was on accident.
  • Retool: The fourth season saw a major retool of the series. Lucy and Mr. Mooney moved to Los Angeles and the former started working for the latter. Vivian and the kids were all written out.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: In one episode of Season 2, Lucy plans to (and does, on top of winning the case) sue Mr. Mooney after the sarcastic suggestion when Lucy demands that he kept his dog, Nelson, quiet or else and Mr. Mooney doesn't do anything about it. Lucy was no Phoenix Wright or Perry Mason to be sure, during the trial, but she managed to prove her case when Nelson barks and sets off all the other dogs outside the courtroom.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: In "Lucy and Clint Walker", Lucy's boyfriend Frank reveals that he once won second place in the spelling bee but was more interested in the second place prize, a pair of rollerskates, as opposed to the first place prize, a red sleigh, as he hates the color red. And tells Lucy this as Lucy plans to give him a red sweater as a birthday present.
  • Series Continuity Error: The original writing staff departed after season two, resulting in many previously established plot details changing in the show's later years. Examples include:
    • Lucy's maiden name was originally Taylor, but would later become McGillicuddy (which was also Lucy Ricardo's maiden name).
    • Lucy's son, Jerry, was erroneously referred to as Jimmy in season five (Jimmy Garrett was the actor who played Jerry).
    • Lucy dates an Italian millionaire in a season two episode, but come season six would claim to have never met a millionaire before.
    • Initially portrayed as a college graduate, Lucy would eventually be depicted as having never completed high school.
    • After moving to Los Angeles, Mr. Mooney claims to have never had a son, though his three sons did appear in Danfield.
    • In most episodes, Lucy could sing reasonably on-key, but became completely tone-deaf for “Lucy & Phil Harris” to accomodate the plot.
    • Averted in "Viv Visits Lucy." An earlier draft of the script had Viv refer to her husband as Charlie instead of Vern, but the line was dropped before filming.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Lucy & Viv Are Volunteer Firemen" has Lucy write a letter to Senator John R. Dodds, the name of Vivian Vance's real-life husband.
    • This wasn't the first time Gale Gordon played a bank president on a Lucille Ball program, having portrayed Rudolph Atterbury on Ball's radio show, My Favorite Husband.
  • Sitcom: Naturally, being the follow-up to I Love Lucy.
  • Situational Sociability: Carol Bradford, Lucy's temporary roommate in California, is painfully shy and socially awkward. Give her a song to sing, however, and she cuts loose completely.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Lucy can be this, sometimes. For instance, she wanted to be the leading lady in Cleopatra so badly, she set up a trap for the other Danfield Fire Dept. volunteers so they couldn't have a shot at being Cleopatra - by calling a practice fire drill which all of the girls, excluding her, had shown up to.
    • In another instance, Lucy thought she got in good with a Councilman named Bradley so that he could reimburse the girls of the Danfield Fire Dept. volunteers $325 for purchasing their uniforms. Too bad Lucy didn't count on him being a cheapskate, and when she suggested a paper drive, the only salvage-man in town had retired, and as a result, Lucy was nearly exiled from the volunteers as Captain had it not been for her paper drive idea.
  • Special Guest: Later seasons of this series had several per season, usually with the title "Lucy and (Name of celebrity)". A particular one came about in "Lucy and the Countess Have a Horse Guest," where William Frawley cameos as a horse trainer. This would be the last time Frawley would work with Ball before his death a year later.
  • Stealing from the Till: In "Lucy and the Bank Scandal," she wrongfully believes that Mr. Mooney would be as low as to embezzle money from his own bank, with nothing but circumstantial evidence and a shaky foundation to accuse him with at best. To prove that he is guilty of it, Lucy and Vivian try to find the money they think is buried in his backyard by digging up Mr. Mooney's backyard. Later, this accusation is subverted when it was in fact the oil tank for his oil-powered heater that they find instead and get everyone covered in oil when Lucy strikes the tank.
  • Straight Man: Vivian played this role at the start of the series. Mr. Mooney filled the part for the rest of it.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: "Lucy and George Burns" sees Lucy teaming up with Burns to do an act similar to what Burns used to do with his wife Gracie Allen; most of the third act is taken up by the show they put on. During his meeting with Mr. Mooney at the bank, Burns mentions the other comediennes he tried to team up with:
    George Burns: I had a great act going with Carol Channing, and then she left me, she went on Hello, Dolly! Then I did an act with Dorothy Provine, and then she went into television. And Connie Stevens went into pictures! note 
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Ill-tempered banker Mr. Barnsdahl, replaced by ill-tempered banker Mr. Mooney starting with the second season.
  • Three Cameras: With Desilu Studios being the ones that created the technique, it was only natural that this show would use it.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In the final scene of "Lucy Meets Sheldon Leonard", after Lucy has mistaken a robbery Sheldon Leonard is shooting as part of a television pilot for the genuine article and tried to intervene until Mr. Mooney sets her straight, Leonard asks Lucy if she's ever done any acting, because he suddenly has a great new idea for a series...
    Sheldon Leonard: You see, it would be about this, this kooky red-haired girl, see, and she works in a bank, and she gets into all sorts of impossible situations... and forget it, nobody'd ever believe it.
  • Written-In Absence: Vivian Vance's contract for season 3 called for her to appear in only 20 of the season's 26 episodes. For three of those episodes, it was mentioned that Viv was out of town, thus allowing Countess Framboise to stay in her room.
  • You Remind Me of X: In "Lucy & The Countess Have a Horse Guest," Lucy remarks that the trainer (Bill Frawley) reminds her of someone she used to know, an obvious allusion to Frawley's role as Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy.
  • Zany Scheme: A staple of every Lucy series.


Video Example(s):


Lucy's Dress Unravels

Lucy's dress gets caught in an elevator and unravels.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AllClothUnravels

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