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Paramount Studios presents
I Love Lucy: 50th Anniversary Special (2001)

"[Lucy & Ricky] were…so a part of Americana. We knew them."
- Larry King

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: November 06, 2003

Stars: Lucille Ball, Dezi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Other Stars: Antonio Banderas, Cher, Richard Crenna, Andy Garcia, Whoopi Goldberg, Larry King, Jorge Moreno, Leah Remini, Paul Rodriguez, Roseanne, Arturo Sandoval, Lilly Tomlin, Dick Van Dyke, Barbara Walters, Henry Winkler
Director: Gary Smith

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:25m:22s
Release Date: October 02, 2002
UPC: 097368716247
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

For November sweeps in 2001, CBS took two hours out of its prime time schedule to pay tribute to a landmark television program that not only put the network on the map, it single-handedly innovated situation comedy.

I Love Lucy: 50th Anniversary Special is an energetic, loving, and informative look back at America's first favorite television twosome. Brimming with classic clips (including a top ten countdown of favorite episodes as voted by fans), remembrances from many of the surviving creative forces, and sincere testimonials from the likes of Cher, Larry King, master joke writer Bruce Vilanche, Paul Rodriguez, Barbara Walters and co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Dick Van Dyke. In addition to the obligatory inclusions longtime fans know to expect (extended looks at memorable story arcs, including the classic Hollywood-based episodes and the birth of Little Ricky), the special also takes time to look beyond the make believe world of the Ricardos to reveal two grassroots individuals who emerged from very humble backgrounds, including an emotional visit by surviving children Lucie and Desi Jr. to Lucille's childhood home in Jamestown, NY, and a revealing look at the younger years of Desi in Cuba (did you know that Arnaz Sr.'s father was the mayor of Santiago?). This latter segment also includes an extremely touching 1954 joint appearance with Lucy on Ed Sullivan's famed Sunday night variety show. On the verge of tears, the Latin legend expresses sincere gratitude to America on behalf of his family: "[When] we came to this country, we didn't have a cent in our pockets. From cleaning canary cages to this night here in New York, it's a long way…and I don't think there's any other country in the word that will give you that opportunity."

Other notables include capsule pieces on Lucy's underrated fashion sensibilities (a trademark of her cinema days), a tribute to the Arnaz's co-stars Vivian Vance and William Frawley, rare studio audience warm-up footage (intended for a big screen Lucy spin-off that fell through), an appreciation of Desi's Cuban influences on American culture, and a fun stop at a fan convention that serves as proof of the show's ageless appeal.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As Lucy would say, very tasty; barely a year old at the time of its release on DVD, the visual quality is nothing short of superb…and that extends to the motherlode of clips from the series which has been so well preserved over the years (see previous dOc reviews of the series' first season releases from Paramount for more background on just how sterling this series looks for a 50-year-old). Every element from the newly created footage to the most of the vintage material looks fabulous.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Though most of the highlight clips emerge through the center channel only, the special contains a huge amount of newly composed incidental music (including musical offerings from Desi, Jr. and Lucie and Latino singer Jorge Moreno) that's boosted by a boisterous Dolby Surround mix that has more presence than some full fledged 5.1 soundtracks. Rears are extremely well utilized and vibrant. About the only shortcoming one might have a quibble with is some static-like noise on the rare warm-up footage (where Desi introduces the cast), but that's evidently sourced based and a minor flaw the producers felt wasn't worth a major clean-up.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: With five seasons of episodes waiting in the wings (as of this review) from Paramount, is it any wonder that they're stockpiling extras for spreading across those discs? They could have slapped on some video press kit material or unedited interviews from some of the participants to flesh out disc capacity, but oh well…

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Eighty-five minutes is nowhere near enough time to cover the history of a television program that hit with the impact of I Love Lucy. 50th Anniversary Special succeeds despite the limitations and is a must have for longtime fans; a disc that will fit snugly against Paramount's ongoing releases of the adventures of Ricky, Lucy, Fred, and Ethel.


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