Thursday, October 15, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Lucy!

The early days of a TV empire.
Hard to believe it's time to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the classic of all TV classics, I Love Lucy. But in fact American audiences were introduced to Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred on October 15, 1951, when "The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub" aired on CBS. Although not the first episode filmed, it was chosen as the best one to help the show find its audience.

Fittingly, anniversaries were the topic of that premiere episode, as the wives clash with their husbands on how to observe the Mertzes' 18 years of marriage. When the girls refuse to celebrate at the boxing ring, Lucy threatens to find escorts who will take her and Ethel somewhere more appealing. Ricky calls her bluff, and says he and Fred will also find dates for the evening. Thanks to some typical Lucy Ricardo scheming, the guys end up with their own wives in disguise, as a hillbilly gal and her Maw.

Not all critics warmed to this new situation comedy, but audiences embraced Lucy and her companions from Day One, and there's seemingly no end in sight to that love affair. Not all TV shows from the 1950s play well today, but you're a stronger character than I am if you can watch an episode of I Love Lucy sixty-odd years later and not crack a smile.

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