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I Love Lucy

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Ian Dunn
759224.  Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:28 am Reply with quote

I Love Lucy was one of the first sitcoms and ran in the US between 1951 and 1957. It was made even before Hancock's Half Hour, which began in 1954.

The series began with some difficultly. Star Lucille Ball and her Cuban husband (both on and off screen) Desi Arnaz had to fork out $5,000 of their own money to make a pilot. She was also pregnant at the time, but it was not referred to in the show.

However, perhaps the most interesting thing occured when with the series at full swing and at the age of 41, Ball revealed she was pregnant again. At first, Ball suggested that in the next season that her character Lucy Ricardo had a baby, but the idea horrified the makers of the show.

The makers where shocked by the idea of discussing any sort of bodily function on screen, let alone sex or pregnancy. The word "pregnant" was not used during the show, replaced with the word "expecting". The people most shocked were the show's sponsors, tobacco giant Philip Morris. Their executives even suggested that Lucy hid behind chairs so as not to show she was pregnant.

Eventually the makers of the show relented and said they could make "one or two shows" about the baby, but Arnaz demanded at least eight. They refused, so he wrote to the British boss of Philip Morris, Alfred Lyons. A fortnight later Desi was given carte blanche. It was later revealed that a memo by Lyons was sent to key employees which read: "To whom it may concern: Don't f*** around the Cuban! A.L."

The episode with Lucy giving birth was broadcast on 19th January 1953, the same day that Lucille Ball gave birth IRL. She gave birth to a boy, Desi Arnaz Junior, by Caesarean section.

The birth episode was broadcast on the same day as President Eisenhower's inauguration. The inaugration got 29 million TV viewers. I Love Lucy got 44 million. It has the third highest Neilsen ratings of any US TV programme in history, behind two editions of The Ed Sullivan Show (one featuring the first appearance of The Beatles, the other featuring the first appearance of Elvis Presley).

Sources: Television's Strangest Moments by Quentin and Ben Falk; USA Today

Last edited by Ian Dunn on Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:43 am; edited 1 time in total

759327.  Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:42 am Reply with quote


What's also interesting is that TV retains strict conventions on displaying any acts involving sexual congress and birth - whilst permitting the display of death in all its glory.

It is still prohibited to display a male erection on TV - but permitted to show a corpse or a violent death.

I can only assume that TV executives are a bunch of sadistic necrophiliacs with small penises and an inferiority complex

759353.  Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:01 am Reply with quote

Well, as that's probably what you assume anyway, I doubt anyone's much surprised.

759445.  Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:43 am Reply with quote

Probably not, but bob does have some fraction of a point here. I don't especially want to watch either thing on my television, but I'd be much less likely to get upset if it were sexual congress that were beamed into my living room. (Assuming the participants to be consenting adults, of course.)

Coming back to I love Lucy, that is just how conservative the major American networks were at that time. Not until 1985 (Courteney Cox, shortly after Dancing in the Dark) did anyone use the word "period" to refer to menstruation on American television.

761179.  Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:50 pm Reply with quote

I Love Lucy, even in its final episodes, was so funny that it was capable of producing what is the longest recorded instance of audience laughter (65 seconds). And, I have to say, it's one of the best sight gags I've ever seen. Ever.

761194.  Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:33 pm Reply with quote

That's still so funny.

Spud McLaren
761350.  Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:45 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
...TV retains strict conventions on displaying any acts involving sexual congress ...
bobwilson wrote:
...TV executives are a bunch of sadistic necrophiliacs ...
Shome dishparity there, shurely?

761356.  Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:57 am Reply with quote

"Sadistic necrophiliac" in itself is a bit of an oxymoron. "Yes, see me torture this person who is dead and therefore completely incapable of registering the fact!"

Ian Dunn
761358.  Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:08 am Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
"Sadistic necrophiliac" in itself is a bit of an oxymoron. "Yes, see me torture this person who is dead and therefore completely incapable of registering the fact!"

Not as bad as masochistic necrophiliac mind. Imagine someone burying up a corpse in the hope the deceased would tie them up and spank them.

761382.  Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:38 pm Reply with quote

Vitameatavegamin! It's so tasty, too.

762219.  Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:56 am Reply with quote

This clip, not from I Love Lucy but from The Nanny, is another great example of momentous audience laughter.

"Bucking for a raise?"

762225.  Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:44 am Reply with quote

♥ Niles was one of the most prominent English characters on American television in the 90s -- Daniel Davis isn't really English, but that wasn't common knowledge.

Here's another iconic scene. I was six years old when it aired and I laughed until it hurt.

762284.  Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:27 am Reply with quote

"You realize, of course, now I'm going to have to kill you."

Yes! Daniel Davis is from Arkansas. I believe I heard on a reunion show of The Nanny that CBS received many letters complaining that Charles Shaughnessy (now Baron Shaughnessy!) had a fake accent and that he should try to sound more like Niles!

I was seven when The Nanny debuted. Ahh, those were the days. :)


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