Could you pick 10 best shows from TV’s first power couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz? Here are my 10 favorite ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes!
I Love Lucy was more than a popular sitcom: it was a show that helped revolutionize the genre on TV thanks to the three-camera technique and Desi Arnaz’s choice to record on film.
The three cameras allowed producers to select the perfect shot after the fact when the program was edited, and the film produced clearer copies of shows that could then be repeated across the country without having to rely on the old, less-attractive kinescope recording method.
Those films, and the show itself, continue to stand the test of time, more than 65 years after it made its debut on CBS.
I Love Lucy featured comedienne Lucille Ball and Cuban bandleader and singer Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky. Ricky led a band at a local nightclub and Lucy was always trying to get into show business, along with other crazy schemes. She was assisted in her antics by the couple’s landlords, the Mertzes, played by William Frawley and Vivian Vance.
Here are the shows I’d pick for my 10 favorite I Love Lucy episodes:
1. “Job Switching”
You know this episode for one of the most famous scenes in television: Ethyl and Lucy working in a chocolate factory trying to keep up with an out of control conveyor belt delivering an impossible number of chocolates that must be individually wrapped.
The premise of the episode is that the wives think that having a job is easier than having a job, so the husbands decide to let them see for themselves. Fred and Ricky, incidentally, fare about as well as housekeepers as the wives do as chocolatiers.
Despite Ricky’s protests, Lucy gets the chance to do a television commercial for “Vitametavegamin,” a health tonic that apparently tastes horrible but also happens to contain a large amount of alcohol. As Lucy battles through smiling for the camera despite the concoction’s taste and remembering her lines, said alcohol begins to kick in and hilarity ensues.
3. “Harpo Marx”
This was one of a series of episodes featuring the Ricardos and Mertzes out west, and Lucy has a one-on-one encounter with the legendary Harpo Marx. The famous “mirror scene” is worth a watch, as is Harpo’s incredible playing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his harp. Watch his face as he plays; you can tell he genuinely loves what he’s doing:
4. “Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her”
The fourth episode of the series finds Lucy engrossed in the mystery The Mockingbird Murder only to become convinced after reading the novel that Ricky is plotting her death.
5. “Hollywood At Last”
Determined to meet as many movie stars as possible once the group arrives in Hollywood, Lucy and the Mertzes have lunch at the Brown Derby. Lucy immediately becomes starstruck when she notices William Holden is in the next booth. But Lucy brings mayhem as only she can.
6. “Lucy’s Italian Movie”
While vacationing in Italy, Lucy gets the chance to play a part in a movie called Bitter Grapes. Assuming the movie must be about the Italian wine industry, she attempts to pick up some “local color” and ends up purple after a disasterous stint as a wine stomper.
7. “The Freezer”
Lucy and Ethyl enter a get-rich-quick scheme by buying a used walk-in freezer. But Lucy winds up getting trapped inside, transforming into a human icicle.
8. “The Fashion Show”
Lucy get the opportunity to model the latest coture in a fashion show, but accidentally overdoes it while trying to get a tan. Despite a horrible sunburn, she’s determined to go on with the show…even after learning she’ll be wearing a wool suit! Ouch!
9. “Paris at Last”
The foursome arrives in Paris after things go south at the border, only to have Lucy wind up being accused of passing counterfeit money. This scene, in which a unique solution to a language barrier is devised, is still one of my favorites:
10. “The Diner”
The Ricardos and Mertzes do something no group of friends should ever do: they go into business together. What happens next merely demonstrates the wisdom of the old warning against doing so.