I love Lucy. You love Lucy. Everyone loves Lucy. And if you don’t, go hang out with the Grinch, please.
CBS, original home of the 1951-1957 series, has a clever bit of Lucy programming for the holidays, “I Love Lucy Christmas Special,” on Friday, Dec. 20.
Lucy fits the holiday special mold of family-suitable, and Santa hats are involved. The special features two episodes, both from 1956: “The Christmas Episode” and one of the all-time favorites, “Lucy’s Italian Movie.”
The episodes are colorized, which could incite purists to revolt. Take heart, though.
The colorization is excellent. Even Lucille Ball’s hair, a shade of orange rarely found in nature, is right.
Though it’s initially jarring to see their apartment colorized, the colors suit the times, shades of gray and slate walls. Lucy’s flannel shirt, what she would have worn at home, is a blue plaid, and Little Ricky’s feety pajamas are mint-colored.
The first episode, set on Christmas Eve, was considered lost until CBS rediscovered it in 1989. Lucy and Ricky (Ball, Desi Arnaz) are trying to hustle Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux) to bed so they can create Christmas magic.
There’s no mention of what happened to the piano, usually under the window, and the furniture is moved to the side to accommodate a tree.
Fred and Ethel (William Frawley, Vivian Vance) arrive with a tree. The four set about to decorate it, and the ongoing gag is that Lucy tells Fred to trim a branch on one side, then it’s lopsided, and he trims it until it’s a tree even Charlie Brown couldn’t love.
As they decorate, the four reminisce. Cue the harp music and flashbacks. They go back to the day Lucy found out she was pregnant — though, of course, that word was not used.
In “Lucy Is Enceinte” (French for “pregnant”), originally shown Dec. 8, 1952, Lucy goes to the doctor, feeling “dauncey” and found out she was, indeed, having a baby. She tried to tell Ricky all day, and when she couldn’t, she went to his nightclub, the Tropicana, and had a note passed to him.
“My husband and I are going to have a blessed event, and I just found out today,” he reads out loud. “I’ve heard you sing, ‘We’re Having a Baby.’ Would you sing it for us?”
The hammy bandleader can’t resist, and sings the lovely song. When he gets to Lucy at her table, solo, she nods. It takes Ricky a few beats to comprehend that he is the dad-to-be. The scene that follows, with Lucy misting up and dancing with her husband, is among the most genuine and sweetest moments of the run.
The Christmas episode ends with Little Ricky waking up Christmas morning. The four – all dressed as Santa, plus one extra, quite magical Kriss Kringle – watch from the kitchen.
The second episode isn’t seasonal, but is an all-time fan favorite. The Ricardos and the Mertzes are traveling in Italy, squeezed into a train compartment. A man keeps scoping out Lucy.
Turns out he’s not a masher but an Italian director who wants to cast her in a movie, “Bitter Grapes.” Lucy goes off to “soak up local culture” wearing a peasant skirt and blouse, a kerchief and dangling earrings. Even making wine, she is glam.
Initially, Lucy likes dancing around squishing grapes, but she tires. The other woman (Teresa Tirelli), who speaks only in Italian, gets annoyed at her laziness. The two wind up in a knockdown fight, rolling around in the grapes. When Lucy staggers home, she’s purple.
And in this version, viewers can see that.