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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > TV Special > Lucy Calls The President (1977/MPI DVD)

Lucy Calls The President (1977/MPI DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: A     Main Program: A



Lucille Ball on the origin of the special Lucy Calls The President in May 1977:


“I’ve been doing specials that were different kinds of comedy dramas than the Lucy shows.  I did a couple with Carney, I did that show with Gleason-trying to play my age, trying to do something they would believe and buy.  Well, they didn’t buy it-not really.  What the people seemed to want was Lucy again.  Now I’m faced with doing two more specials for next season, and I thought: “Oh, God, not that again.  Then I decided the hell with anything different-I’ll do a Lucy Show.” 


In this special, taped before a live audience and infused with a laugh track, Ball played an Indiana housewife who gets through to President Carter on one of his phone-ins and invites him to dinner.  Although he doesn’t come Miss Lillian makes a separately taped guest appearance at the end of the show.  The special features Lucy’s trademark physical comedy routines.  She gets soaked by lawn sprinklers, has her front teeth knocked out, lands her feet in potato salad and sits on a cake.  Familiar routines with Ball playing the saxophone are worked into the plot.   


The highlight was seeing Lucy reunited with her former series co-stars Vivian Vance, Gale Gordon, Mary Wickes and Mary Jane Croft (though oddly Miss Croft is not billed with the others at the beginning of the special but is the first listed on the end credits).  The old gang stills works well together and the special is enjoyable.  Ed McMahon, playing Lucy’s husband, fits in well as does Steve Allen portraying himself.  Gordon is especially comical as his character is a staunch Republican in a sea of Democrats.   


It was written by Lucy’s long time writer’s Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll Junior.  Television audiences responded favorably to the special as it landed in thirteenth place during the week it aired. 


Also appearing on the DVD is a dress rehearsal of the special, a Lets Talk To Lucy radio show, Lucy’s appearance on The Tonight Show which features Johnny Carson’s appearance on Here’s Lucy (on one of the previous sets I reviewed) and an informative interview with character actor James E. Brodhead.  Brodhead appears as the mayor on the special and he talks about his experience working with the entire cast.  He also recalls working with Ball on Mame and episodes of Here’s Lucy.  He recalled how people warned him about working with Ball calling her a “dragon lady.”  He didn’t find the dragon saying she had “total knowledge of what she was doing.  She knew what was funny.” 


If you’re in the mood for nostalgia and physical comedy, I recommend this DVD.



-   Fred Grandindetti


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