I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 is one of the best new re-issues of 2014. The latest re-issue of the series’ debut season is everything that audiences had hoped for in the original DVD release of Season 1. Not only does it boast all of the original Season 1 episodes carried in the original DVD box set, but it also boasts far more. That is the primary factor that makes this set such a surprise. The quality of the footage looks exceptionally clean, too. Just as with Paramount’s recent release of The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1 on Blu-ray, the original grainy quality of the footage is there. But, it has been cleaned up at the same time without losing any of that vintage look. And last but not least of all, the new re-issue’s packaging rounds out the whole thing, making this set complete. Each of the factors noted here by themselves presents its own positive. Combined, they make I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 quite the aptly titled set.
More often than not, box sets whether they be for movies, TV shows or even CDs, rarely live up to the hype. That’s because in so many cases, said entertainment platforms get multiple box sets with much the same material in each release. So at first glance, one might think that this would apply with the newly re-issued first season of I Love Lucy on Blu-ray. One couldn’t be more wrong in this case. I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 is one of those extremely rare re-issues that deserves of its title. I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 deserves its title first and foremost because of the sheer volume of material included in this set as compared to the previously released Season 1 DVD box set. The new Season 1 Blu-ray box set includes all of the original episodes of I Love Lucy’s first season, naturally. It also contains the relatively rare pilot episode in which audiences are offered bonus commentary explaining the series’ roots. Those roots go back apparently to Lucy’s radio show, My Favorite Husband in which Richard Denning (The Black Scorpion, An Affair to Remember, Mr. & Mrs. North), not Desi Arnaz, played her husband. And instead of the main characters being Lucy and Ricky, it was Liz and George Cooper who took center stage so to speak. On a related note, Paramount and CBS have made available as part of this set’s extensive bonus material, two episodes of that radio series for fan enjoyment and to hear the role that My Favorite Husband played in the creation of I Love Lucy.
The addition of the two bonus episodes of My Favorite Husband alongside the rarely seen pilot episode of I Love Lucy and its commentary are but a mere portion of the immensity of the material included in this set. Audiences are also treated to profiles of the figures featured in the original ads that accompanied the series. What’s more, the original ads for Philip Morris cigarettes are there, too whereas today, there’s no way ads for tobacco products would dare be shown on television. This is one more important part of the vast amount of material included in what is justifiably titled “Ultimate.” Just as impressive is the inclusion of the series’ original stick figure openings along with the more well-known heart-on-satin openings. As if all of this isn’t enough, there are also episode specific commentaries that add even more depth and value to this set. All that, along with gag reels, makeup tests and other extras, are enough by themselves to make this box set even more worthy of the title “Ultimate.” Of course one would be remiss to ignore the quality of the footage in the set’s re-issue. It too plays a role in the success and enjoyment of I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1.
Paramount has made a habit of setting the bar in terms of the look of those movies and TV shows that it has released and re-issued to Blu-ray. Anyone that has seen the studio’s 2011 BD re-issue of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures or the recently re-issued Andy Griffith Show: Season One will agree to that. A single look at I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 reveals that the look of this re-issue is no different. The original grainy quality of the show is still there. It’s just been cleaned up a little bit. But it hasn’t been cleaned to the point that it has lost that vintage charm, either. Those charged with re-mastering the footage or its presentation here are to be commended for the painstaking efforts taken in order to balance the original look with something cleaner, essentially paying homage to the work put in by those that originally filmed the series. To that extent, the balance of the old with the new, alongside the magnitude of material included in this BD set makes this set even more a potential candidate to be one of the year’s best new box sets for adults or even for families. Both factors are equally important in the grand scheme of this set by themselves and collectively. There is still one last factor to consider in the set’s success. That factor is the set’s packaging.
Anyone that recalls the original DVD box set presentations of I Love Lucy’s six seasons will recall the size of those boxes. The boxes in question were anything but ergonomic. They took up a lot of space. The people at Paramount and CBS realized this and has sincere-issued all six seasons in smaller cases for their DVD presentations. The BD set is around the same size as those re-issued DVD box sets if not smaller. It is roughly the same size or smaller because Blu-ray discs can hold more information on each disc. This means reduced need for resources and in turn, reduced box size. So not only do audiences get even more material in this new re-issue of I Love Lucy’s first season, but they also get a box that takes up less space. That is the proverbial cherry on the top of this classic TV treat. Together with the set’s content and the solidly balanced footage quality, the packaging completes the whole package and makes it a definite contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s top new box sets both for families and adults.
I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered via the official I Love Lucy Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/I.Love.Lucy. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.