Still in Love with Lucy

by Thomas Watson

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Fellow Lucyfans,

The Best TV Show Ever!

How wonderful that I Love Lucy was named the "Best TV Show of All Time" AND the "Best TV Comedy of All Time" in an on-line poll conducted by ABC News and People Magazine. The winners were announced this past Tuesday evening on a special edition of 20/20 with Barbara Walters.

It's nice the rest of the world has validated what Lucy fans have known for 60 years! What makes these "wins" all the more special is that I Love Lucy HAS stood the test of time. It was at the top of the ratings charts back in the 1950s when it first aired... and it has remained popular around the world ever since. There has never been a time when the show was off-the-air, mouldering in a film vault somewhere. For over six decades it has been a part of our TV lives.

Whenever I think of polling, I am reminded of the fact that during the spring of 1958, after I Love Lucy had been out of production for a year, CBS conducted a poll of its own -- asking some 155 newspaper TV-critics and columnists to choose THEIR all-time-favorite Lucy episodes. The thirteen highest vote getters were then pulled together and aired over the summer as the replacement series for the vacationing Danny Thomas Show -- returning Lucy to its original Monday-at-9PM time period.

CBS (somewhat mysteriously) called that summer show The Top Ten Lucy Shows. (I guess that had a snappier ring to it than The Top 13... ???)

So... which episodes did the 155 newspaper columnists select? Eyeballing the list, one sees a few familiar favorites... "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" (Vitameatavegamin), "Lucy's Italian Movie" (the grape stomping episode), "Lucy Raises Chickens" (the eggs in the blouse)... But mysteriously missing is "Job Switching" (the chocolate factory show), today considered by many fans as perhaps THE most famous Lucy of all time. Also missing is "L.A. At Last," the famous episode in which Lucy meets William Holden at The Brown Derby, and later disguises herself with a putty nose!

What was the 155 newspaper columnists' choice as the "most popular I Love Lucy episode of all time" (their words, not mine)? "Tennessee Ernie Visits" !!!

Number two was the Bob Hope episode set at Yankee Stadium, and Number Three was "Face to Face," the take-off on Edward R. Murrow's Person to Person.

All three of these are fine shows, but I seldom see them on anyone's all-time-favorite list today...

But even as viewers change their opinions about individual episodes, it is nice to know that the series itself still stands as the yardstick against which all others are measured.

Congratulations I Love Lucy! Once and always -- simply the best!

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