Fandom Flashback: ‘I Love Lucy’

1:30 pm EDT, March 31, 2014

Hypable’s Fandom Flashbacks returns as we look back to the days of the comedy classic, I Love Lucy.

Fandom Flashbacks are a weekly Hypable feature that takes a look back at old shows (classic, vintage, and freshly dead) and takes our readers onto memory lane as we express our favorite moments, characters, and plots.

SHOW SYNOPSIS

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Lucy Ricardo is your typical 1950s housewife… well, mostly. Lucy is married to a Cuban band-leader named Ricky, but though Mr. Ricardo is a budding star in the New York entertainment scene, the couple remains firmly middle-class. They rent a typical brownstone apartment from their best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz, who offered them a 99-year lease after meeting them.

greenquoteLUCY: RICKY, WE’RE REVOLTING!
RICKY: NO MORE THAN USUAL.

For the first few years of the series, life is pretty uneventful for the Ricardos and the Mertzes. (In between all of Lucy’s crazy schemes, of course.) The birth of Lucy and Ricky’s son in the second season only brings the group of friends closer together. In the fourth season of I Love Lucy, Ricky’s career as a singer, drummer, and actor begin to take off. To Lucy’s delight, Ricky attracts the attention of Hollywood executives, and the Ricardos and Mertzes head off for several months in California. (Many celebrities were scarred in the presence of Lucy Ricardo.)

After their time on the West Coast, a European tour sweeps the group off on more marital adventures in season 5. Fresh off their return in season 6, Lucy decides to move her family out of their brownstone and off to a house in the Connecticut countryside, where the quiet initially disturbs them. The Ricardos are incomplete without the Mertzes, however, and eventually the older couple become Lucy and Ricky’s tenants in their guest house. As the series closes, it looks like life in the country – though something of an adjustment – will suit them all hilariously well.

THE CHARACTERS

synopsisheader One of television’s most successful foursomes, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Fred and Ethel Mertz became an archetype for friendship and fighting, wedded bliss and murderous married moments.

LUCY3 LUCY RICARDO
Though on the surface she seems like your average 50s housewife, Lucy Ricardo has more than one surprise up her sleeve. A vortex of red-haired hilarity, Lucy dreams of stardom, hatching plot after plot to hop on her husband Ricky’s entertainment success. Lucy is also never far away from her best friend and partner-in-crime Ethel, with whom she cooks up schemes, stalks celebrities, and plays a mean game of canasta.
RICKY RICKY RICARDO
Lucy’s husband, a successful band leader and drummer from Cuba. His insistence that Lucy remain a housewife is the source of much conflict and humor, as are his accent and frequent outbursts in Spanish that punctuate Lucy’s crazy schemes.
ETHEL ETHEL MERTZ
Lucy’s best friend and landlady. A talented singer and dancer, Ethel used to perform on the Vaudeville circuit with her husband Fred. Now she manages the apartment building and – in between spats with Fred – is always there when Lucy gets that crazy look in her eye.
FRED FRED MERTZ
A stingy crumudgeon, Fred spends most of his time figuring out ways to save money and bickering with Ethel. But beneath that gruff facade, Mr. Mertz is really an old softie. He is fast friends with Ricky, loves a good song-and-dance number, and will do anything for his godson, Little Ricky.

BEST CHARACTER

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Though the entire cast of I Love Lucy is uniformly hilarious, there can be no doubt that Lucy herself (Lucille Esmerlda MacGillicuddy Ricardo, as she is occasionally known) must take the title of best character. Lucy is a dreamer, a schemer, and firebrand, never taking no for an answer. Though her skills at singing are questionable and her husband Ricky wants nothing more than to keep Lucy miles away from show business, the indomitable redhead is incapable of giving up on her dream to become a star. (Unlucky for Ricky, perhaps, but very lucky for the audience indeed!)

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“Spider” was the term used in the script to indicate Lucy’s classic “Eeeewww!” face.

And though her musical talents never improve (remember that unfortunate incident with the trombone?) Lucy eventually does manage to pull off a few wins in the performing arts category. Performing with Bob Hope at the Tropicana, dancing with Van Johnson in Hollywood, and catching the eye of an Italian director may not be super-stardom, but it’s definitely tons of fun.

And though Lucy and her exasperated husband Ricky do bicker frequently, the strength of their marriage can never be doubted. Though Lucy’s crazy schemes sometimes have unexpected consequences (we’re just going to say “Vitameatavegamin” and leave it there) she always managed to keep things exciting. From New York to Hollywood, from Europe to Connecticut, the housewife and the band leader always managed to persevere. For crying out loud, they wear matching pajamas!

Lucy is also fiercely loyal to her best friend and landlady, Ethel Mertz. Though Ethel sometimes plays the long-suffering sidekick, there is nothing she and Lucy wouldn’t do for each other. Lucy often takes Ethel’s side in contests of will between the married Mertzes, and even their spats (which occasionally involved ripping each other’s dresses to shreds) were usually inspired by the closeness of their friendship. As Ethel (and Fred) followed Lucy (and Ricky) around the world and back, it became clear that while Lucy’s marriage to Ricky was the heart of I Love Lucy, it was her unwavering friendship with Ethel that was the soul of the timeless comedy.

BEST EPISODE

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In “Sentimental Anniversary,” Lucy and Ricky decide to celebrate their anniversary with a quiet dinner at home – in secret. But a wrench gets tossed into their plans when it turns out the Mertzes have a surprise party planned for their best friends. What’s a sitcom couple to do?

The answer, it turns out, is loudly leave their apartment and then sneak back in for their dinner… a plan that is interrupted when Fred and Ethel arrive to set up their surprise. Lucy and Ricky find themselves trapped in their hall closet as the Mertzes set up the party, and their guests begin to arrive.

After several unsuccessful – but hilarious – escape attempts, Lucy and Ricky drink champagne by candlelight in the closet. After Ricky distracts the guests, the Ricardos stage their return, and get to celebrate their sentimental anniversary with their friends.

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LUCY: WE’VE ONLY BEEN MARRIED 13 YEARS!
RICKY: OH WELL, I MEAN, IT SEEMS LIKE 15!

“Sentimental Anniversary” is an episode that showcases the best that I Love Lucy had to offer. The storyline provided a twist on the formula of Ricky forgetting his and Lucy’s wedding anniversary; instead of arm-twisting and hint-dropping, the strength and love of Lucy and Ricky’s marriage is a central point of the episode. Both spouses go the extra mile to make each other happy on their anniversary. From the anniversary espionage, to the candle-lit dinner in their hall closet, “Sentimental Anniversary” presents Lucy and Ricky as a true team, capable of loving each other in spite and because of the hijinks they get up to together.

The episode also highlights Lucy and Ethel’s friendship, as well as the bond between the Ricardos and the Mertzes. Though Lucy starts off the episode by hilariously haranguing Ethel for information on her gift, the Mertzes still pull out all the stops to throw the Ricardos a surprise party – even if they fudge the numbers a bit on that cigarette lighter!

“Sentimental Anniversary” is also a genuinely hilarious episode. The dialogue is as snappy as ever, and Lucy and Ricky’s accidental imprisonment in the hall closet adds the slapstick element that I Love Lucy always did so well. The scene of their near-escape is not usually added to the list of Lucy’s funniest moments, but we really think it should be.

FUNNIEST MOMENT

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Another excruciating choice for such a brilliant comedy, but we’ve decided to go with one of the classics. Lucy’s hilarious turn as “The Vitameatavegamin Girl” made instant television history, thanks to a brilliant set-up and phenomenal execution by Lucille Ball, and we had to choose this scene as our funniest moment.

The Vitameatavegamin scene, from the episode “Lucy Does A TV Commercial,” is part of one of Lucy’s many schemes to make it into show business. This time, however, Lucy gets more than she bargained for. In a clever twist, the directors of her commercial reveal that Vitameatavegamin has a 23% alcohol content… a fact that they neglect to tell Lucy.

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The Vitameatavegamin was actually apple pectin – and alcohol-free!

Planting the seeds of disaster only makes Ball’s performance even more impressive. The audience is already primed to expect the drunken behavior that Lucy tumbles into as she slurps down more and more of the gloopy potion. The potential for humor grows exponentially as the complicated script for the product is revealed, it becomes clear just how much Vitameatavega-booze Lucy will have to swallow. (But hey – at least it tastes like candy!) Thanks to Ball’s incredible comic timing, Lucy more than delivers the laughs we are led to expect.

Next: Emotional moments and changing times–>

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Bonnie remains one of very few non-blood suckers on The Vampire Diaries, but she has still made her way through the supernatural catalog. We’re taking a look at her best, and worst, supernatural identities.

You may think that one of the Salvatore brothers has the most diverse life experiences amongst The Vampire Diaries characters, since they’re each older than the rest of the characters combined, but you’d be wrong! It’s actually the mortal Bonnie Bennett that is really getting the full look at what this life (and death) has to offer. From human, to witch, to anchor, to more than her fair share of deaths, she’s tried on almost every supernatural hat available.

No matter what supernatural box she’s checking on her driver’s license at any given time, Bonnie is an integral part of the Mystic Falls crew, and has saved the lives of our other heroes countless times! She is a great friend, and girlfriend, and can usually be counted on for a witty remark. That being said, she has definitely gone through her ups and downs, and some of her supernatural titles have fit her way better than others. We’ve ranked all of Bonnie’s supernatural identities, from the ones she could stick with, to the ones that she should never, ever go back to.

1. Witch — season 1 to early season 4, mid season 6 to late season 7

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

Of course, Bonnie’s best role is the one she was born to play. Ever since she learned she was a witch, she has only grown stronger in her powers and better at wielding them. Salvatore and co. truly would be nowhere without her magic, which is evidenced by the number of times “Call Bonnie!” is yelled at the TV screen when the gang is in trouble on The Vampire Diaries (it can’t just be me).

Bonnie is at her strongest and happiest when she is a witch, but that’s not the only reason we’ve chosen this as her best supernatural identity. Bonnie Bennett’s witchiness has always been one of the coolest parts of The Vampire Diaries mythology, and has led to some of the most exciting and entertaining storylines on the show.

2. Human — her life before ‘The Vampire Diaries’

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

When we first met the young Bonnie Bennett, she was just beginning her deep dive into the magical realm. She had discovered that her ancestors were from Salem, and that the women in her family were supposedly witches, but she still thought she was just some sort of psychic.

Before she had even heard of a Bennett witch, she was just a normal, happy, high school student, whose only concern was figuring out who the new cute boy in school was! Her powers definitely helped her come into a strength that she hadn’t known before, and gave her endless opportunities to save the people that she loves, but they’ve also led her into a lot of darkness. Just because we imagine her as being much less burdened as a human, we’ve ranked this one pretty high!

3. The Anchor — mid to late season 5

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

The anchor to the other side was perhaps Bonnie’s strangest supernatural title, and that’s really saying something. Bonnie had to endure a lot of pain during her time as the anchor, but after an extended period of being dead, she was just happy to talk to people that weren’t Jeremy again (we’d get sick of all that teen angst, too).

Her ability to interact with the dead supernatural beings allowed us some amazing glimpses of characters that we had loved and lost, and it was also interesting to explore Bonnie’s character without her magical abilities. Even though we’re still angry that she didn’t realize earlier that Katherine wasn’t dead, we’re putting this one among the best of Bonnie’s supernatural identities for its uniqueness.

4. The Huntress — late season 7 to undetermined

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

This one goes in the middle because we’re still not quite sure what to expect from it, but we’re really excited for it! Rayna got a bad reputation because she was trying to kill everyone we cared about on The Vampire Diaries, but her mythology was interesting and it’ll be cool to see Bonnie try to figure it out.

Her relationships with literally everyone she knows will surely be tested when she attempts to kill them, but it’s nothing Miss Bennett can’t work through. On top of all the cool huntress stuff that we saw in Rayna, Bonnie will be bringing her magic to the table as well, which will make things even more entertaining.

5. Dead — late season 4 to mid season 5

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

You may think this one should be at the bottom of the list, but in our opinion, Bonnie has faced some things that were much darker than death. That’s especially true because Bonnie looked pretty damn good for a corpse, as evidenced by the above picture of her in this state. We still got to see Bonnie on The Vampire Diaries through Jeremy’s eyes, since he gained the power of seeing ghosts the first time Bonnie brought him back to life. You know what they say: the couple that resurrects together, stays together.

Strangely, Bonnie’s awkward dead phase wasn’t the most hopeless that we’ve seen her. She died for something that she believed in, and mostly remained optimistic that she would get to come back, somehow. Also, Bonnie’s death was kept from the bottom of the list because we got Bonnie’s funeral during this time, which is still one of the most beautiful scenes ever on The Vampire Diaries.

6. Expressionist — season 4

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

This is the term we’re using for the time that Bonnie was under the influence of the magic known as “expression.” When creepy Professor Shane helped/forced her to tap into this magic after she had lost her powers, Bonnie made some of the worst decisions that she ever has on The Vampire Diaries.

If anybody is a moral compass on the show, it’s Bonnie. She is always trying to help her friends, and do the right thing, even if it leads to her death (and it seems like it usually does). She made many questionable choices and participated in some very dark events during her time using expression.

7. Citizen of 1994, population: 3 — early to mid season 6

the vampire diaries, bonnie bennett

So yes, technically, she was dead in 1994, too, but it was such a different death experience that we thought it deserved a separate category. Sure, it was all fun and vampire pancakes when Damon was there, but things got pretty depressing for BonBon after he returned to the land of the living.

We thought things were bad for her when she was being used by the sadistic siphon, Kai, but things got much worse when the extreme loneliness and hopelessness set in. The days leading up to Bonnie’s eventual rescue were by far her darkest on the series, and it was extremely difficult to watch her go through that much pain.

What was Bonnie’s best supernatural identity on ‘The Vampire Diaries’?

The movie adaptation of Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood, under Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s production company Fickle Fish Films, has found its lead stars.

The Anna Dressed in Blood movie has cast Cameron Monaghan (Showtime’s Shameless) as Cas Lowood, and Maddie Hasson (ABC Family’s Twisted) will play Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood will be directed by Step Up: All In and OK Go’s “Here it Goes Again” director Trish Sie.

“Finding the right actors has been top priority,” said Sie in a press release. “It’s critical we achieve just the right tone and identify the magical combination of people that brings crackling electricity to these characters and their story.”

Added Stephenie Meyer, “We literally searched the world for over a year to find the perfect actors to bring this genre-spanning story to life. Cameron and Maddie, both so talented individually, together have that rare and extraordinary chemistry that lights up the screen. Trish Sie has the perfect background to visually translate Kendare Blake’s compelling story in a way that speaks to the modern viewer.”

A synopsis for the film sets up the premise: Cas Lowood (Monaghan) has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly dagger, Cas travels America with his mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the angry dead, and keep pesky things like plans for the future and friends at bay. Searching for a ghost the locals call ‘Anna Dressed in Blood’, Cas finds a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. Since her death, Anna (Hasson) has killed each and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian house she used to call home, yet there is something about Cas that compels her to spare his life. For reasons neither can explain, the two begin to realize that in their opposite, they may have finally found the one person who can help them unravel their complicated pasts, and survive their complicated present.

Fickle Fish Films is also responsible for Austenland in 2013, and has optioned the rights to Down a Dark Hall and Not a Drop to Drink.

Your number is up. It’s time you started watching Person of Interest.

Person of Interest season 5, the show’s final season, premieres tonight at 10:00 p.m. on CBS. It’s hard to imagine why CBS, a network with a flare for running procedurals well into double digit seasons, is not paying attention to Person of Interest. First, the episode order was cut, then months of radio silence on when the show would fit into CBS’s calendar. Finally, word emerged that the show’s final season would air two episodes per week and disappear from CBS’s lineup as quickly as possible. The behind the scenes network drama should not deter from Person of Interest’s growth from standard case-of-the-week procedural to serialized ASI war drama that, at its core, asks a particularly pertinent question, “How okay are we with being watched?”

Person of Interest premiered pre-Snowden. Why is that important? For those unfamiliar with the show, the opening title sequence begins with, “You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of everyday.” Coming into the show today a new viewer would think, “Uh, duh!” But at the time of Person of Interest’s premiere the idea that the government was making use of the nation’s surveillance systems and listening in on calls to prevent terrorist acts was a cloudy idea. Something that might be happening, but probably would not affect our lives. Enter Person of Interest to unpack the “what if” scenario with the tale of ASI, or artificial super intelligence, and what that technology could be capable of placed in the right hands.

Person of Interest season 5 finch numbers

The ASI, or as its creator Harold Finch (Lost‘s Michael Emerson) prefers to refer to it, The Machine, is a super system that learns patterns in people’s behaviors. Its objective is to seek out potential danger and identify the perpetrators to the authorities. Finch, way back in 2006, sold the machine to the government to do just that. But when he learned that the government would assess and deploy prevention tactics only to stop major crimes and acts of terror, Finch created a back door and took the cases considered “irrelevant” into his own hands. Enter John Reese, a former CIA operative. Finch works with the brains of the operations, Reese provides the muscle.

Say hello to the perfect procedural ingredients. Each week The Machine would provide a new number (the social security number of a person who was either in danger or about to cause harm to someone else), Reese and Finch work to identify the person through surveillance and electronic records, the NYPD contacts provide assistance in acquiring case histories and diverting police vehicles, and bing, bang, boom by episode’s end the photo pinned on the wall would be taken down. That is, however, until season 3. Lurking in the background of seasons 1 and 2 were the big mob bosses of the five boroughs. They provided assistance or disruption time and again with Carl Elias heading up the organized crime unit steering the ship and contributed to the long form stories Person of Interest wove into the mix.

Person of Interest season 5 root finch

But by season 3, when a rival ASI began to take on a life of its own, so did the long form story. Numbers, belonging to victims and perpetrators still trickled out here and there, but a larger war began pushing them out of the limelight. And honestly, the show became better for it. Other procedurals across the networks tend to operate in the same way season 1 and 2 unfolded. Elementary reserves their B storyline for planting seeds across a season in order to open up three episodes at the end to a serialized story. NCIS and all its spinoffs, also tell narratives across episodes, typically focusing on one or two characters. Person of Interest decidedly turned the show on its head, even changing the opening credits to reflect a greater power taking over their world. Another being inside the show was here to shake things up and the only way to tell its story was to let Samaritan win for a while.

Samaritan, the rival AI built from the scraps of work Harold Finch previously discarded, brought with it a new method of storytelling. In season 3 Person of Interest slowly shifted to a more serialized show, ending a season-long battle against an organization known as Vigilance. Fighting for the right to electronic privacy, Vigilance’s visual leader, played brilliantly by pre-Hamilton superstar Leslie Odom Jr., took the show from Number of the Week into uncharted territory, a serialized drama sci-fi that tackles a war between the underdog ASI – The Machine – against the Super Intelligence and big bad – Samaritan. And that is where season 4 subsequently continued. Once Samaritan went live, there was no kill switch.

Person of Interest season 5 gang

So, why should you watch Person of Interest now? Even though CBS sees Person of Interest as an Irrelevant, I see it as being one of the most “Relevant” shows on television. Across the seasons there are episodes that I feel comfortable enough calling some of the best I’ve seen on TV. Not only is the topic eerily relevant to the current technological climate, but the show has some of the strongest actors and performances week in and week out. “The Devil’s Share,” is one of the best explorations of grief and revenge. Watch the cold open to the episode below, but be warned that it does reveal a major character’s death. The slow burn of the more personal stories and skeletons lurking in Reese, Finch, Shaw, and Root’s closet makes for some of the most compelling narratives on TV.

Seeing as the premiere picks up moments after the conclusion of the season 4 finale, I highly recommended that you load up “YHWY” on Netflix before heading into “B.S.O.D.” Person of Interest is certainly worth adding to your TV lexicon, but if you do not have time for every single case, there is an incredible guide that will catch you up without watching all 90 episodes.

The first few episodes of this season (I have seen four) maintain the feel of the previous seasons while also kicking off the final chapter in Person of Interest‘s story.

Watch Person of Interest season 5, episode 1, “B.S.O.D.” tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET on CBS.