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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Marvel revealed today that a new television series, Legion, has been picked up by FX for the 2017 season!

Legion has been picked up by FX for an 8-episode season to air early in 2017. The series is being described as, “The story of a troubled young man who may be more than human.” Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, Aubrey Plaza, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, and Bill Irwin are set to star in the series, which will begin filming this summer in Vancouver.

Legion will follow the story of David Haller, who has struggled with mental illness since he was a teenager. He’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals ever since being diagnosed as schizophrenic. However, a strange encounter with another patient has David wondering if the voices he hears and his visions might be real.

FX President of Original Programming Nick Grad teased the series by saying, “We’ve come to expect excellence from Noah Hawley and with Legion he has delivered another major creative achievement. Just as he did in reimagining Fargo, he is bringing an entirely new aesthetic and sensibility to the enormously popular and richly represented X-Men world.”

Executive Producer and Head of Marvel TV Jeph Loeb added, “Marvel Television is thrilled to not only have our first partnership with FX go to series, but working with the enormously talented Noah Hawley makes it even better. From the first time we heard Noah’s vision to his exceptional script and cast through the extraordinary filming of the pilot, we knew the series would be incredible.”

In the comics David Haller is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. A mutant like his father, David also suffers from several mental illnesses, including dissociative identity disorder. Each of his personalities controls one of his superpowers. David eventually joined his father in the mission to help humans and mutants coexist. I’m intrigued to see how FX might connect Legion to the X-men universe.

Will you tune in to watch ‘Legion’ on FX?

Disney has just announced a few new details about their Mary Poppins sequel starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and directed by Into the Woods helmer Rob Marshall.

The movie is officially titled Mary Poppins Returns and will hit theaters December 25, 2018. The date is the same one Disney used for their 2014 musical adaptation of Into the Woods. Mary Poppins Returns is being billed as a sequel to the 1964 original.

Here’s Disney’s official synopsis for Mary Poppins Returns:

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follows a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Said Rob Marshall in a statement, “I am truly humbled and honored to be asked by Disney to bring P.L. Travers’ further adventures to the screen. The iconic original film means so much to me personally, and I look forward to creating an original movie musical that can bring Mary Poppins, and her message that childlike wonder can be found in even the most challenging of times, to a whole new generation.”

Mary Poppins Returns is the latest in a line of live-action sequels and remakes Disney has put into production. Others include next year’s Beauty and the Beast, which the studio just unveiled a trailer for. Last week we also heard that they’re working on a live-action Little Mermaid movie.

Are you okay with a Mary Poppins sequel?

The Harry Potter play Cursed Child opens in a week, and we’ve just got our first look at Ginny Potter née Weasley. But not everyone is impressed.

Harry Potter fans have long ago resigned themselves to the fact that Ginny Weasley, badass Quidditch superstar and Voldemort possession survivor, is doomed to exist on the fringes of the story.

Despite her undiluted badassery, Ginny floated on the edge of canon throughout the Harry Potter book series, and for this reason, there are unfortunately many fans who simply don’t see Ginny as anything other than Harry’s only heterosexual ticket into the OBHWF.

But while Hermione Granger (rightfully) takes up most of the spotlight as far as female representation is concerned, J.K. Rowling actually created an equally important female character in Ginny Weasley, despite — or maybe because — of her absence from Harry’s part of the story.

Related: 9 reasons why Ginny Weasley’s cooler than the movies give her credit for

Reading the book saga closely will reveal that Ginny Weasley was actually better than everyone (and she knew it). And the fact that she got to be such a quietly confident BAMF, without Harry ever being consciously aware of it (though clearly it made an impression!), definitely meant a lot to me as a young girl growing up Potter.

Ginny may not have been the Chosen One, or the Chosen One’s best friend, but she kicked ass — and continued to kick ass — whether or not anyone gave her credit for it.

Let’s recap the awesomeness of Ginny Weasley:

  • Ron may have been Harry’s best friend, but his little sister was the seventh Weasley child and the first girl in seven generations. Talk about your magic number!
  • By all accounts, she was an immensely powerful witch: Growing up with six brothers made her resilient and hard-working, and she seemed to have the same extraordinary raw talent as Fred and George (but she applied herself more).
  • She was possessed by Voldemort in her first year at Hogwarts, literally making her the only person even remotely qualified to understand what Harry was going through. This came to a head in Order of the Phoenix, when it was Ginny of all people who stood up to Harry and told him that he was being stupid.
  • She overcame her crush on Harry and went on to have a rich and interesting social life which didn’t involve him. When Harry finally noticed and fell in love with her, she didn’t let that slow her down.
  • She stood up for both Neville and Luna, clearly cool and self-confident enough not to care what anyone thought of her companions (unlike Harry, who was far more judgemental towards both Luna and Neville).
  • She was a professional Quidditch player, even taking Harry’s place as Seeker for a while before landing a spot as Chaser while still at Hogwarts.

For all this, Ginny never really amounted to the ‘fourth member of the trio’ fans might have hoped for ahead of Deathly Hallows. She didn’t join Harry, Ron and Hermione on the Horcrux hunt (solely because Harry wanted to ‘protect’ her), and yet her badassery continued to assert itself behind the scenes, as she joined Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts and fought in the ensuing battle.

To me, it always felt like the essence of Ginny, the soul of this character, simply would not be repressed no matter how much J.K. Rowling tried to bench her (and the benching in itself was not an issue; Ginny was never meant to be a main character, and as laid out above, it actually worked to her benefit).

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But unfortunately, the Harry Potter movies have done a lot to undo the subtle ways in which Rowling empowered Ginny between the lines. With Ginny’s value in the story mostly inferred rather than expressly stated, it clearly became as easy of a subplot to trim away as Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party.

Ginny had hardly any presence in the movies at all, peaking in Chamber of Secrets (because they couldn’t completely ignore her in that one) and otherwise having only a few scattered, out-of-context moments of empowerment that still paled in comparison to the material given to characters like Fred and George, Draco, Luna, and Neville. Heck, even made-up character Nigel had more of a presence in the movies than Ginny did.

And of course it didn’t help that Bonnie Wright (who is a talented actress — check out After the Dark and see for yourself) had no chemistry with Dan Radcliffe, and that they gave the best Harry/Ginny moment of the series to Ron/Lavender for some inexplicable reason.

But still she married Harry, and still they had three kids (all of whom were named after people important to Harry, but alright). The One Big Happy Weasley Family prophecy came true, and all was well…

Until now. (Dun dun dunnn.)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens for previews in London next week, and everyone’s excited for the trio and their kids to return. Once again Ginny is getting second billing, not being announced as part of the main cast, but rather revealed a week before the show opens, along with a photograph of Poppy Miller in character:

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There’s also a family portrait of Ginny, Harry and their son Albus, with Ginny holding on to her youngest son protectively (there’s that mother’s love again), kicking us in the feels because it’s pretty much exactly what Harry saw when he looked into the Mirror of Erised:

l-r Harry Potter (Jamie Parker), Albus Potter (Sam Clemmett), Ginny Potter (Poppy Miller)

And I actually love this. I love that Ginny is included (especially since, um, Harry’s other two kids are nowhere to be seen), front and center by Harry’s side.

As far as her clothes go, no, I’m not a fan. They remind me too much of movie-Ginny’s getup in the epilogue, and it’s just not what I’d imagine she’d wear. But it’s just an outfit; it doesn’t actually tell us anything about Ginny’s role in the play, so I’m not too worried about that.

What I am worried about is the fact that she’d be revealed here as part of Harry’s Erised fantasy. It’s doubtless we’ll see more character reveals over the coming days, and Harry will likely factor into more constellations (notably the Ron-Hermione-Harry group photo we’re all waiting for). Ginny probably won’t.

I’m worried that Ginny’s role in this story will amount to being Harry’s wife and Albus’ mom. Not that J.K. Rowling hasn’t full well established that The Power of Motherhood pretty much overrules everything else, but that’s not what Ginny is — or, rather, that’s not all she is. As much as I love Molly Weasley, Ginny represented a different kind of female character. I hope the play stays true to that.

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As a long-time Ginny fan used to everyone overlooking and under-utilizing this fantastic character, I’m just desperately hoping now that the eighth Harry Potter story will give us the Ginny we know from the books, rather than her inferior on-screen counterpart. While Cursed Child isn’t and shouldn’t be about her, I’m hoping this is Ginny’s chance to reclaim some of the agency the movies robbed her of.

And call me an optimist, but I’m hopeful that this is exactly what Cursed Child is gonna give us. I trust that J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany don’t let the movies’ depiction of Ginny influence what is supposed to be the next installment of the book series.

In J.K. Rowling’s own words on Pottermore, Poppy Miller’s Ginny will be, “Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.” It’s not the bat-bogey hexing firecracker we know and love, but hey, everyone grows up, right? So even if we get just a couple of scenes with Ginny, let’s presume she’ll be her badass, Quidditch player self, and that she’ll be given space to exist in her own right, rather than as a prop in Harry’s perfect family.

She may not have been the most important character in Harry Potter, but she was my favorite, and Cursed Child has an opportunity to undo the damage the movies did to this fantastic, empowering heroine. Let’s hope they take it.

Are you looking forward to seeing Ginny Potter in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’?