The Ten Best THE LUCY SHOW Episodes of Season Six

Welcome to another Sitcom Tuesday! Today we’re finishing our series on the best episodes of The Lucy Show. This was Lucille Ball’s third situation comedy. (I’m counting The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour as a separate series, even though it was essentially a reformatted continuation of I Love Lucy.) Every single episode is available on DVD.

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When not working at a Los Angeles bank for the cantankerous Mr. Mooney, widowed Lucy Carmichael pals around with her daffy neighbor, Mary Jane. Lucy’s schemes, often involving local celebrities, usually place herself and Mr. Mooney in all sorts of strange predicaments.

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The Lucy Show stars LUCILLE BALL as Lucy Carmichael, GALE GORDON as Theodore J. Mooney, MARY JANE CROFT as Mary Jane Lewis, and ROY ROBERTS as Mr. Cheever.

lucy viv reminisce

After two weeks of picking apart two Lucy seasons that I found lacking in quality, I’m pleased to present Season Six, which is, in my humble opinion, not only the best of the Hollywood seasons, but also lightyears better than Season Four — and in particular — Season Five. With both Mary Jane and Roy Roberts (as the menacing Mr. Cheever) around for 12 episodes each, The Lucy Show develops more strength in its premise, even producing several successful guest-star-less episodes. Meanwhile, though the majority of episodes do feature guest stars, the celebrities are better than ever. (Even Vivian Vance returns for two installments.) And though the series is still a template for what NOT to do regarding sitcom continuity, there hasn’t been this much honest laughter since Vance’s departure at the end Season Three. Ball won her second consecutive Emmy for this season of work. Following this season, Ball sold Desilu and jumped into a new series — Here’s Lucy (1968-1974) — produced by her own new company. (We’ll be covering that one in a few months.) So, today I have picked ten episodes that I think exemplify the season’s strongest installments. For new fans, this list will give you a place to start (especially if you’re only interested in the Hollywood years — begin here). For seasoned fans, there might be a few surprises.

Lucille Ball with Emmy Award

Here are my picks for the ten best episodes of Season Six. (They are in AIRING ORDER.) Note that each episode this year was directed by Jack Donohue.

 

01) Episode 133: “Lucy Meets The Berles” (Aired: 09/11/67 | Filmed: 06/08/67)

While moonlighting as Milton Berle’s secretary, Lucy mistakingly concludes that Uncle Miltie is having an affair with Ruta Lee.

Written by Bob O’Brien

lucy berle

I’ve always been moderately fond of Berle, but have never cared for his appearance in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour or his Season Four appearance in The Lucy Show. (Continuity is very screwy this season — accept it. It’s more “skitcom” than sitcom.) But this might be Ball and Berle’s best teaming; in fact, this is one of the best from the entire series. Lucy jumps to conclusions in an episode that — ordinary premise aside — is just screamingly funny. Ruta Lee is on hand to fill a function, but the real meat goes to, as it should, Ball and Berle. The final scene is devastatingly great.

02) Episode 134: “Lucy Gets Trapped” (Aired: 09/18/67 | Filmed: 05/04/67)

Lucy fakes illness so she can skip work and go to a department store sale with Mary Jane, but when she ends up winning prizes, Lucy tries to keep Mooney from finding out her deception.

Written by Milt Josefsberg and Ray Singer

lucy trapped

This episode features no special guest stars, and what do you know? It’s VERY funny. Mary Jane is given a trifle bit more to do this season and she handles it very well. The bit about hiding the paper before someone else sees it is old hat, but it works here. The best moments occur when accident prone Lucy tries to see if the breakable dishes really are breakable. Great bit!

03) Episode 135: “Lucy And The French Movie Star” (Aired: 09/25/67 | Filmed: 05/11/67)

While trying to snare his account, Mooney sends Lucy to a French movie star’s yacht for dictation. There she gets plastered on champagne.

Written by Bob O’Brien

lucy french movie star

Yes, Lucy gets drunk again — for at least the third time in this series. (She gets tippy in several others.) But here, she’s completely blotto. Unlike her bouts with Viv and the Countess, Lucy gets to the do the bit by herself, and she is, not surprisingly, brilliant. Furthermore, she gets to do her “man-hungry” shtick, which though used seldom in the series, always strikes me as funny.

04) Episode 137: “Lucy Gets Her Diploma” (Aired: 10/09/67 | Filmed: 06/29/67)

Following a new rule at the bank, Lucy returns to high school to finally receive a diploma.

Written by Milt Josefsberg and Ray Singer

lucy diploma

Okay. This episode is, truthfully, indicative of both the good and bad in this series. The good? Well, there are no special guest stars. (Although Lucie Arnaz gets a successful and moderately sized role.) Plus there are several top-notch one-liners, AND a great bit in the middle of the episode where Lucy leads the class in a rousing rendition of “‘Dem Bones.” The bad? Well, this is the WORST continuity of the entire series, as Season Two saw Lucy Carmichael attending her college reunion. Now, in Season Six, she’s a high school dropout? That’s bad. But, once you move past that, the episode is very funny.

05) Episode 138: “Lucy Gets Jack Benny’s Account” (Aired: 10/16/67 | Filmed: 09/15/67)

To convince Jack Benny to put his money in their bank, Lucy must create a vault that’s safer than Benny’s own personal one.

Written by Milt Josefsberg and Ray Singer

lucy jack benny

This episode has always been a fan favorite, and in fact, was the only episode of the series to earn its writers an Emmy nomination. Truthfully, it’s a very good episode — Lucy and Jack are always a dynamite pair — but most of the comedy comes from our established expectations about the Benny persona. Most of the laughs comes from Jack, rather than Lucy. So if you’re a fan of Benny and his series, you’ll love this episode. They work well together, and the writers do him justice.

06) Episode 141: “Lucy Gets Mooney Fired” (Aired: 11/06/67 | Filmed: 09/21/67)

Lucy inadvertently gets Mooney fired after she covers up a bank shortage. To convince Cheever to give Mooney his job back, Lucy gives him the Gaslight treatment.

Written by Fred S. Fox and Seaman Jacobs

lucy mooney fired

I love how kooky this episode is WITHOUT managing to insult its audience’s intelligence. Taking a cue from Gaslight (1944), Lucy decides to make Cheever think he has gone crazy, so that he’ll agree to rehire Mr. Mooney. The script itself isn’t that funny, but the bits Lucy does to make Cheever flip are great. This is, deservedly, a fan favorite.

07) Episode 142: “Lucy’s Mystery Guest” (Aired: 11/13/67 | Filmed: 09/28/67)

Lucy gets a surprise visitor — her rich health-nut Aunt Agatha. How will Lucy get her out of the house?

Written by Milt Josefsberg and Ray Singer

lucy mystery guest

Here we have another episode that — although its plot is hinged around a guest star — is not a LUCY MEETS X CELEBRITY episode, because it features character actress and Lucy regular, Mary Wickes. Wickes is always a riot, even when she’s saddled with awful scripts. Fortunately, she’s blessed here with a solid and entertaining show. In fact, there’s a quite dramatic moment near the end of the episode — but it’s honestly rendered and not too schmaltzy — so it works well. In addition to Wickes, Lucy shines in this episode. There’s an ease about her that the series hasn’t seen in a while. Simple, sweet, and funny.

08) Episode 145: “Lucy And Carol Burnett (I)” (Aired: 12/04/67 | Filmed: 10/26/67)

Lucy befriends Carol Tilford in flight attendant training. But their first flight proves to be a disaster, especially since Carol is afraid of heights.

Written by Bob O’Brien

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Burnett is back, but as a different character than the one we met in Season Five. Is it glaring? Well, yes. But it’s of little concern. The bigger continuity issue is simply the fact the Lucy just ups and decides to become a flight attendant. This is a completely illogical episode, but heck if it isn’t absolutely hilarious. Burnett and Ball are ALWAYS great together, and the latter is incredibly generous about giving the former moments to shine. The musical bit is fun but silly. My favorite bit, however, is Lucy battling the shooting spools of film.

09) Episode 151: “Lucy And The Stolen Stole” (Aired: 01/29/68 | Filmed: 12/07/67)

While shopping for the latter’s wife, Lucy and Mr. Mooney are arrested for buying a “hot” fur, sparking a series of arrests as they try to get a refund from the crook who sold them the piece in the first place.

Written by Bob O’Brien

lucy stolen stole

Buddy Hackett does an admirable job as the guest in this episode, but the real comedy comes from the interplay between Lucy and Gale, who shine together in this episode that sees them arrested several times. (The bit where they throw the hot fur back and forth is a scream.) Furthermore, semi-regulars Roberts and Croft are well included into the action. The latter gets a nice moment with Lucy as they discuss Mary Jane’s new hairdo.

10) Episode 156: “Lucy And ‘The Boss Of The Year’ Award” (Aired: 03/11/68 | Filmed: 02/01/68)

Hoping for a promotion, Mooney nominates Cheever for a “Boss of the Year” award, while Lucy, hoping to get Mooney transferred, decides to nominate HIM for the award.

Written by Milt Josefsberg and Ray Singer

lucy boss year

The final episode of the series actually features several Lucy-less scenes. Gale gets a lot to do in this installment, but rest assured that Lucy takes back center stage with a song near the end. Mary Jane is VERY good in the scene in which she attempts to sing, and there are several laugh-out-loud lines. Ultimately, this episode comes down to the relationship between Lucy and Mooney. And while it’s nothing compared to Lucy and Viv, it’s satisfying to see it treated reverently as the series’ most important factor.

 

Other notable episodes that didn’t quite make the above list include: “Little Old Lucy,” which despite an obnoxious premise, has several riotous moments, “Lucy And Viv Reminisce,” which is a clip show, but features one of the most truly breathtaking moments between Lucy and Viv, “Lucy And The Pool Hustler,” a funny episode that’s humor comes mostly from guest Dick Shawn, “Lucy Gets Involved,” which gives Lucy some adequate physical comedy moments, “Lucy And Phil Harris,” which, despite a hilarious opening scene, is more heart-warming than funny, “Lucy And The Lost Star,” which sees Lucy and Viv teaming up with Joan Crawford for an episode that should work better than it does, and “Lucy and Sid Caesar,” which is mildly funny in a predictable way.

lucy lost star

 

*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Six of The Lucy Show goes to…..

“Lucy Meets The Berles”

berle lucy special

 

 

Come back next Tuesday as we begin our eight week series on the best from Bewitched! And tune in tomorrow for an all new Wildcard Wednesday post!

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3 thoughts on “The Ten Best THE LUCY SHOW Episodes of Season Six

  1. Pingback: BIRTHDAY BASH: The Redhead’s 103rd | THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!

  2. I grew up watching reruns of THE LUCY SHOW on a local station in the 1970s and ’80s. Back then, my all-time favorite episode from season six was “Lucy and Viv Reminisce.” Why? The same station ran the series for years, but never aired the black-and-white episodes. I was told more than once by the station’s program director that they had a policy against running black-and-white TV series. So for a long time, “Lucy and Viv Reminisce” was the only opportunity I had to get a glimpse of any of those classic black-and-white first season episodes.

    While the episode is obviously less of a favorite now that it was then, I still like it. The clips are well-chosen, and the scene at the end of the show with Lucy and Viv expressing their friendship and affection for each other is a nice moment. Mr. Mooney is even pleasantly subdued. Given their antagonistic relationship and the show’s tendency to have Gale Gordon going at full throttle too much of the time, the concern he shows for Lucy is refreshing.

    However, I do remember a friend of mine noting that he thought the one real problem with “Lucy and Viv Reminisce” is that all those classic early scenes kind of highlight how much better the show was then.

    • Hi, Randy! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, “Lucy And Viv Reminisce” is another illustration of what a dynamic pair those two were, along with, as you said, the superiority of the early seasons in comparison to the ones that followed.

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