The Ten Best HERE’S LUCY Episodes of Season Two

Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Today, we’re continuing our coverage on the best of Lucille Ball’s third half-hour television series (fourth series altogether), Here’s Lucy (1968-1974, CBS), which starred Ball, Gordon, and her two real life kids, and began production following the sale of Desilu and conclusion of The Lucy Show (1962-1968, CBS). I’m thrilled to announce that every single episode of the series has been released on DVD.

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Widowed Lucy Carter works as a secretary at a Los Angeles employment agency for her stern brother-in-law, Harry,  all the while raising her two bemused teenagers — Kim and Craig — who constantly feel the fallout of their mother’s meddlesome ways.

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Here’s Lucy stars LUCILLE BALL as Lucy Carter, GALE GORDON as Harry Carter, LUCIE ARNAZ as Kim Carter, and DESI ARNAZ, JR. as Craig Carter.

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Season Two has really grown on me. When the season first came out on DVD, I found it inferior to the previous year, because Season One, despite some truly awful scripts and annoying performances by the kids, had several uncharacteristically brilliant installments. While Season Two doesn’t have any episodes that reach the heights of “Lucy, The Fixer” or even “Lucy, The Shopping Expert,” the kids are better — and the production as a whole is tighter. Sure, there are some real misfires this season (like “Lucy, The Laundress”), and I’m not a fan of the single-camera on-location episodes that begin the season, but many of the episodes are supremely solid. As I said above, it’s a year that grows on you. So, 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. For seasoned fans, there might be a few surprises.

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Here are my picks for the ten best episodes of Season Two. (They are in AIRING ORDER.)

 

01) Episode 29: “Lucy And Harry’s Tonsils” (Aired: 10/20/69)

Harry spends the night in the hospital after having his tonsils removed.

Written by Milt Josefsberg & Ray Singer | Directed by George Marshall

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The first multi-cam episode of the season, this episode is a marvelous showcase for Gale Gordon, who gives a consistently hysterical performance as the overgrown baby scared for surgery, the voiceless chap plagued by a meddling Lucy (and a no-nonsense nurse played by none other than Mary Wickes), and the randy bachelor who hopes to prolong his recovery at the sight of a sexy blonde nurse. Everything about this episode works — from the physical comedy (save a moderately tired charade sequence) to the excellent guests (which also include Paula Stewart and Jack Collins). Best of the season!

02) Episode 31: “Lucy’s Burglar Alarm” (Aired: 11/03/69)

Lucy and the kids rig up a burglar alarm system after they are robbed.

Written by Milt Josefsberg & Ray Singer | Directed by George Marshall

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This particular installment is often remembered for some physical gags at the end which involve the home burglar system that Kim and Craig rig up after Harry refuses to allocate them the funds to pay for a professional one. And of course there’s a memorable sight gag at the end where Uncle Harry gets his! But what’s most striking about this episode is the smart dialogue in the first act, which includes a memorable scene where Lucy flirts with the burglar alarm salesman (Elliot Reid). Flirty Lucy is always a comic tour de force!

03) Episode 32: “Lucy At The Drive-In Movie” (Aired: 11/10/69)

Lucy and Harry disguise themselves to spy on Kim and her date at the drive-in.

Written by Milt Josefsberg & Ray Singer | Directed by George Marshall

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There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that must go into watching an episode of Here’s Lucy. This one requires a bit more than I would normally like, but there are several rewarding bits that make the whole installment worthwhile. Lucy and Gale dressed as the overaged hippies is a sight gag that you won’t soon forget, and the episode milks it for all it’s worth. Also worth noting about this installment is how much improved the kids are from the first few episodes of Season One. Lucie’s character is a great voice of reason, and when she isn’t pushing too hard, she can really sell a believable comic performance. (Which is always welcomed in an unbelievable episode!)

04) Episode 33: “Lucy And The Used Car Dealer” (Aired: 11/17/69)

Kim and Craig are tricked into buying a lemon by a crooked used car salesman.

Written by David Ketchum & Bruce Shelly | Directed by George Marshall

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This is a fan favorite — no doubt due to the guest appearance by Uncle Miltie himself (that’s Milton Berle, for the youngsters reading), who plays the bald-cap-clad used car salesman. His performance is riotous, and whether or not Berle is your cup of tea, he and Lucy always seem to work well together (even in awful episodes — like a nameless fourth season installment of The Lucy Show). Aside from Berle, the disguises donned by Lucy and Gale (once again) prove to be the most memorable bit from the episode, and Lucy is, as usual, tops.

05) Episode 38: “Lucy Protects Her Job” (Aired: 12/22/69)

Lucy fears that Harry’s insistence that she hire an assistant means she’s on the chopping block.

Written by Sam Perrin & Ralph Goodman | Directed by Danny Dayton

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No doubt about it — this is Lucie Arnaz’s episode. She gets a few throughout the series, and, unless the script is topnotch, I am usually not a fan of episodes that deflect much of the comic burden away from Lucy. Fortunately, there’s a lot to be enjoyed about this script, and Arnaz really flexes her comedic muscles for the first MAJOR time in the series — making the entire installment a uniquely enjoyable experience. Her ‘Shoiley’ is a trip, and there’s one line in this episode that is unforgettable: “Carter’s Eunuch Employment Agency.” Good showcase for Miss Arnaz.

06) Episode 42: “Lucy And Lawrence Welk” (Aired: 01/19/70)

Lucy schemes to keep the visiting Viv from finding out that she’s not close friends with Mr. Welk.

Written  by Martin A. Ragaway | Directed by Herbert Kenwith

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Vivian Vance makes her second of six guest appearances in this episode, and though this one is filled with plot holes and inconsistencies (and also happens to be very similar to an I Love Lucy episode entitled “Harpo Marx”), it’s wonderful to see Viv again. Also, Mary Jane Croft makes one of her rare early season appearances, filling the part that Ethel played in the ILL episode, while Vance takes on the near-sighted Carolyn Appleby role. However, what’s most satisfying about this episode, aside from the many laughs, is the fact that the Lucy character is portrayed as smart; she’s a schemer, not some bumbling incompetent. (This series has her fluctuate between the two.)

07) Episode 43: “Lucy And Vivian Vance” [a.k.a. “Lucy And Viv Visit Tijuana”] (Aired: 01/26/70)

Lucy and Viv persuade Harry to take them to Tijuana for the day.

Written by Milt Josefsberg & Ray Singer | Directed by Herbert Kenwith

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Viv’s back for another, perhaps even sillier, installment which sees Lucy, Viv, and Harry heading down to Tijuana to do some shopping. Long story short, the trio get accused of smuggling after agreeing to deliver a stuffed animal to a shop owner’s niece back in Los Angeles. Problem is, the toy is stuffed with stolen jewels. It’s always a pleasure to see these three interact (particularly Vance and Gordon), and though this episode certainly won’t earn points for cleverness, it is probably one of the most memorable, and on a basic level, quite entertaining.

08) Episode 44: “Lucy And Ann-Margret” (Aired: 02/02/70) 

Ann-Margret decides to duet on a TV show with Craig singing his own original song.

Written by Milt Josefsberg & Ray Singer | Directed by Herbert Kenwith

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Lucie had an episode above to shine; this time, it’s Desi, Jr.’s turn, as he flirts, sings, and dances with the unbelievably alluring Ann-Margret. While Desi certainly has charm, his acting skills lack the polish of Lucie’s (even at her most annoying). However, he gives a very nuanced solo performance as he prepares for a night of perceived passion after Ann-Margret goes to slip into something more comfortable. It’s quite funny, and the cherry on top: the swinging duet that the pair performs to cap off the episode.

09) Episode 45: “Lucy And Wally Cox” (Aired: 02/09/70)

One of Harry’s friends hires Lucy to help his shy son feel more masculine.

Written by Milt Josefsberg & Ray Singer | Directed by Jay Sandrich

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Wally Cox appeared on Here’s Lucy four times — once each in the first four seasons, and while last season’s episode was amusing in an absurdly cartoonish way, this episode is unquestionably the best. Simply, the episode isn’t quite as nonsensical as the other efforts. There’s a wonderful climax in which Wally and Lucy save the warehouse from what she thinks are a pair of phony crooks, but turn out to actually be the real thing. Also, Alan Hale, Jr. (Gilligan’s Island‘s Skipper) plays Cox’s father, and though the casting is sort of unbelievable, he is always a pleasure to see on screen.

10) Episode 48: “Lucy And Carol Burnett” [a.k.a. “Secretary Beautiful”] (Aired: 03/02/70)

Lucy competes with her friend Carol Krausmeyer in a secretary beauty contest.

Written by Lou Derman & Larry Rhine | Directed by Jay Sandrich

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Like Cox, Burnett was a frequent guest on Here’s Lucy (and Lucy returned the favor on Carol’s show) — appearing once in each of the first three seasons. This episode, the only Burnett one that doesn’t evolve into a show-within-a-show, is certainly my favorite — filled with big energy, big performances, and big laughs. In fact, this is probably one of the season’s most overflowing in terms of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. (Always a plus!) Fans of Burnett will get a kick out of seeing Lucy imitate Carol’s notorious scrubwoman bit. “Secretary beautiful, we love you!” Great episode.

 

Other notable episodes that didn’t quite make the list above include: “Lucy Runs The Rapids,” the most physical of the on-location single-cam episodes, “Lucy The Cement Worker,” which gives Lucy some moderately well-executed physical bits, “Lucy And Johnny Carson,” which features several amusing bits, despite the grating way in which the Lucy character is portrayed, “Lucy And Liberace,” a very campy episode that seems more skit-com than sitcom, and “Lucy Takes Over,” which features an illogical plot-hole-filled premise, but some nice laughs.

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*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Two of Here’s Lucy goes to…..

“Lucy And Harry’s Tonsils”

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Come back next Tuesday for the best from Season Three! And tune in tomorrow for another Wildcard Wednesday post!

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4 thoughts on “The Ten Best HERE’S LUCY Episodes of Season Two

  1. I think that this list is pretty spot on. One of the best moments was when Lucy sang Snoops The Lawyer on Carson, lol.

    • Hi, Charlie! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, I’d say that’s a memorable moment from an episode that I find not-so-artfully crafted (particularly as it pertains to the Lucy character’s depiction) — but Season Two … and Three… and Four boast no shortage of such material.

  2. Been doing a lot of research on Johnny Carson and watched a few episodes in this season, including the Carson one. Must agree with you how irritating that episode was. Carson and McMahon were pretty good but what worked for Lucy Ricardo as a “thirty something” certainly did not work for Lucy Carter, now in her upper 50s. The whole thing seemed forced and completely unrealistic. Seemed like they were trying to replicate the famous Derby scene from I Love Lucy but failed miserably in doing so.

    On another note, I must say how wonderful this site is. The writing is smart, well-researched and quite detailed. I’ve spent hours reading many of your articles. Curious though if you’d put any thought into curating a table of contents? So many great articles are seemingly buried under many pages of newer content that it’s a shame. Even going month by month requires a lot of scrolling and clicking.

    • Hi, Justin! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I really appreciate your kind words, and I remember you asking me this a few months ago.

      My feelings about a formal and more easily accessible table of contents have remained unchanged since then – it’s ever in consideration, but not something I actively want to make available right now for reasons of time, creativity, and my own ego. There’ll likely be a more formal organizational structure once this blog ceases to produce original material in several years, but until then, all past posts are forever findable (albeit, with some finger work) in the archives.

      Also, the easiest way to search my history is to google a specific term you’re seeking (like “johnny carson” – in quotes) along with jacksonupperco. If you’re hoping just to browse, I’m afraid that’ll take more effort for the time being.

      Thanks again for your kind words – I’m grateful for your readership and support, and I hope you’ll stay tuned (even through the scrolling and clicking)!

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