More than 62 years after I Love Lucy debuted, the wacky Ricardos and the whole Lucy gang are getting a fresh look in time for the holidays.
The I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, a one-hour special featuring two newly colorized back-to-back classic episodes of the 1950s series, will be broadcast Friday, Dec. 20 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The two episodes—the seldom-seen “Christmas Episode” and “Lucy’s Italian Movie” (aka “Grape Stomping”)—were colorized with a vintage look, a nod to the 1950s period in which the shows were filmed. The main titles and end credits of the two episodes are seamlessly combined into one set—at the beginning and end of the hour—with no interruption between the episodes.
The programs feature Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as the Ricardos’ friends and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz.
“The Christmas Episode” finds the Ricardos and Mertzes decorating Lucy and Ricky’s Christmas tree and reminiscing about how their lives have changed since the arrival of the Ricardo’s son, Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux). Flashbacks (in black-and-white to emphasize the time lapse) recall the night Lucy tells Ricky she is pregnant, the time Lucy shows up unexpectedly as part of a barbershop quartet, and the day Ricky and the Mertzes rehearse taking Lucy to the maternity ward.
“The Christmas Episode” was first presented as part of the regularly scheduled “I Love Lucy” series on CBS in December 1956. The episode wasn’t included in the series’ long history of rebroadcasts, first on CBS Daytime and later in syndication. Thought to be “lost,” CBS rediscovered the episode in 1989.
“Lucy’s Italian Movie” finds the Ricardos and Mertzes visiting Rome, where Lucy is invited by a famous Italian film director to appear in his next picture, “Bitter Grapes.” Mistakenly thinking the film concerns the wine industry, Lucy sets out to visit a local vineyard where she soaks up more local color than intended.
“Lucy’s Italian Movie” was originally presented on “I Love Lucy” in March 1956 and became an instant classic. It was included in CBS’s 1958 summer series, “The Top 10 Lucy Shows,” as chosen by television critics.
“I Love Lucy” aired on CBS from Oct. 15, 1951 until May 6, 1957. It was voted “the best TV show of all time” in a 2012 viewer poll conducted by People Magazine and ABC News.