October 22, 2007 10:39 AM
The most-watched 89 hours and 54 minutes in television history is coming to a retailer near you—the whole thin, as Ricky Ricardo would say. CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment are releasing the entire "I Love Lucy" canon on DVD tomorrow; the series has until now been available in season-by-season sets, but this 34-disc, $199 compendium ties everything up nicely in an elaborate heart-shaped box and as a bonus throws in the unreleased 1953 "I Love Lucy" movie—a compilation of three episodes stitched together with special intro, outro and interstitial footage. The movie was designed to be released in theaters for folks in the flyover states who didn’t have TV sets (or even stations) yet. But because stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz signed with MGM right at that time to do the motion picture "The Long, Long Trailer,"
contractual issues forced plans to release the "Lucy" movie to be scrapped. Of particular historical interest is that the movie shows the then-innovative Desilu Playhouse stage, where three-camera sitcom production in front of a live audience was born. As were, of course, all those timeless episodes.