Lucy Ricardo on the streets of Paris? What could go wrong? Thankfully, a lot… and just in case you’ve had your fill of the pre-holiday rat race, you’ll have ample opportunity to trade your seasonal belly aches for belly laughs when you join the Ricardos and the Mertzes in Paris at Last!
Originally broadcast on CBS in black and white on February 27, 1956, Paris at Last! is the latest classic I Love Lucy episode to be colorized and piggybacked with the rediscovered Christmas Episode, as part of CBS-TV’s annual I Love Lucy Christmas Special. This year’s hour-long Lucy Special will be broadcast on CBS tonight, Friday, December 20, 2019, from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. Don’t miss it!
Surprisingly, Lucy Ricardo’s passion for Paris comes close to matching her zeal for Los Angeles… only this time, she’s not stalking her favorite Hollywood stars or conniving her way into the limelight as a singer, dancer or film actress. She’s enraptured by the City of Light and is itching to hit the streets, soak up local culture and sample its culinary delights. Escargot to go? Lucy has a steep learning curve.
Laugh out loud lately? I’m guessing not so much. But I promise you will laugh… and laugh hard as you catch Lucy’s riotous contretemps over a plate of Parisian snails–“Maybe if I had some ketchup?”–and their prickly chef, as well as her gullible missteps with a con man who offers a better exchange rate for her cash and the shifty street artist who sells her faux instead of fine art. Every parlez-vous points Lucy and, by association, her husband Ricky and their pals, the Mertzes, in the same direction… to jail.
Will Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel dodge the Bastille? Only if they can plead their case to the French-speaking gendarmes. Hilarity ensues as Lucy’s innocent tourist faux pas are translated from English into Spanish, French, German and back again by a zany crew of recruits. This vaudevillian roundelay never gets old. I still laugh when I see its hysterical reincarnation in a much repeated episode of Frasier. However, nothing beats the original I Love Lucy version choreographed to perfection in Paris at Last!
Originally thought to be “lost,” the December 1956 Christmas Episode is a nostalgic Christmas eve visit to the Ricardos’ Manhattan apartment where Lucy and Ricky trim their tree and set out gifts to surprise Little Ricky, their Santa-obsessed five-year-old. Without missing a beat, Ricky and Lucy concoct a whimsical timeline for Santa to deflect their son’s questions and insistence on remaining awake to greet him fireside.
Fred and Ethel Mertz join the fun as Lucy and Ricky wistfully recall Lucy’s unexpected pregnancy announcement at Ricky’s nightclub, and Ricky, Fred and Ethel’s subsequent clumsy effort, months later, to get Lucy to the delivery room on time. Welcome colorized flashbacks are intercut from these classic episodes. The latter, still hilarious after all these years, continues to serve as the classic benchmark for all TV sit-com “birthing” episodes that followed.
Finally, in a musical interlude, Lucy’s attempt to sing “Jingle Bells” reminds Ricky and the Mertzes of the time tone-deaf Lucy crashed their barbershop quartet with disastrous results. A flashback of their sabotaged performance is included.
You can read my original thoughts about colorization in a previous I Love Lucy Christmas Special post, but I’m happy to report that the colorization team continues to work their magic on the I Love Lucy episodes broadcast annually on CBS during the holidays without compromising the show visually or sacrificing its period charm. You can read my reviews of past I Love Lucy Christmas Specials at http://www.judithtrojan.com/2018/12/14 and http://www.judithtrojan.com/2016/12/02 and http://www.judithtrojan.com/2015/12/23 and http://www.judithtrojan.com/2014/12/07
This year’s annual I Love Lucy Christmas Special will be broadcast on CBS tonight, Friday, December 20, 2019, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. (Also check OnDemand, Netflix, and DVD for availability of vintage I Love Lucy episodes.) Happy Holidays! –Judith Trojan