Year Released: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 60 minutes
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In digging about the obscurity vault, some unwise person unearthed this 1977 one-shot TV special. Rather than leaving vintage nonsense to rest, it was decided to dust it off and put it into DVD release. That was not a wise move.
This production finds the wacky redhead as an Indiana housewife who manages to get a telephone call into then-President Jimmy Carter. She’s concerned about a proposed housing project on the outskirts of her town. In typical dum-dum sitcom logic, the president decides that he will drop into Lucy’s house for dinner while he is in the Hoosier State. Needless to say, everyone in town suddenly shows up to finagle invitations to the presidential dinner.
“Lucy Calls the President” could have been a genuinely entertaining light comedy about a small town getting flustered by a presidential visit. Ball wisely gathered her favorite sidekicks – Vivian Vance, Gale Gordon, Mary Wickes, Mary Jane Croft – and tapped TV reliables Ed McMahon (in a relatively rare acting role – he’s quite good) and Steve Allen to round out the cast. And the script also brings in some surprisingly pointed political zingers at the expense of Carter’s policies. (Lillian Carter, the president’s famously outspoken mother, makes an unbilled cameo appearance.)
Unfortunately, Ball was either unwilling or unable to let go of her “I Love Lucy” persona. She was 66 years old when this production was made (though she looked at least 10 years older), and she was not up to the demands of physical slapstick. Rather than take the material into a comedy of manners and errors, it unwisely puts Ball into contrived and silly situations – getting drenched in a malfunctioning sprinkler system, stepping into a large vat of potato salad, dueling with Vance with cake frosting tubes, sitting on a cake – that are, quite frankly, embarrassing to witness.
Ball’s most devoted fans may be eager to check out this curio, but anyone who loves Lucy should stick to the classic reruns.
Posted on April 4, 2010 in Reviews by Phil Hall
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