I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
I Love Lucy
Season Three: 1953-54
1953-54: THE THIRD SEASON
Year-End Rating: 58.8 (1st place)
Producer Jess Oppenheimer heads a creative staff that remains largely
unchanged as the series moves into a third season of uninterrupted critical
and popular success.
Life magazine does a big story on Ricky, but leaves Lucy out
of the picture.
Lucy and Ethel figure to make a killing when they buy a dress shop,
but revise their optimistic projections when they sell only five outfits--to
Lucy and Ethel are horrified to discover that they both plan to wear
the same outfit on a TV talent show.
Lucy and Ethel demand equal rights, but their protest backfires when
Fred and Ricky stick them with an equal portion of the dinner check
at a restaurant.
Caroline and Charlie Appleby arouse Lucy's competitive instincts when
they brag endlessly about their son, Stevie, who was born the same day
as Little Ricky.
The Applebys seem well suited to provide the writers with fresh plot
springboards: They have a boy the same age as Little Ricky; Charlie
runs a local TV station; and Caroline is involved with the wives in
the women's club. Oddly, Charlie Appleby rarely figures in future stories,
and the character is soon dropped. But his wife, Caroline, would prove
a frequent and worthy foil for Lucy and Ethel during this and ensuing
Lucy alienates practically everyone she knows when she attempts to
go twenty-four hours without telling a single lie.
Lucy hires a French waiter to teach her the language after Ricky announces
his plans to stage a French revue at the club.
Lucy wreaks her usual quotient of disaster when she organizes a painting
party to redecorate the Mertzes' apartment.
Lucy and Ethel mistake each other for Madame X, the neighborhood cat
No matter how ludicrous the situation, according to head writer Jess
Oppenheimer, logic remained the key to the comedy of I Love Lucy.
"I insisted on starting every show with a very basic, utterly believable
premise," the producer explained to broadcast historian Alex C. MacKenzie.
"If you motivate your audience in a series of small steps, you can go
to absolute heights."
Indignant over their husbands' utter disregard for fashion, Lucy and
Ethel donate the boys' cherished old clothes to a second-hand store.
Lucy valiantly auditions for the part of a jitterbugging coed, even
though eyedrops have left her temporarily blind.
Ricky is more surprised than anyone when the old flame he invented
to make Lucy jealous suddenly arrives in New York.
Lucy and Ethel are convinced that they've finally struck it rich when
they're deluged with orders for homemade salad dressing.
Concerned that Ricky isn't spending enough time with his son, Lucy
leaves the new father to baby-sit Little Ricky.
Lucy and Ethel enroll in charm school after an attractive young bombshell
overwhelms their husbands.
Natalie Schafer later found considerable recognition when she was stranded
with six other castaways on Gilligan's Island in the 1960s.
Lucy and Ricky plan to commemorate their anniversary with a romantic,
candlelight supper, but the Mertzes have other ideas.
The Ricardos and Mertzes put on airs for the benefit of a reporter
who arrives to do a magazine piece on a day in the life of Ricky Ricardo.
The Ricardos and Mertzes buy shares in an oil well but have second
thoughts when they suspect they've been swindled.
To win a $50 bet, Lucy has to force Ricky to blow his top within twenty-four
Lucy and the Mertzes create an unintentional comedy when they splice
scenes from their home movies into the workprint of Ricky's new TV pilot.
Lucy loses a lucky buck that's worth $300 in a newspaper contest and
then sets off on a mad chase as she tracks the bill across the city.
Lucy once again suffers abuse from radio quizmaster Freddie Fillmore
when she attempts to qualify for an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.
Lucy tries to earn $500 to cover an impossibly large charity pledge
by performing a dangerous publicity stunt atop the Empire State Building.
Mary Jane Croft appears as Lucy's society friend, Cynthia Harcourt--a
role she would reprise when she played Lucy's sidekick, under various
names, on later variations of the star's sitcoms over the next two decades.
Ricky, Fred, and Ethel are less than flattered to find themselves depicted
in Lucy's novel--a roman à clef about life around the
Ricky is drafted into service to conduct the would-be musicians in
Lucy's all-girl band.
Ethel and Lucy test their husbands' fidelity by disguising themselves
as a pair of exotic foreigners.
Another sturdy plot line enters the lexicon of situation comedy when
Lucy discovers the invigorating effect a different-colored coiffure
can have on a jaded marriage. The tactic would be used by countless
sitcom wives, from Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show to
Gloria Stivic, who donned a black wig of her own on All in the Family
some twenty years later.
The Mertzes and Ricardos pool their finances to buy a diner, but soon
find themselves competing with each other for a single customer.
The Ricardos play reluctant hosts to Cousin Ernest Ford, a backwoods
rube with a powerful yen for big-city life.
The Ricardos' schemes to rid themselves of their unwanted houseguest
backfire, and they end up performing with Cousin Ernie on a hayseed
This two-parter, featuring the popular hillbilly performer Tennessee
Ernie Ford, scored ratings that were far above average, a fact that
was not lost on the network or the producers. From that moment on, special
guest stars became an integral part of the Lucy formula.
To discourage Lucy and Ethel from tagging along to the golf course,
Fred and Ricky conspire to make their wives' day on the green as difficult
Skinflint Fred foils Ricky's efforts to sublease the Ricardo apartment
for the summer after he discovers that his tenants will make a small