Though hardly a find like the Dead Sea Scrolls (or even Laura Palmer's diaries), it was a modest pleasure last year when CBS unveiled a Christmas episode of "I Love Lucy" never seen in reruns. The show (originally aired Dec. 24, 1956) is on again tonight (at 8:30, Channel 11), this time with color added to some scenes.
In recognition that TV is a museum of memories for many people, here is a brief trivia quiz about Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz and their timeless comedy creation:
1. In real life, how did Lucy and Desi meet?
2. "I Love Lucy" grew from a radio show. What was its title and who was in it?
3. William Frawley and Vivian Vance were Fred and Ethel Mertz when the show premiered in October 1951. But Lucy had wanted two other well-known actors. Can you name them?
4. "I Love Lucy" was the first TV series to do two things. Do you know what they were?
5. For its first four years, the show ranked number one in the national ratings but was finally supplanted in the fifth year. What show bumped Lucy into second place?
(See answers below, culled from Alex McNeil's book, "Total Television.")
A "SIMPSONS" SLIP? -- Did anybody else find last Thursday's edition of "The Simpsons" disturbing? Since its launch last spring, this show has succeeded in making viewers almost believe in these animated characters as real people, with emotions and problems truer to real life than many a live-action sitcom. Yet this one seemed to fall back on animated cliches.
After scaring Bart into giving up an attempt to jump a deep cavern, Homer accidentally launched himself over the chasm on his son's skateboard. The whole point heretofore had been that Bart was risking his life, that horrible death in a fall was likely. Yet just like Wile E. Coyote in "The Road Runner" cartoons, Homer survived, although with more graphic violence and even some blood.
It seemed a cheap trick which undermined the show's deeper messages.
THE LUCY LOWDOWN -- Lucy and Desi met in 1940 on the set of the film "Too Many Girls," in which both performed. Lucy was in the radio show "My Favorite Husband," with Richard Denning as her spouse. Bea Benadaret (of "Burns and Allen" and much later "Petticoat Junction") and Gale Gordon (a frequent foil for Lucy on her later series) were her picks for Fred and Ethel, for both had been in the radio show. "I Love Lucy" was the first series filmed before a studio audience, and the first to attract 10 million home viewers (in April 1952). And "The $64,000 Question" bumped Lucy from number one.