Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Life with Lucy: Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree



I cannot remember where, but I read or heard somewhere that a Lucy episode be it I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy and/or Life with Lucy started with a simple premise and built from there. Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree, the tenth and second unaired Life with Lucy episode, takes that idea to a whole new level by literally telling you about the entire plot in the title. Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is also bad, just bad, and would have been another reason to dump this misguided debacle.

Margo McGibbon (Ann Dusenberry) is very concerned that her mother Lucy Barker (Lucille Ball) and father-in-law Curtis (Gale Gordon) are spoiling the kids. Margo's husband Ted (Larry Anderson) is more blase about things, and their disagreement turns into a fight. Lucy overhears the fight and is alarmed. 

She goes to Curtis, who is busy building their grandson Kevin (Philip J. Amelio, II) a treehouse. Realizing that they have indeed been spoiling the children, they agree the best solution is to move out. Which one should move out, though, is a source of contention. Kevin overhears their conversation via the walkie-talkie Curtis got him. Managing Herculean strength, Kevin moves the latter away from the treehouse to force them to negotiate. 

Lucy and Curtis agree to cut back on their gifts and that neither will leave, which brightens their day. That is a counter to the rainstorm that traps them there. They are all wet but there's hope. The rest of the family has returned, rescued them, agreed to not seeing them go and everyone starts "singing in the rain".

One might imagine that I would like Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree more because this is the first Life with Lucy episode in which Donovan Scott's Leonard does not appear. Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is also the first Life with Lucy episode which does not have a single scene at the hardware store. To be honest, those are positives: Scott's Leonard is both a bad and unnecessary character. However, Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is bad because it is more than unfunny. It is boring and illogical.

I cannot remember if Margo and Ted ever opted to talk to their parents about how they were spoiling the children. I think there was mention that they had or tried to. By not doing so, Margo and Ted essentially infantilized their parents, refusing to see them as adults. 

That these adults opted to fight with each other rather than approach or be firm with their own parents is probably the most logical thing in the episode. Ball has an irrelevant sequence where she tells Kevin a bedtime story. To be fair, hearing her version of The Frog Prince is a showcase for her still-agile skills. However, it is totally unnecessary to the story and is there as time filler. It shows how thin Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is.

Kevin is about five to seven in the series. How exactly would he be physically capable of moving a large, heavy ladder by himself? I doubt he would be able to even shift it, let alone pull it away. Why did no one notice or care that Lucy and Curtis were missing? From what I remember, Ted and Margo take the kids out to dinner to celebrate making up. I guess they opted not to ask Lucy and Curtis to join them, or even ask, "Has anyone seen Grandma or Groovy Grandpa"(Groovy Grandpa being Curtis' walkie talkie handle)? 

More bizarre is how Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is shot. In the opening scene, the editing made it look like Dusenberry was not in the same room with Ball. It gave the impression that she had to reshoot the scene and was inserted into it later. The editing is so jarring that one got the idea that the original scene was so bad acting-wise they had to hurriedly try for reshoots without Ball's presence. Given how bad Dusenberry was, one can imagine how awful the original scene was. 

Perhaps the saddest part of Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is when Ball breaks out into crying. The audience loved it, probably for the same reason I hated it: it brought back memories of Lucy Ricardo. 

Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree is more Lucy and Curtis Find Their Time is Up.  How bad is the episode? Even the absence of Leonard can't make it good.


Next (Unaired) Episode: Lucy's Green Thumb

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