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Friday, June 2, 2017

I Love Lucy & Japan

The television show I Love Lucy has long been one of my most favorite shows. Ever.

Comedian Lucille Ball, along with Carol Burnett, are two of the funniest people on the planet…

It may be why I have this thing for redheads. Hunh... Then again, I also have a thing for Julie Newmar and Raquel Welch...

I own all the DVDs for series, and before I did I had recorded from the television onto ever single episode on VCR tapes.

Each episode was 30 minutes long, except for a season when they went to one-hour in length... and actually changed the name of the show to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour... but it was still I Love Lucy

In one such 60-minute affair, The Ricardos Go To Japan.

I admit that I had forgotten all about that one.

From November 27, 1959 - long before I was born - the episode has Ricky Ricardo (Lucy’s husband) and his band playing a few shows in Japan, including Tokyo.

The whole show is basically spent poking fun at how strange Japan is from the United States (even by the Cuban-born Ricky)… from no tipping, shoes off in tatami mat rooms, kimonos, Japanese pearls, ofuro (Japanese baths), thin paper walls, and even mentions Japanese silent movie star Hayakawa Sesshū, who was one of the biggest stars in the early days of Hollywood.

I’ll do a blog on him later.

Anyhow… it’s an amusing episode with typical Lucy and Ethel Mertz (Lucy’s friend and neighbor back in New York) mayhem.

Have a watch:



Luckily the show was shot in black and white film... Lucy's eyes were reportedly always red owing to the fact that Lucille Ball was always arguing with husband Desi Arnaz... and then crying.

I think you really had to be a fan to watch the hour-long episodes... I'm not saying they were mailing in their performances, but if you look closely you can see a postage mark on Lucy's face in one the "geisha" scene.

To me... the show jumped the shark after the introduction of Little Ricky... though the kid did a passable job as an actor.

The Chocolate Factory... Vitametavegamin ... the Wine making... classic Lucy... Harpo... Superman... how she tells Ricky she's pregnant... the birth... oooh, the dance challenge... so many to choose from.... stuff that is still funny today because it's sheer comedic genius at work.

After watching the way crass Americans (and Cuban) make fun of Japan and its customs (which is only "okay" because of the era in which it was shot) you might wonder if the show was ever show in Japan.

I don't know if THIS episode was, but I do know that starting in 1957, NHK began broadcasting I Love Lucy to the Japanese audiences.

It is said that shows like I Love Lucy shown in Japan helped entice Japan to develop a similar middle-class... seeing what America had to offer, and wanting it too.

I Love Lucy in Japan...

With the average Japanese penchant for being unable to pronounce the letter "L" (per the title of my misspelled blog), we have Rushieru Baru (actor: Lucille Ball - role: Lucy Arnaz) and Bibian Bansu (actor: Vivian Vance - role: Ethel Mertz) and Wiwirun Furari (actor: William Frawley - role: Fred: Ed Mertz). Only Riki Rikardo (role Ricky Rcardo played by Desi Arnaz) escapes the bastardization of Japan's katakana English.

Oh well... I ruvu Rushi.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

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