Lucy Does a TV Commercial

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"Lucy Does a TV Commercial"
I Love Lucy episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 30
Original air date May 5, 1952 (US)
Guest actors

Ross Elliott (The Director), Maury Thompson (Script Clerk)

Episode chronology
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"Publicity Agent"

"Lucy Does a TV Commercial" is the thirtieth episode of the 1950s television sitcom I Love Lucy, airing on May 5, 1952. It may be the most famous episode of the show.[1] In 1997, TV Guide ranked it #2 on their list of the "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time".[2] In 2009, they ranked it #4 on their list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".[3][4] The initial episode was watched by 68% of the television viewing audience at the time.[5]

Plot[edit]

Ricky is given the opportunity to host a television show and receives a telephone call saying that he needs to find a girl to do a commercial spot for one of their sponsors. Lucy overhears this and begs that Ricky allow her to do the commercial. Ricky sternly refuses and asks to hear nothing more of it. When Ricky returns home from his band rehearsal Fred stands by the television set and assists Lucy by asking Ricky to watch the upcoming program. Lucy flips up a sheet that was covering the TV screen and does a mock commercial while inside the set as Johnny the bellhop of the Phillip Morris fame. Ricky goes behind the set and plugs the cord back into its outlet. Lucy is startled as the wiring of the television sets off a minor explosion behind her. Ricky becomes angry when he finds out that Lucy took out each part of the television set piece by piece (rather than sliding the whole chassis out) in order to fit in the box.

The following morning Lucy avoids Ricky. Ricky, noticing this behavior, asks Fred if he can wait for a telephone call from the girl who was going to do the commercial and tell her what time and studio she needs to be in. But as Ricky leaves, Lucy goes up to Fred and sneakily says to Fred that she will wait for the telephone call and deliver the message. Instead, once the girl calls, Lucy tells her that she is not needed for the commercial. Later that day Lucy goes to the television studio in the place of the original girl. The director explains their sales pitch regarding the "Vitameatavegamin" health tonic to Lucy. What Lucy and the director are unaware of is that the tonic contains twenty-three percent (23%) alcohol, making it in effect a forty-six-proof (46 proof) spirituous liquor, and that it is not meant to be taken more than once a day. Lucy begins her first take and obviously grimaces as she tastes the tonic. Feeling unsatisfied with the take, the director asks Lucy if she could do a few more.

After a couple more takes, it appears that Lucy has acquired a taste for the tonic--and its alcohol content. She begins to take bigger gulps when it comes to the part to taste the product and her speech becomes comically slurred. After several takes and a sequence of incorrect pronunciations of "Vitameatavegamin," it becomes apparent that Lucy is inebriated and the director asks if they could take her back to her dressing room in order to sober her up. When the television show begins Ricky comes out and starts singing "El Relicario". Lucy comes from back stage before her cue due to still suffering the effects of the alcohol. She staggers toward Ricky, sways, and waves to the camera. She starts to sing along with Ricky and begins her sales pitch in the middle of his singing, despite Ricky's attempts to keep her offscreen. Ricky desperately carries her off the stage after her hilarious actions become very obvious.

Notes[edit]

  • In later reruns, the scene where Lucy is in a broken television set doing "The Lucy Ricardo Show" edited out the sponsor she announced, which was Philip Morris, the then-sponsor of I Love Lucy.
  • The Vitameatavegamin was originally 11% alcohol, but was increased to 23% on the show.[6]
  • Vivian Vance is absent from this episode. Fred says that she was going to see her mother.

Enduring popularity[edit]

  • The word "Vitameatavegamin" has become a kind of shorthand for this episode and for the I Love Lucy show in general.[7][8][9]
  • More than 900 Lucille Ball lookalikes gathered under a "Vitameatavegamin" sign to honor Ball's 100th birthday,[10] setting a world record for the most Lucy lookalikes in one place.[11]
  • A talking Lucy doll was produced which recites lines from this episode.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oppenheimer, Jess (1996). Laughs, luck-- and Lucy. p. 205. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ The 100 Greatest TV Episodes
  3. ^ "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time" TV Guide; June 15, 2009; Pages 34-49
  4. ^ Empire, June 19, 2009
  5. ^ Walker, Rob (2008). Buying In: What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-8129-7409-6. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ http://www.lucylibrary.com/Pages/photo-of-the-week.011899.html
  7. ^ "Juicy Lucy". Detroit Metro Times. August 17, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Who's the new Lucy?". Entertainment Weekly. August 6, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  9. ^ "`Lucy' still has them laughing 60 years later". Daily News. August 3, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  10. ^ "'Lucy' look-alikes honor Lucille Ball's 100th birthday". Today. August 7, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Kingston redhead among the Lucy look-alike Guinness record". Kingston This Week. August 14, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 

See also[edit]