Only about half of the country got to see this episode when it debuted November 1, 1954. CBS affiliates chose to air a filmed political commercial from the Republican Party. The 1954 United States Senate elections was a midterm election in the first term of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency. Non-affiliate stations still showed “I Love Lucy.” CBS affiliates aired the episode five months later on April 11, 1955. Since the characters were already in California, a flashback opening had Lucy mentioning the Mr. and Mrs. TV Show as a way to try and get into Ricky’s next gig. On that date non-affiliate stations saw a rerun of “Ricky Loses His Voice” (S2;E9) with the flashback dialogue changed. Instead of Lucy talking about the Mr. and Mrs. TV Show, she mentioned the Flapper Follies.
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This episode was filmed on June 24, 1954, one of four episodes completed at the end of season three but held over till the start of season four, so with the delay it was actually ten months between filming and broadcast, the longest of any episode.
LUCY: “Empress Josephine, Dolley Madison, Mamie Eisenhower… We’re all behind our husbands, guiding their destinies. We’re puppeteers behind the scenes, pulling the strings.”(Ricky enters)ETHEL: “Well, here’s Howdy Doody now.”Howdy Doody was a cowboy marionette that starred with his creator ‘Buffalo’ Bob Smith on an extremely popular children’s television show on NBC from 1947 until 1960. Next to “I Love Lucy,” “The Howdy Doody Show” best epitomizes 1950s television.
Lee Millar (Mr. Taylor, Mr. Cromwell’s Assistant) was first seen as the announcer in “The Quiz Show” (S1;E5) and then played the photographer in “Changing the Boys’ Wardrobe” (S3;E10). He will go on to play Chip Jackson, host of the MGM executive’s show, introducing “Lucy and the Dummy” (S5;E3) as well as appearing on a 1964 episode of "The Lucy Show.” Millar is the son of actress Verna Felton, who appeared on “I Love Lucy” twice in 1953, most famously as Mrs. Porter, Lucy’s belligerent maid.
Later, Mr. Taylor is also the stage manager for the broadcast! Bennett Green, Desi’s camera and lighting stand-in, plays the camera man.
Although “I Love Lucy” mentioned Macy’s and Gimbels and used Saks Fifth Avenue gift boxes for props,Phipps Department Store was supposed to be a fictional business for reasons that become clear when Lucy’s plan goes into action. Perhaps unbeknownst to CBS or Desilu, there actually was a Phipps Department Store, located in Batavia, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This real-life Phipps was open from 1948 to 1990.
“Breakfast with Ricky and Lucy” was inspired by “Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick.”This daily radio chat show aired from 1945 through 1963, and starred Dorothy Kilgallen, journalist and reporter, and her husband Richard Kollmar, a Broadway actor and producer.
Ricky asks Lucy to sing “Sweet Sue” for him as a way to trick her into doing the Mr. and Mrs. show. This is the first time we’ve heard “Sweet Sue” since “Breaking the Lease” (S1;E18). It will be heard again in “Ragtime Band” (S6;E21). “Sweet Sue, Just You” was written in 1928 by Victor Young and Will J. Harris. The song was written for (or about) silent film star Sue Carol (1906-1982).When she’s done with her off-key rendition, Ricky applauds. Perhaps unsure of how to respond, the “I Love Lucy” studio audience follows suit.
ETHEL: “Is Mr. Taylor gone? I wanted to ask him if this dress would look alright on television. What do you think?”LUCY: “It’s just perfect. You’ll look like a test pattern.”
Used since the early days of television but seldom seen today, a test pattern was typically broadcast at times when the transmitter is active but no program was being broadcast such as at sign-on and sign-off. They were originally physical cards at which a camera was pointed, and used for calibration, alignment, and matching, of cameras.
Lucy looks quite glamorous in her white floor-length nightgown with matching bow. This moment gives Lucy and Desi a chance to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the camera, something they only did once - at the end of the“Christmas Show”.
Oops! While singing the Phipps Department Store jingle, William Frawley messes up the lyrics “first on your list of shopping tips.” He probably blamed Vivian!
Lucy’s sets her breakfast table with a Quaker lace cloth. In the late 19th century, the Quaker Lace Company made it possible for middle class households to afford the opulence of lace by producing beautiful machine-crafted lace. The company continued to offer all manner of lace items throughout the 20th century, and in the process became a household name.
We get a look at an RCA Television camera.
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This was not an “I Love Lucy” camera. The RCA logo (which should be located in a red circle next to the word ‘television’) appears to have been removed. NBC was a subsidiary of RCA and competed with CBS in the race to create color television.
Lucy’s burlap sack is from the Pasco Packing Company of Dade City, Florida. Founded in 1951, they shipped citrus products nationwide. The company is still in business today as Lykes Pasco Inc. The sack has been turned inside out and upside down so that the Pasco name is nearly undetectable to viewers. This is not the last time Lucy Ricardo would wear burlap for a gag. But as fans, you are way ahead of me!