CBS Dusts Off And Colorizes ‘I Love Lucy’ Episodes For May Sweep Tryout

CBS, which has aired colorized episodes of I Love Lucy during the Christmas holiday period, is expanding the scheduling strategy to May. That’s when broadcast networks celebrate the end-of-TV-season holes in their schedules because their regular series have completed their runs.

The network said today it will air two newly colorized episodes of its popular 1950s series from 8-9 PM Sunday, May 17. William Holden guest stars in “L.A. At Last!” (1955), and George Reeves — who was starring on TV’s Adventures Of Superman at the time reprises his role as the Man of Steel in “Lucy and Superman” (1957). Superhero tie-in nicely played, CBS.

The I Love Lucy Superstars Special’s half-hour episodes are colorized “with a vintage look,” the network says, explaining it’s a nod to the Lucy and Supermanera in which they were filmed. That’s cute but makes no sense, given that it was the era of black-and-white TV. CBS also promises the episodes will include additional footage not broadcast in 60 years.

Toplined by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, I Love Lucy aired on CBS from 1951-57. William Frawley and Vivian Vance also starred on the landmark series, which was primetime’s No. 1 for four of its six seasons and twice won the Emmy for Best Situation Comedy. Popular in syndication for more than half a century, it was voted “the best TV show of all time” in a 2012 viewer poll conducted by People magazine and ABC News.

Back in 2013, the Internet was abuzz with a report that grinchy old CBS was getting that warm, cuddly holiday feeling and would air back-to-back episodes of I Love Lucy, colorized and without commercial interruption, and call it The I Love Lucy Christmas Special. It featured two nostalgically colorized episodes as well, including he seldom-seen Christmas episode, and “Lucy’s Italian Movie” (aka “The Grape Stomping Episode”). The Christmas episode had not been included in the series’ long history of rebroadcasts, first on CBS Daytime and later in syndication.

Related ‘I Love Lucy Christmas Special’ Tops Night: TV Ratings

Those two episodes made for a cheap holiday special, and CBS aired them on a Friday, when it had nothing to lose. The I Love Lucy Christmas Special (1.4/5) wound up winning the night against reruns and holiday-special competition. That night also included NBC’s annual showing of the even older (1946) Frank Capra movie It’s A Wonderful Life (1.1/4), which rose 38% from its airing the previous year on December 1, a Saturday – proving, Deadline’s Dominic Patten noted at the time, “sometimes there is no school like the old school.”

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