America apparently loves Lucy more than Don Draper.
Two originally black-and-white episodes of the I Love Lucy sitcom on CBS outdrew the much-hyped Mad Men finale on Sunday night that aired on AMC with almost double the amount of viewers.
The back-to-back Lucy reruns from 60 years ago were colorized and packaged as the “I Love Lucy Superstar Special” for the contemporary audience, the first episode depicting her chance meeting with then A-list actor William Holden, and the second where she dresses up like Superman.
I Love Lucy was the most popular TV show in America during most of its run from 1951 to 1957, winning five Emmys in the process. It returned to TV with 13 one-hour specials from 1957 to 1960.
I Love Lucy starred comedienne Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo, opposite her real-life husband, bandleader Desi Arnaz, as Ricky Ricardo. Their best friends on the show, with whom they got mixed up in numerous awkward and hilarious predicaments, were Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance).
Based on the ratings reported by Showbiz411, perhaps nostalgia-minded TV watchers on Sunday evening preferred the 1950s to the 1970s.
“Sunday night: Two reruns of I Love Lucy from the 1950s… scored the highest total viewers of all scripted shows that night. Lucy had 6.4 million total viewers. That’s almost twice the very high Mad Men score of 3.3 million viewers on Sunday. That’s shows with scripts. The Billboard Music Awards had 11 million, and 60 Minutes had 9 million. But of all the other shows on TV Sunday night – Dateline, The Simpsons, Battle Creek– Lucy prevailed.
Lucy scored twice as many total viewers as Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine Nine.”
In a 2012 survey by ABC News and People magazine, I Love Lucy was voted the Best TV Show of All Time.
Separately, the Mad Men finale was notable for its much-discussed final scene [spoiler], in which advertising exec Don Draper’s meditations in a hippie commune may have created the inspiration for the iconic hilltop 1971 Coca Cola “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” TV commercial.
According to Moviefone, I Love Lucy, which lives on to this day in syndication, was the first sitcom to use a live studio audience and a three-camera format. Lucille Ball was also a savvy businesswoman. “In real life, of course, Ball was not only in show business as a performer, she was also a trailblazing TV producer. She was one of the first women to own her own TV production company. Even after I Love Lucy ended its run, her Desilu firm (she bought out Desi’s share in 1962, after their divorce) continued to produce such classic TV shows as Star Trek, The Untouchables, and Mission: Impossible.”
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]