I Love Lucy: "The Adagio"

When you're an I Love Lucy nut like me, you have a lot of favorite episodes. I honestly kept putting off writing this post because I couldn't decide which delectable episode to pick. Do I go with something irresistibly sweet like "Lucy is Enceinte," or something wacky like "Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her"? I adore the Hollywood episodes, and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour is more than deserving of some love. In the end, though, I had to go with the episode that kept popping into my head: season one's "The Adagio."

We open on the aftermath of one of Lucy's delicious dinners. For Ethel, however, the meal isn't over as she obnoxiously finishes her third piece of cake. (Can we all just agree we're secretly Ethel?) Once she is done, she and Lucy leave the room to go "put on a new face," i.e. fix their make-up. When Fred crosses his fingers, we get this hilarious exchange:
Ricky: "What's that for?"
Fred: "Well, I'm always hoping that this time will be the charm."
Ricky: "What do you mean?"
Fred: "Ethel keeps going out to put on a new face but she always comes back with the old one."

When the ladies return, the gang tries to figure out what to do that night. While they brainstorm, Ricky remembers that he needs to call his manager Jerry to see if he was able to find any apache dancers for the Tropicana. Lucy's ears immediately perk up and she begins to skip around the room, pretending to be a (stereotypical) Native American. After Ethel points out that Ricky means the dramatic Parisian dance -- which is pronounced "ah-pash," not "uh-patch-ee" -- Lucy instantly begins flinging herself on the furniture, her invisible partner violently throwing her around. Unfortunately, Ricky refuses to take her seriously and
takes his call into the kitchen. "There are just two things keeping me from dancing in that show," Lucy complains to the Mertzes. "Your feet?" Fred intones. "No! A partner and some rehearsal. ... Gee, I wonder what Fred Astaire is doing these days?"

The next day, Ethel comes over and hesitantly tells Lucy she has found her a partner. I always giggle when Ethel replies "Fred" and Lucy says with a gasp "Fred? Astaire!" While that would certainly have been a coup for the show, what we actually get is pretty priceless: Fred Mertz, wearing a striped sweater, a beret, and a drawn-on mustache with a cigarette dangling from his
mouth. Ethel praises her husband's apache skills, only to undercut it with "There. Do I get my new hat?"

Lucy isn't convinced, but she decides to give the old goat a try anyway. It doesn't take long for Fred to regret putting on his beret, though. Not only does Lucy stomp on both of his feet, she also winds up hurling him to the floor when he was supposed to do it to her. Luckily for both of them, Ethel rushes in with great news: the owner of the French laundry has a nephew visiting and he's an apache dancer!

Later that day, Monsieur Jean-Valjean Raymond arrives... and he immediately becomes amorous with Lucy. Her annoyance soon turns to terror when Ethel warns her that Ricky is coming up the stairs to retrieve some sheet music he needs. With Raymond hiding in the closet, Lucy nervously ushers her husband out the door. It's so funny to watch her squirm as Ricky tries to decide if he should take his hat and umbrella with him in case of rain, unaware that Raymond's arm is sticking out of the closet as he hands Lucy the items. Once Ricky leaves, the Frenchman takes Lucy's desire to hide him from Ricky as proof that she loves him: "Oh, ma chérie, now I know how you really feel about me! Kiss me!" Lucy kicks him out, but he promises to remain undeterred, earning him one of Lucy's prized "spider faces."

That evening, the Ricardos prepare to go to the movies with the Mertzes. While Ricky is shaving in the bathroom, Raymond appears at the bedroom window, frightening Lucy. To make matters worse, his ladder falls, causing him to hold on to the window ledge for dear life. Forced to think fast when Ricky comes back into the room, Lucy sits on the ledge and pretends that Raymond's hands are her own. When Ricky offers her a cigarette, she foolishly accepts, forgetting that she has to go hands-free since Raymond can't let go. She asks Ricky to light the cigarette for her, causing him to make a perfect joke alluding to Now, Voyager: "Hey, look at me! I'm making like Paul Henreid!"

He then chatters on about someday moving to the country (which they do five seasons later), oblivious to the fact that Lucy is struggling with her cigarette and choking on the copious amounts of smoke coming out of it. The jig is up, though, when Raymond begins to yell as he loses his grip.

Stunned, Ricky pulls him in and demands to know what's going on. Raymond explains that he came to elope with Lucy, but they must act fast: "If we stay here much longer, her stupid husband will return and find us here." "Watch what you're saying!" Lucy yells.
"He's my stupid hus--he's my husband!" Infuriated, Ricky calls Raymond a gigolo, leading Raymond to challenge him to a duel with pistols. A worried Lucy insists she isn't worth dying for as Ricky pushes her out of the bedroom. When he turns around to face Raymond, though, he finds the Frenchman hiding by the bed. And then the truth comes out.

Raymond confesses that he doesn't want to have a gunfight. "I was told that it was safe to challenge people over here because American men would be afraid to duel," he says. "American men, eh? I guess I fooled you with my Brooklyn accent, eh?" Ricky adorably
replies with pride. Raymond then admits that he was told that American women expected Frenchmen to be wildly romantic. He doesn't want to sweep American women off their feet, though. After all, he has a wife and five kids of his own! When Ricky asks why he was hanging around Lucy in the first place, Raymond explains that he was supposed to help her with an apache dance. With a gleam in his eye, Ricky decides to teach a certain redhead a lesson...

In the living room, Lucy is bracing herself for the sounds of the duel when Fred and Ethel come in. As Lucy fills them in on what's happened, multiple
gunshots ring out from the bedroom as Ricky and Raymond fire into the air. Lucy and the Mertzes hold their breath until they see Raymond coolly walk out of the bedroom, his gun still smoking. When he nonchalantly announces Ricky's death ("Sorry, madame, c'est la vie"), Lucy breaks down sobbing. "Oh, if I had to do it over again, I'd be happy being just Mrs. Ricky Ricardo!" she cries. "Oh, Ethel, if I only had another chance!" Taking that as his cue, Ricky dramatically walks out and the lovebirds happily reunite.

In bed that night, the Ricardos are still laughing about what a great prank Ricky pulled. They then kiss each other goodnight and turn the lights out. Before she can fall asleep, though, it finally hits Lucy what a mean trick her husband played on her. She pours ice water on him and rightfully chides him. "That wasn't funny at all! That was a terrible thing to do to me!" However, as she talks, Ricky slowly moves in until Lucy finally gives in to his embrace.

It's quite a risque way to end a 1950s TV show, especially one where twin beds were required so as not to suggest that Lucy and Ricky were having s-e-x. The chemistry between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz was so strong, though, it'd be impossible to convince audiences that the Ricardos were chaste. You can tell how crazy Lucy and Desi were for each other because it shows so much in their characters. Their love story can't help but be reflected in the Ricardos, and it makes us root for them all the more.

One of the things I like about this episode, and about many of the show's episodes, is that no matter how much Ricky tries to stifle Lucy's ambitions, she always comes back swinging. She believes in herself 110% and more often than not, she proves to be just as talented as her husband. (Except maybe in the singing department. And please don't ask her to play the saxophone.) I don't think it's said often enough how inspiring it is to watch Lucy pursue her dreams. She doesn't always succeed, but she never really gives up. Even though the end of "The Adagio" has her say she'd be content with only being Ricky's wife, we all know that by the next episode, she'll be sneaking into Ricky's show somehow, some way.

There's just something so magical about ILL. It is one of the few shows I can watch that makes me laugh out loud, even though I've been watching it for almost two decades and I've seen every episode countless times. The Ricardos and the Mertzes are like family to me. I visit them every time I feel blue or stressed. I can't tell you how many times their shenanigans helped lull me to sleep whenever I had a headache or felt particularly homesick during college. Episodes like "The Adagio" have been my constant companions, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


This is my second post for the Lucy & Desi Blogathon, hosted by yours truly. Check out the other entries here!


  1. Lovely blog about a very funny episode. My only (minor) quibble: I was surprised that, at the end of the blog, you referred to the TV show by its acronym. According to one "I Love Lucy" biographer, at the start of the series, each page of every episode's script had that acronym in the corner. That finally ended when Lucy complained to Desi, "I don't want a show that's 'ill'," and the imprint was changed to "Lucy."

    1. I usually say just Lucy since ILL does look kind of odd, but it still pops up occasionally, especially if I'm talking about two or more of Lucille Ball's TV shows, which all have Lucy in the title.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Excellent post, Michaela! Such a good episode, and one that I had forgotten about until I started reading your post. I can honestly say that I smiled and chuckled all the way through it. And if that isn't the hallmark of a GOOD television program, I don't know what is!

    1. Thanks! That often happens to me. I've discovered that I don't pay a lot of attention to the episode titles so I'll read the DVD's description and it still won't dawn on me which episode it is until I actually see it.


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