Welcome to the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse guide at TV.com.
In mid-1958, Desi Arnaz proclaimed this new Desilu show as his "#1 baby", and promised Desilu Playhouse would include great hours of drama, comedy, and variety. His biggest selling point, however, was the creation of new hour long I Love Lucy episodes. Desilu had created 5 of the hour long specials for the 1957-58 season, and all were top rated. Westinghouse just lost their long running anthology show Studio One and was anxious to continue in the prime Monday time slot AND with high ratings promised by previous Lucy-Desi efforts. Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse was the result.
The first show in late September was really just a Desilu special hosted by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, mostly to tout the new Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse series and the upcoming premiere episode, Lucy Goes to Mexico. Westinghouse was undoubtedly pleased when the opening night placed the new show atop the ratings. Subsequent shows were less successful, but early on were a few notable entries. Rod Serling's Time Element was a ratings and critical smash, and was used as the pilot for his long running Twighlight Zone series. In early December, Lucille Ball starred in two segments in a row, K.O. Kitty and Lucy Makes Room for Danny, perhaps the most critically acclaimed of all the Lucy-Desi hours, and again placed Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse at the top. The see-saw ratings were par for the course during the shows first season, but due to Westinghouses substantial increase in appliance sales, the company renewed the show for another full season. In late April, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse had another giant success with The Untouchables a two part episode that had the nation on the edge of its seats. Unfortunately, Arnaz may have sealed the fate of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse when he sold The Untouchables to ABC instead of CBS. An unhappy CBS moved the show to a less desirable Friday night time slot for the upcoming 1959-1960 season, airing only bi-weekly.
The premiere episode for the new season, a Milton Berle outing with Lucy and Desi, came in #7 for the week, but with declining quality of the new Lucy-Desi hours, a reliance on repeat Lucy shows, and the less desirable time slot, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse slipped in the ratings. With the divorce of TV's reigning couple in March of 1960, both CBS & Westinghouse pulled the plug on the show at the end of the season.
The Desilu Playhouse went into syndication that fall, minus the Lucy-Desi hours. In 1962, Desilu sold those 13 shows back to CBS for $750,000, which CBS re-ran as a summer series under the title The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour from 1962-1967.moreless