New Thing #356: Seeing Black and White In Color

ColorizedI grew up watching a lot of I Love Lucy. I feel like it was on Fox 5 on weekday mornings, and of course it was on Nick at Nite.

But I don't know if my brother and sister and I would have watched it if it wasn't my mom's favorite show.

She loved I Love Lucy - she's seen all of the episodes hundreds of times…which means we've seen them tens of times.

But until Friday night, I'd only seen them in black and white.

I'd almost forgotten CBS was airing colorized versions of a couple of episodes. My mom had told me it was going to be on, and I thought I'd check it out.

But I forgot - it was the night that began my winter break, and my wife and I watched an episode of Modern Family (we're about halfway through the first season, and I think it's excellent, in case you were wondering), and then I was flipping through the channels and caught the last half-hour or so.

We missed the Christmas special, but we saw most of 'Lucy's Italian Movie' - which you might know as the "grape-stomping" episode.

I'll say this about the show - it holds up well. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments - both in scripted jokes as well as Lucille Ball's slapstick.

But I don't know if I appreciated seeing it in color. Sure, there was Ball's famed red hair, and it was interesting to see the title screen in pink, which I suppose is how it was meant to be seen, but I have a weird thing about black and white.

It doesn't matter that I knew Lucille Ball had red hair. It doesn't matter that I knew the sets of the shows back then and the people themselves were made up of multiple colors - to me those shows are always in black and white. When I imagine them, I imagine them in my mind's eye in black and white.

It's mostly sporting events from the 1950's or earlier where this happens - I know what Yankee Stadium looks like in living color, but if it's from video before the '60s, I can only see it in black and white. I know what colors the uniforms were and the skin color is, and the bats and the grass and the walls...but I just can't place the proper colors to black and white film.

I wonder if that happens to everyone or if it's just me.

And that's just my generation. I wonder about people who lived through black and white as the only option and how they reconcile their colors.

I don't know if it's a big deal or not…and I don't know if anyone else thinks about this. But that's what I think about when I hear or see something about colorized black and white television shows.

And whenever they're on I'll try to check them out to satisfy my curiosity.

But even after I see them in color, they'll always live on in my mind as black and white images.