When settling down to watch “Stu’s Show,” a documentary about TV historian Stu Shostak, a collector of everything old television, you might be preparing to watch a documentary about him and his relationship with his idol Lucille Ball. That’s how it’s presented anyway.
However, set that thought aside and prepare for much more than a movie about Stu and his friend Lucy. Their knowing one another comes up, of course, but this movie is much more than super-fan Stu getting a chance to be on the show of the legendary comedians. It’s also about how he meets, gets to know and proposes to his wife, Jeanine Kasun. She, too, loves all things related to old TV shows, particularly the 1950s and 1960s.
By bringing Jeanine into the mix, what director C.J. Wallis has created with this film is, very much, two different worlds. The one that television has created for Stu and the one that Stu has created for himself.
Stu is rather animated and almost childlike in his love for old television shows. You’ll find yourself getting excited for him as he gets opportunities to meet and become close with people such as Butch Patrick from “The Munsters,” Tony Dow of “Leave it to Beaver” fame and Dick Van Dyke. Ed Asner is interviewed before his passing and only has nice things to say about Stu and Jeanine. In fact, everyone I’ve mentioned are mad about the couple and have become close enough to them that their wedding is quite the affair filled with people Stu has treasured most of his life. Who has a life like this but Stu? It’s unreal.
“Stu’s Show,” tells us that he got his start handing out tickets to bring in live audiences for the tapings of shows. He then moved up to that show’s warm-up guy. One show mentioned was “Silver Spoons.” It’s around this time that he meets Lucille Ball. Extensive knowledge of her and the history of her programs earns him not only her admiration but a speaking part in her latest production. She insists. Stu seems to have a lot of luck like this.
Later, going to conventions based on his love of Lucy and others, he makes lifelong connections. He gets help from those connections when he creates a radio program on the internet based on the subjects of those conventions. From what I can tell, he seems to be the person who started the modern-day Podcast.
From his days of recording “I Love Lucy” and other programs on Beta and VHS, he seems to have manifested for himself a life surrounded by what he loves most. Lucy, the woman who greenlit shows such as “Star Trek” and “Mission Impossible,” shows Stu loves, was giving a seminar on the art of television. It’s suggested to him that he not take the class because she’s not very nice. Adoring her, he takes it anyway. After befriending her, he decides then and there that he’ll never take unsolicited advice and instead always listen to his heart. Oh, what he would have missed out on had he not taken that class.
The documentary then gets very deep into his relationship with Jeanine. They meet at the Lucy convention, where he is hosting Lucy trivia contests. We learn who she is, and suddenly, she has a health issue that puts her in the hospital. A large part of the film is Stu’s fight with insurance companies and institutions where she is placed. Un-Stu-like, anger swells in him. As if choreographed, he gets enraged, which he displays physically as he explains what she means to him and what he’d do if she weren’t cared for properly. This is not the Stu from the beginning of the film.
That said, meeting them both is what’s so unique about the documentary. Wallis introduces us to someone we can all relate to. He may be going through some similar circumstances in life. Then, Wallis offers to us that no dream is impossible… no goal is too far out of reach. Ultimately, this is the message you’ll walk away from after watching “Stu’s Show.” Not a bad place to be when you first sat down to watch a documentary about Lucy.
“Stu’s Show” will be available on major digital platforms May 2, 2022.
Directed by: C.J. Wallis
Starring: Stuart Shostak, Jeanine Kasun, Edward Asner
Run Time: 1h 36m