THE HONEYMOONERS: CLASSIC 39
Review by Michael Jacobson
Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, Joyce Randolph
Production Supervisor: Jackie Gleason
Audio: Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: Original Opening/Endings, Anniversary Documentary
Length: 1016 Minutes
Release Date: November 4, 2003
I am NOT going to help you make a fool out of yourself.”
don’t need any help…I’ll do it by myself!”
my humble opinion, if you could look up “comic timing” in the dictionary,
the only thing you would need to see is a picture of Jackie Gleason.
man was a genius and an artist, painting with laughter and using comedy as a
catch-all for endless ideas. As
such, I’ve loved The Honeymooners ever since I was a child (and NO, I
was not around when these shows originally aired, thank you very much).
Four well cast individuals, short smart scripts that used the characters
as the palate for the humor, and most of all, Jackie’s impeccable timing has
made this a sitcom that remains just as popular today as it was a half a century
release of The Honeymooners: The Classic 39 to DVD will bring joy to fans
of Ralph and Alice Kramden and Ed and Trixie Norton everywhere.
These are the episodes that cemented the legend of Jackie Gleason while
making indelible stars of Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph as well.
Jackie was key, it’s imperative not to overlook the contributions of his
fellow cast members. After all,
Jackie was famed for offering little to no rehearsal time before each show, and
then filming live in front of a real audience to keep him and his actors on
their toes. Things went wrong from
time to time…you can see a couple of examples in the classic 39…but the show
went on. Those who could rise to
Jackie’s level of professionalism stayed afloat.
Those who didn’t…well, they didn’t get asked back.
live audience, Gleason explained, helped the cast to hone their timing.
Crowd response was the best way to know how long or how short to hold a
moment, when to go big and when to go small, and so on.
Seeing Jackie in front of an audience was seeing a man where he was born
to be…he was like a maestro with his finely tuned instrument in hand.
And if you don’t think the laughter was enough to prove how much the
crowds appreciated him, wait til you hear a woman hollering “steady!” at
Jackie on roller skates! (“Young
grew from a stint on The Jackie Gleason Show into a program all its own.
TV viewers couldn’t get enough of Ralph Kramden and his crazy schemes,
Ed Norton and his childlike propensity to get into trouble, Alice and Trixie and
their tough but longsuffering devotion. Through
ups and downs, through trials and tribulations, the honeymoon never ended for
these two couples.
classic 39 represent early television at its finest, with some of the funniest
misadventures in the history of The Honeymooners. Fans in the 80s were eventually given a second helping of
hilarity, as Jackie Gleason opened up his own personal vault and shared his
collection of “lost” episodes with the world…a treasure trove of
television tickling not seen in decades!
even though the lost episodes became part of the lexicon, there’s just
something special about those original classic 39 that continues to resonate in
the hearts of fans. All of
Ralph’s biggest blunders are here. You
want to see him playing a spaceman, or his hysterical missteps during a TV
commercial? You want to see him
answer the $99,000 question or deal with Norton’s chronic sleepwalking?
You don’t look any further than this set….these are the true
a longtime fan of The Honeymooners, picking just one episode to label my
favorite is a lot like picking a favorite candy, when there’s so many you’d
hate to do without. But if I had
to, I’d probably pick “Brother Ralph”.
In it, Ralph gets temporarily laid off from the bus company, leading to a
tear-inducing laughfest when he and Alice endure a little role-reversal!
there’s not an episode you couldn’t go to in the classic 39 and not find an
immediate cure for whatever ails you. You
can watch ‘em in order, but you don’t have to.
Even if you’re not familiar with The Honeymooners, any episode
will get you into the spirit right away…another trait of Jackie’s genius was
his ability to reduce situational comedy to the most basic elements.
In five minutes, you’ll know who’s who and what the relationships
are…then it’s BANG! ZOOM!
elegant simplicity is part of what gives The Honeymooners such enduring
charm. It didn’t need to tackle
social issues, political topics, or wade into waters just to push the envelope.
Here was a team of stars and writers comfortable in their own skins and
doing what they did best. How sweet
it still is.
So without further ado, here are the classic 39….and awaaay we go!
|TV or Not TV||The Man From Space||Head of the House|
|Funny Money||A Matter of Record||The Worry Wart|
|The Golfer||Oh My Aching Back||Trapped|
|A Woman's Work is Never Done||The Baby Sitter||The Loudspeaker|
|A Matter of Life and Death||The $99,000 Answer||On Stage|
|The Sleepwalker||Ralph Kramden, Inc.||Opportunity Knocks But|
|Better Living Through TV||Young At Heart||Unconventional Behavior|
|Pal O' Mine||A Dog's Life||The Safety Award|
|Brother Ralph||Here Comes the Bride||Mind Your Own Business|
|Hello, Mom||Mama Loves Mambo||Alice and the Blonde|
|The Deciding Vote||Please Leave the Premises||The Bensonhurst Bomber|
|Something Fishy||Pardon My Glove||Dial J For Janitor|
|'Twas the Night Before Christmas||Young Man With a Horn||A Man's Pride|
the age of the shows, I was impressed with the overall quality of this offering.
The black and white photography looks clean, with good detail, and not a
lot of murkiness or print problems marring the experience.
The first episode, “TV or Not TV”, is a little shaky, but from then
on, the shows look quite good, with only a minimal bit of spots or scratches
here and there. Very nicely
audio is about as good as can be expected, given the age of the shows.
Dialogue is mostly clean and clear, dynamic range and background noises
are minimal. Again, the first
episode seems the most questionable, but from that point on, the sound works
more than serviceably.
bonuses are all on the last disc…they include the show’s original opening
(different narrator and a “sponsored by Buick” clip), a pair of alternate
closings featuring Jackie Gleason giving Buick an extra plug, and the
anniversary documentary from about 1985. It’s
shortened a little for the DVD, but it’s hosted by Audrey Meadows and features
then-recent interviews with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Joyce Randolph and some
of the shows’ other players and writers.
Paramount’s fantastic new collection of The Honeymooners: The Classic 39, the
honeymoon never has to end in your house. This
is television comedy at its purest and most finest.
To Art, Audrey and Joyce, thanks for fifty years of indelible laughter.
to the one and only Jackie Gleason…baby, you’re the greatest.