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HTF REVIEW: The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes (Recommended)

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#1 of 62 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 27 2003 - 02:54 AM

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The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes



Studio: Paramount

Year: 1955 - 1956

Rated: NR

Length: 1016 minutes on 5 DVD 9's

Aspect Ratio: Fullscreen

Audio: DD Mono

Extras: Anniversary Show, Original show opening / closing

SRP: Under $40 USD
Release Date: November 4, 2003





Lovable loser Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), wife Alice (Audrey Meadows), screwball neighbor Ed Norton (Art Carney) and his wife Trixie (Joyce Randolph) finally make their way to DVD on November 4 with Paramount’s release of The Honeymooners “Classic 39 “ Episodes. The Honeymooners blazed the trail for so many situation comedies that followed, it’s fitting that these “Classic 39” episodes get the royal DVD treatment, archiving the landmark show for years to come.

So many of today’s stand-up comedians and comic actors were inspired by Jackie Gleason, it is hard to believe that the television landscape of today would be anything like it is now, had it not been for his great influence. It’s hard to find anyone today, nearly fifty years after the debut of The Honeymooners, who isn’t familiar with either that show - or The Jackie Gleason Show (where the latter show’s characters were created).

Simple in concept - blue collar Americans struggling to carve out their piece of the American pie in Brooklyn, NY - this show has often been imitated but never duplicated.

The Package and Discs
The Honeymooners “Classic 39” Episodes comes to you on 5 discs in Thin Paks, surrounded by a cardboard slipcase. Photos from the episodes appear on the box, and on the individual cases. The package is nicely done, and it takes up less than one and a half inches of space on your DVD shelf.

The first four discs contain eight episodes each, with no extras aside from a subtitle selection screen. The fifth disc contains the remaining episodes, as well as the set’s special features.
Menus are static, and simply laid out. Select the episode you want, and it plays. There is no chapter selection screen, but each episode contains four chapters. Chapter one is the opening credits, and chapter four is the closing credits. Chapter two begins at the start of the program, immediately following the opening credits... simple and quick access to the program material.

So, how’s it look? And what about the sound?
I was a bit concerned when I popped in disc one and selected episode 1, “TV or not TV.” The episode is marred by a few fine scratches throughout, and there is a moderate amount of dust. Worse, the audio is quite muddy, making dialog difficult to hear. Sure, I know this is old source material, but I was hoping for better. Thankfully, at least the dust diminishes over time in this first episode.

While I didn’t screen every episode on the set (I watched four episodes, plus the extras), every other episode I did take a look at looked and sounded spectacular, given the age of the source elements. The picture was sharp and high in contrast, with excellent black levels and shadow detail. An occasional spot of dust can be seen, but overall the picture after the first episode is excellent.

Also, after the first episode, the sound is much clearer and fuller. Dialog on the Dolby Digital Mono track is crisp and clean, with nice clear mid-range.

Considering how this show has been presented on television in reruns over the years, even the first episode is an improvement, but the rest of the episodes I screened were a sight to behold, and music to my ears.

Impressive!

Special Features

Disc 5 includes The Honeymooners Anniversary Special (DVD version). This special was made for the 35th anniversary of the show, and is hosted by Audrey Meadows. Interviews with Art Carney and Joyce Randolph, as well as some of the “Gleason Players” and writers of the show are included, plus archival interviews with Jackie Gleason. Still, this is primarily a “clips” retrospective on the show. I don’t recall seeing this special when it originally aired on CBS, but I suspect the “DVD Version” is edited down from that original broadcast. This version runs 21 minutes, 53 seconds.

Also included are original series openings and closings, not seen since 1956. These are basically the “brought to you by Buick” sequences seen on the original broadcast, and included Gleason pitching the product.

Parting Thoughts

With the noted exception of the flaws in episode 1, the audio and video on this set is outstanding. You will have never seen these shows look or sound better than this.

I don’t know what kind of archival material is available on this show, but the extras left me wanting a bit more. It could certainly be a “rights” issue, but it would have been nice to see some clips from the original Jackie Gleason Show sketches, or see the 60 Minutes interview with Gleason (clips of which are in the Anniversary Special) in its entirety.

Maybe, if this set sells well, we’ll see The Jackie Gleason Show on DVD, with some more extras than are presented here...

Still, if you are a Jackie Gleason fan, you can’t go wrong with this set. At an estimated street price under $40, it’s a bargain.

Recommended!

#2 of 62 OFFLINE   Tony Scello

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Posted October 27 2003 - 03:38 AM

Thanks for the great review! I have this set pre-ordered and can't wait to get my hands on it. It sounds like Paramount did a pretty decent job with the setPosted Image
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#3 of 62 OFFLINE   todd stone

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Posted October 27 2003 - 03:58 AM

excellent! I CANNOT wait! Huge Jackie fan.
Lo, there do I see my mother, and my sisters, and my brothers, Lo, there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning, Lo, they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, In the halls of Valhalla,where the brave may live...

#4 of 62 OFFLINE   BrianP

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Posted October 27 2003 - 04:17 AM

I want to purchase this set but still looking for a good deal.

#5 of 62 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 27 2003 - 04:36 AM

Quote:
I want to purchase this set but still looking for a good deal.


Hmm... and here I thought that less than a buck per episode was a steal!

-Scott

#6 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 04:51 AM

Thanks, for the great review Scott !nice and early too !Posted Image Posted Image How sweet it is !Posted Image
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#7 of 62 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted October 27 2003 - 04:54 AM

Quote:
Hmm... and here I thought that less than a buck per episode was a steal!
It is - it's a great deal for the best television sitcom of all time!
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#8 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 05:04 AM

Scott, it should be noted that the episode, tv or not tv was always a bad looking episode, as far as picture quality goes ,so it is definitely the source material. Cant wait till tuesday november 4 ! !Posted Image
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#9 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 05:14 AM

Also 1 question Scott, in your review you mentioned thin cases, that means seperate keep cases inside the set right ?
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#10 of 62 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted October 27 2003 - 05:32 AM

He said Thin Paks inside the Cardboard Case, good job Paramount
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#11 of 62 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 27 2003 - 05:34 AM

Yes... separate cases. Same cases and same size outer sleeve as on the recent Dick Van Dyke sets.

-Scott

#12 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 05:36 AM

Thanks Scott !Posted Image Posted Image
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#13 of 62 OFFLINE   todd stone

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Posted October 27 2003 - 07:19 AM

does it look like the VHS holder, where they are all waving from the bus?
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#14 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 07:30 AM

By the way Todd, not that i have the set yet, but the picture of them waving on the bus is on the dvd back cover !I also doubt its like the vhs holder, a while back tv shows on dvd.com had a pretty good picture of the outer packaging of the set, and at least to me it didnt look like the old vhs holder.
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#15 of 62 OFFLINE   StevenFC

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Posted October 27 2003 - 07:40 AM

One of my must have tv shows. I never thought it would be released. Now when can I look forward to the complete "The Andy Griffith Show" on DVD??Posted Image
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#16 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 09:30 PM

Anyone know if this episode that ill describe is part of this set, or from the Jackie Gleason show? Ed buys a ring for his boss, but Ralph mistakes it for his.Also includes the classic lines,you can go bowling with your great pal Jim Mckever.But i dont want Jim Mckever i want you !Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
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#17 of 62 OFFLINE   Ted Kontos

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Posted October 27 2003 - 11:11 PM

Tony,

That episode is one of the "Classic 39". And let's not forget Ralph's new best friend, Teddy Oberman!

Ted
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#18 of 62 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 27 2003 - 11:20 PM

Thanks Ted !HEh, Teddy Oberman , thats the guy who ate everything in sight.Posted Image
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#19 of 62 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted October 27 2003 - 11:30 PM

Jim McKeever - "Ole Muck & Mire"
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#20 of 62 OFFLINE   John_VI

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Posted October 28 2003 - 03:48 AM

Where can I find a listing of the epiodes contained on the DVD?
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