Blu-ray Review The Honeymooners: Classic 39 Episodes Blu-ray Review

Will Krupp

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Now that you mention it, I do recall reading (quite recently, in fact!) that no subsequent retakes, or even pick up shots were done! The cast and crew had to rely on getting the production sorted out during rehearsals. Given the spectacular results, this was a truly remarkable collective achievement!
I can distinctly remember in the great old days of the Merv Griffin/Mike Douglas 1970's talk shows, a guest shot on Merv with Audrey Meadows. She told a great story about the production of these shows. When Jackie Gleason, in character as Ralph Kramden, would angrily, and with an exasperated expression on his face, pace up and down the stage while saying nothing (a funny "character bit" that Ralph often did when he was arguing with Alice or Norton, as though he couldn't...even) it actually meant that he had forgotten his line and Art Carney and Audrey knew that meant they had to launch in to steer the scene back on track. It never failed and they knew exactly what they had to do when they saw that look in his eye. An amazing production.
 

FanCollector

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Since you mentioned Audrey Meadows, I'd like to take the opportunity to laud her contribution to the show. She was one of the great straight men of all time because she not only provided the reality to set up the jokes, she allowed us to love Ralph Kramden. And if we don't love Ralph Kramden, then none of the show is funny at all.

Ms. Meadows projected that iron resolve almost all the time. (Ever notice how she doesn't even blink when Gleason yells and makes sudden movements right in her face? How did she do that? It seems to defy the central nervous system, but it added so much to the show by illustrating that Alice never fears Ralph even at the most unconscious level.) She was a strong woman on television in a way that wouldn't be seen elsewhere there for decades. And yet she never comes across as shrewish or nasty because she plays the part with both intelligence (it's hard to blame her when she is always right) and with such visible love. Ralph is, in essence, a little boy, and Ms. Meadows's Alice realizes that and (mostly) loves him for who he is. Ralph Kramden will die a bus driver and Alice knows it. But look at how sweet and supportive Audrey Meadows plays the end of Young Man With A Horn when she tells him how proud she is and how she knows he will be a success. The ending of On Stage doesn't make much logical sense, but her performance is so endearing that she sells it anyway. The "blocking" character is as old as comedy itself, but making the blocking character such a loving presence at the same time was Ms. Meadows's own contribution to the genre.

Because that strength was the hallmark of Alice's character, her moments of vulnerability stand out as being very powerful. Look at "Better Living Through TV," when she is scolding Ralph for his harebrained schemes and he remarks that asking her to marry him was his biggest harebrained scheme. She gets very serious and tells him never to say that again. Ms. Meadows plays the hurt in a very real way and Gleason clearly responds to it, making a throwaway moment something unforgettable.

If The Honeymooners is such a unique achievement because it plays the very broad comedy against a background of stark reality, it's Audrey Meadows who provides a lot of that reality and thus, Audrey Meadows who helps make the show as special as it is.
 

jdee28

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I like Audrey Meadows too, but for me she took away from the reality of the show. It would be very unlikely in real life for someone like Kramden to be married to someone as pretty and young as Audrey Meadows. I found the original Alice, Pert Kelton, to be much more realistic in that respect, as to the type that Kramden would really end up with.
 

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I've been watching Dean Martin Roasts lately, and Audrey Meadows was a frequent roaster on the show. Her delevery and timing is always spot on. She could have easily been a stand up comedian. I guess the best straight men are funny themselves.
 
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bigshot

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I like Audrey Meadows too, but for me she took away from the reality of the show. No way in real life would someone like Kramden be married to someone as pretty and young as Audrey Meadows. I found the original Alice, Pert Kelton, to be much more realistic in that respect, as to the type that Kramden would really end up with.
The show wouldn't have been nearly as good if everyone was a cartoon character with unattractive aspects. Meadows was absolutely perfect because she was able to be her own person next to Ralph and act as someone women could identify with.
 

Will Krupp

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I found the original Alice, Pert Kelton, to be much more realistic in that respect, as to the type that Kramden would really end up with.
I love Pert Kelton, and thank God we have her performance as Mrs. Paroo in THE MUSIC MAN forever and ever. She was blacklisted due to her husband's politics in the early 50's and DuMont wanted her dropped from Gleason's "Cavalcade of Stars." Gleason refused to let her go and kept her on the show with him until the end of the 1951-1952 season. When his show moved to CBS in the fall of 1952 (and he was finally making what Alfred Hitchcock always referred to as "dizzy money") he no longer had the power to keep her and she had to be dropped. For CBS's part, they were under incredible scrutiny because of the perception at the time that they were a lefty liberal hotbed, and they couldn't risk a blacklisted actress on the payroll. In order to save her from embarrassment, Gleason told the press she had to leave due to a heart condition.

Years later, during the color Honeymooner episodes, she made a guest appearance playing Alice's MOTHER (!!!)

All that being said, I don't know that the HONEYMOONERS would hold such a perfect place in our hearts without the change to Audrey Meadows. Her Alice added far more gravitas and grounded Ralph without being shrewish.
 
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Rob_Ray

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I like Audrey Meadows too, but for me she took away from the reality of the show. It would be very unlikely in real life for someone like Kramden to be married to someone as pretty and young as Audrey Meadows. I found the original Alice, Pert Kelton, to be much more realistic in that respect, as to the type that Kramden would really end up with.
You have a point, but this also puts a spotlight on why Audrey was so perfect. Pert's Alice was too similar to Ralph as a character type (loud and bombastic) so that the contrast between two strong but completely different personalities wasn't there.
 

FanCollector

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The contrast was very important, and also the fact that Meadows's Alice was in control without generally having to raise her voice at all. (She does it more so in the early CBS sketches, but as they refined the characters, she stops.) Ms. Meadows was lovely, but I thought that made the point more strongly: she is pretty and smart and sweet. She could do a lot better than Ralph, but he's the one she loves. (As for the age difference, the one between Kelton and Gleason was larger than the one between Gleason and Meadows.)
 
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Tony Bensley

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I love this picture of Audrey and Jayne backstage at Steve Allen's TV show. Such pretty girls! I love their glasses!

View attachment 31559
Jayne and Audrey look so much alike, you'd think they were twins, but they weren't, with Jayne Meadows being about 3 years Audrey's senior.

By the way, that's a marvelous photo of the Meadows Sisters, Will! Thank you very much for sharing! :)

CHEERS! :)

Tony
 

Tony Bensley

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My Blu-ray set of THE HONEYMOONERS "CLASSIC 39 EPISODES" finally arrived in today's mail! :)

It was a bit anticlimactic, in that we didn't even hear the postal van, even though he pulls up right behind our house, and it was, for this spring, a rare rainy day, but I'll take it!

I concur that especially for a 5 disc set, it sure is slim, and yet it appears to be packaged efficiently. It's fantastic to finally have the "Classic 39 Episodes" on home video, especially on Blu-ray! I'm looking forward to fresh viewings of the syndicated prints in their best home video presentation, and also to viewing some "new to me" bits, as well!

CHEERS! :)
 

Tony Bensley

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Having viewed the first "TV Or Not TV" episode, despite the print quality shortcomings (Which I found to be mostly negligible!), for me, it was a most delightful visual and aural experience! Of course, Alice's wanting a TV amounts to setting up the great interplay between Ralph and Ed, as we don't get to see her watch anything even once! For those who have never seen this gem of an episode, I'll not give away any more in this post!

However, what I will state is if "TV Or Not TV" represents the worst visual quality of this "Classic 39 Episode"set (The extra "Night Of Original Broadcast" bits, notwithstanding!), then I am stoked for viewing what follows!

CHEERS! :)
 

dvdclon

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Having viewed the first "TV Or Not TV" episode, despite the print quality shortcomings (Which I found to be mostly negligible!), for me, it was a most delightful visual and aural experience! Of course, Alice's wanting a TV amounts to setting up the great interplay between Ralph and Ed, as we don't get to see her watch anything even once! For those who have never seen this gem of an episode, I'll not give away any more in this post!

However, what I will state is if "TV Or Not TV" represents the worst visual quality of this "Classic 39 Episode"set (The extra "Night Of Original Broadcast" bits, notwithstanding!), then I am stoked for viewing what follows!

CHEERS! :)
I recently finished watching my set and what struck me in that first episode was how prophetic Ralph Kramden was. He told Alice that he was waiting for 3-D TV before buying a set.
 

Tony Bensley

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I recently finished watching my set and what struck me in that first episode was how prophetic Ralph Kramden was. He told Alice that he was waiting for 3-D TV before buying a set.
Yeah, but it took over 50 years for it to happen! For me, it does also somewhat highlight the futile trap some of us can create in taking the position of holding off for such and such an innovation. Of course, Ralph's 3-D TV comment was put in as reference to the then recent 3-D Movie craze that had began a couple of years prior, and it remains a hilarious line! If this bit wasn't referenced in the early ads for 3-D TV when that innovation finally hit the marketplace several years back, it should have been! :3dglasses:

CHEERS! :)
 
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Tony Bensley

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The other day, I viewed "The Golfer" episode. This, just the 3rd of the "Classic 39" shows, has always been one of my favorites (I defy anyone NOT to laugh at Ed Norton's silly version of "Addressing" the Ball!), and seeing the original openings and closings for the first time was also a real treat! :)

For me, the only slightly less positive aspect of the above episode is it seems slightly incomplete, but that's probably just from the way the concluding scene ends, and the episode itself is certainly full length!

CHEERS! :)
 

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