Release Date: March 6, 2012 (CBS Home Entertainment)
Packaging: Amaray Case
Number of Discs: 1
Number of Episodes: 8
Running Time: 207 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: English subtitles
Special Features: None
Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph return to DVD once again with eight favorite episodes from the "classic 39" episodes of The Honeymooners, as selected by fans. The single-disc release from CBS Home Entertainment has eight of the episodes from the only season of the series (as a separate entity, anyway). The characters which we are all familiar with were conceived a few years earlier as skits on The Jackie Gleason Show, and the popularity of the characters--Ralph, the working-class bus driver, wife Alice, his friend Ed Norton, and Ed's wife Trixie--lead to the creation of the classic series in the 1955-1956 TV season. While the series was loved by many, star and creator Jackie Gleason was not really a fan of the limitations and demands created by needing to create exactly 39 episodes lasting exactly 25 minutes (no more and no less) every week and returned the characters back to their familiar home on his variety show, which allowed much more flexibility (and opportunities to "repurpose" scripts, as he often did). Despite that, the "classic 39" episodes are the ones that linger most strongly in the eyes of the fans and are the most memorable of all of the different eras of The Honeymooners (which continued in different forms all the way in to the 70s). Now, CBS Home Entertainment has complied eight "favorites" of these classic episodes into a value-priced single disc collection.
The release contains eight episodes from the one and only season of the series. These begin with "TV or Not TV," where Ralph and Ed decide to share a TV set, which naturally becomes a problem. In "Funny Money," Ralph finds a suitcase filled with money, but the big-spending habit that comes with that money becomes a bigger problem when he finds out it is counterfeit. Ralph has two days to learn how to play golf (after bragging to his boss about how great he is) in "The Golfer." In "The Sleepwalker," Ralph is determined to stop Ed's sleepwalking habit. Ralph and Ed become the Billy Mayes of their era when they decide to sell a product on TV in "Better Living Through Television." Ralph tries to win a $50 prize for best costume at the Raccoon Lodge in "The Man From Outer Space." In "$99,000 Answer," Ralph is determined to go as far as he can to win the big prize. Finally, in "Young at Heart," Ralph goes to great lengths to keep his marriage as young as the day it began.
The episodes are unedited, with very consistent runtimes (about 26 minutes even per episode), which are as follows:
"TV or Not TV" (26:02)
"Funny Money" (26:03)
"The Golfer" (26:03)
"The Sleepwalker" (26:00)
"Better Living Through Television" (26:02)
"The Man From Space" (26:01)
"$99,000 Answer" (26:01)
"Young at Heart" (26:00)
The packaging for this DVD is very basic, using a standard Amaray case. The cover art has a photo of Ralph Kramden standing in front of a bus with the other main characters on the bus in the background. On the back, there is a very brief description of the episodes on the set, along with a listing of all of the episodes, and a few photos from the episodes. Inside the case, there is a listing of all of the episodes as well, along with descriptions and original airdates. The single disc is just gray, with the series logo and a listing of episodes printed on it.
Menu Design and Navigation:
There is only one menu on the set: the main menu, which has artwork that is very similar (though not identical) to the cover artwork. It is once again a photo of Ralph Kramden standing in front of a bus with the other main characters, but the shot of the other characters on the bus is slightly different. The main menu lists all of the episodes, along with a subtitles option. Once you select an episode, it plays right away. And, in an unusual move for a sitcom, there is no Play All option. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality of the episodes on the DVD is perfectly adequate, though I have seen other series as old as this one look a bit better. In all fairness, though, these do look a lot better than the release that MPI put out containing the "complete series" of the lost episodes (although that is definitely a great set, it is just that they had worse source material to work with on those). There is a little bit of grain and debris on the episodes, but it is kept to a minimum, and it isn't all that bad. You'll even notice changes in quality from one part of the episode to another; the closing tags on many episodes (which are often cut in syndication) have a tendency to look worse than any other part of the episode in many instances. The audio, as is often the case with any version of this series, is very dull and unimpressive. But that is what we have come to expect. Each episode contains English subtitles.
There aren't any special features on this release, but I wasn't really expecting any, either.
Basically, this release contains eight episodes of a series that only lasted 39 episodes in the first place. And all of those 39 episodes are already on DVD in a collection that, at least at the present time, not much more expensive than this release. So, while this is a decent DVD with great episodes, it is probably worth it to just go ahead and purchase the complete series and get all 39 at once and skip this release. If you already own that release, I don't really see any reason to own this release. Very rarely do I recommend that people skip on buying a DVD with great episodes at a low price, but there isn't that much of a value-added incentive to this release compared to the release of the full series. But if these eight episodes truly are the only episodes that you are interested in, then this DVD may be for you.