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Old 05-15-2020, 07:49 AM   #1
Frank Gannucci
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Default Honeymooners Extras Reviews: Original openings/closings & Honeymooners 50th Anniv.:

Honeymooners Special Features Reviews: Original openings & closings & the Honeymooners 50th Anniversary Special.

Original openings & closings:

DVD: Attached to episodes #33 - 39 of the classic 39, with the original opening and closings of the show, along with the edited Honeymooners 35th Anniversary special that aired on CBS. Paramount edited the lost episode clips that were originally apart of this special. On the HD Blu-Ray set, it comes with the episodes that have the original sponsor ads.

The opening of the show (which can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmgWeoGg4wc) is supposedly on this Classic 39 set. I didn’t see it. Perhaps it is an Easter egg. The opening has Jack Lescoulie yelling out the names rather than Gaylord Avery (the original announcer). The actors names don’t appear on moons but appear in big white letters. After Jack says: “The Honeymooners”, a clip of a bus driving down a street in New York City is shown while all of a sudden, the song is now played at a fast speed. Then we see the inside of the bus while it is still in motion while the famous cast member’s names appear on screen. The bus stops and a Buick stops next to it. Jack: “Brought to you by Buick.” The traffic light flashes green. The cars leave. Jack (yells): “AND AWAY WE GO!”

The next opening is very similar to the syndicated opening. The only difference is that once again, Jack Lescoulie yells out the names and after he yells: “JOYCE RANDOLPH”, the old Buick logo appears on the moon and then a clip of a Buick driving off is shown while Jack yells: “AND AWAY WE GO!” In 2004 on the old Honeymooners.net Message Board, someone claims that they say this intro while watching the Honeymooners on a TV station in Philly in the 70s. I would imagine if that happened, that TV station would have cut off Jack in mid-sentence when he did his intro. On a side note, for the longest time, I never knew that it was Jack Lescoulie who did the voice for these intros.

The first closing has Jackie in his smoking jacket standing on stage in front of a sign that says: “Best Buick Yet.” Jackie: “Have you ever noticed that the stronger the guy is, the quieter he is? Brother that is Buick ’56. It is the quietest, smoothest car you ever drove. Go try one. Good night everyone.” The credits play on a gray background that has the Jackie Gleason Away We Go stick figure logo on it. The credits start with: “Your BUICK Dealer has brought you…The Honeymooners.”

The second closing is similar to the first one. In this one, Jackie is in his business suit and is standing on stage in front of a sign that says: “Best Buick Yet.” Jackie: “Let me tell you something folks, it is a great time to buy a Buick. As far as your present car, trade in while the trade is good. You couldn’t pick a better time than now to trade in your car and get a Buick. It is a great time to buy a Buick. Good night everyone. The credits play on a gray background that has the Jackie Gleason Away We Go stick figure logo on it. The credits start with: “Your BUICK Dealer has brought you…The Honeymooners.”

50th Anniversary Celebration.

DVD: On the HD Blu-Ray set, it is attached to episodes #34-39 of the classic 39, "Person To Person" segment with Jackie Gleason, the full 1-hour musical special The Honeymooners: The Adoption from 1966, the edited Honeymooners 35th Anniversary special that aired on CBS (Paramount edited the lost episode clips that were originally apart of this special) and two versions of "The Bensonhurst Bomber" (one has the original sponsor ads) and two versions of "A Man's Pride" (one has the original sponsor ads.)
Air Date: 5/6/02

This much-anticipated special aired in 2002. According to the Larry King Honeymooners Special that aired on CNN before this, it was mentioned that the special was going to include a bunch of rare clips. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I am thinking that the Larry King Special was taped a long time in advance (Larry had no callers that night). But, we do get a great host for this special. Real-life Honeymooners fan Kevin James who is a real character.

There are fans that felt that this should have been two hours. I think I agree since the I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary Special that aired several months prior was two hours and had a home video release. This DVD set marks the first time that this special got a home video release.

The special starts with the classic opening theme that we love but soon the camera cuts away from the opening to show what I believe is the original Honeymooners set at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. The theme also changes from the classic theme to to a modernized version of the theme. We join Kevin. He says that like all of us, he is a big (quite litterally) fan. Kevin: "When I started out as a struggling comedian, I watched Jackie's work." Considerating that Kevin was in his late 30s at the time, I am wondering if he watched Jackie's final years of work or his earlier work. He then tells a abridged version of the history of the show before concluding with: "I got to work out more." Ha! He then iintroduces us to some clips of the show (all from the Classic 39.)

Also in this special, we start to here from then-current stars. We hear how they love the show. The first one is Tom Hanks (who co-starred in Gleason's final movie: "Nothing In Common.") He said you saw the set shake every now and then. I saw it shake only once. That was the 1952 version of Quiz Show. Then we see clips from an old 60 Minutes interview with Gleason. Jackie said the shows were hard to write because Jack wanted the shows to be realistic. Jackie: "The characters were funny."

We cut back to Kevin when he talks about the start of the show in October '51. He said that Jackie wanted to have a show in which the couple would be arguing. Kevin: "Jackie knew a lot of people in Brooklyn that were like this but he didn't know what to call the sketch. He thought of calling it 'The Beast.'" Now, there's a name that wouldn't work. Kevin: "Finally, Jackie and his writers came up with the Honeymooners." They show clips (not a clip as Kevin said) of the first sketch: "Bread" which shows Ed Norton make a debut as a cop.

They show a clip from an old Art Carney interview from 1995. (At the time, Art was too sick to be interviewed since he was in a nursing home at the time.) I should point out that even though the special said that the Jackie interview was from 1984, they didn't mention the year of the Art interview which gave people the impression that it was recent. Art says he came up with the idea of his character wearing a t-shirt, vest, hat and beat-up pants. Next is a clip from Carol Burnett in which she talks about the classic scene from "Head of The House" where Ralph & Ed thought they were drinking wine but Alice switched the beer with grape juice. They acted like they were drunk and went totally off the script and EVERYONE was laughing. Carol: "You could tell that they were improvising." Tom Hanks talks about that scene too. Tom: "Gleason goes..." (imitating Gleason): "That Carney."

Kevin introduces us to a scene from "The New Bowling Ball." He says that it has not been scene since Oct. '52. What about the time it was shown on one of the Best of Gleason Specials that aired on FOX? Anyway, the clip is of Ed & Alice getting the ball of Ralph. Back to the Art interview. He says they filmed the 39 live and they never stopped unless a camera conked out, someone got hurt or something drastic happened. Back to the Jackie interview. Jack mentions the time that him, Art and Pert did a script that was COMPLETLY IMPROVISED. It must have been a show that was either not taped or is still lost (like the episode entitled: "Meat Substitute.") He mentions that him and the other two had 90 minutes to write a sketch so they went over to Jackie's apartment. Pert got on the typewriter and they couldn't think of anything so they had a few drinks and they couldn't think of anything. Then a few more drinks and still nothing. So Jackie decided to improvise the whole thing. How did they do all this in 90 mins.? According to Gleason, he heard that that was the best Honeymooners sketch that they had made up until that point. They then show the funny scene from the lost episode version of The Adoption where they load the glove with milk and then Ed cuts a whole in one of the fingers so the "baby" can drink which causes Ralph to get a face full of milk. Ha!

Back to the Hanks interview where he talks about how those B&W kinescopes made it look like it was being shown from someone's apartment in Brooklyn. Back to Kevin where he talks about how CBS and Gleason talked about turning the Honeymooners into 30 minute sitcoms that comedy fans call the Classic 39. Kevin: "Jackie insisted that they film the show live in one take without no stopping for mistakes. That isn't easy and I should know. I am on my third take right now reading this." Ha! Kevin: "Jackie said that by doing this, he knew that the laughter would be fresh and spontanious and this way he can be at the bar by the time the end credits would run." How is that possible? Anyway, a clip of Ed dancing "The Hucklebuck" is shown followed by Ralph & Ed lifting the dresser from "A Woman's Work Is Never Done" is shown complete with their hillarious first unsuccessful attempt where Ralph "tried" to lift but couldn't because Ed didn't lift. (Ralph said to Ed: "I will say 1, 2, 3 and then we will lift and heave-ho. 1...2...3...lift..." [straining, yells]: "WHY DIDN'T YOU LIFT?" Ed: "We didn't heave-ho." Ed then puts the drawers ON TOP of the dresser which somehow makes the dresser easier to move.) Next is the vaccum "sucking" Ralph's lips clip from "The Deciding Vote." Back to the Art interview where he says that his favorite episodes are "The Golfer" & "Better Living Through TV." Art mentioned that he pushed Jackie into the wall that according to him was a part of the script but the wall came down which was not part of the script. He says this even though if you watch the clip, Art didn't even touch Jack and Jack leaned against the wall and it fell down. Now we have a clip of actor Dennis Franz where he talked about Jackie's genius that he brought to Ralph.

Kevin is shown next to the front door. Kevin: "Ralph may have been a bus driver but when he got home he was King of The Castle." They next show clips of Ralph acting King (all from the Classic 39) complete with clips of Ralph throwing people out. They then show a very rare clip of a Jackie interview from '62 where he says that after Ralph made a point and the balloon had been busted, he would rub his toe in the ground and apologize to Alice which in his simple mind, made everything right. They then show more clips from the Classic 39 where Ralph "threatens" Alice, a clip where he insults her and a clip from the end of "Brother Ralph" where he yells: "SAY I AM A MANIAC ALICE. GO AHEAD. I DON'T CARE. THAT IS HOW I FEEL." Alice responds by saying that she loves him. Cue them hugging and Ralph saying: "Baby, you're the greatest." More Classic 39 clips follow where they do the same thing. Back to the Hanks iinterview where he talks about the time he went to what I am assuming now is called The Paley Center of The Media where he found a kinescope of one of the Pert Kelton episodes where he says that Jackie was thin.Tom: "He looked like Dean Martin." He did? I saw the Really Lost Debut Episodes and the 1951 version of XMas Party and I don't remember seeing Jackie thin. He got in better shape later on though. They next show a clip from that same '62 Jackie iinterview where Jackie and the interviewer laughed when Jackie says this: "I had a lot of fun being fat. I had a lot of fun being skinny too. I have been fat longer than skinny so I have had more fun being fat." Next, clips from the Classic 39 are shown in which the characters talk about how fat Ralph is.

Kevin is than shown getting a banana out of the ice box. Kevin: "Jack never thought of himself as fat. Neither do I. We are just...highly delusional. Unfortuately for Ralph, everyone had something to say about hiis weight but no one got under his skiin like his mother-in-law. They next show clips of her making fun of Ralph as well as Ralph angerily talking about her. This clipfest wouldn't be complete wiithout the clip of Ralph yelling to her: "YOU ARE A BLABBERMOUTH! A BLAB-ER-MOUTH!" complete with him kicking her out. Back to the 60 minutes iinterview where Jackie says that Ralph doesn't have a lot of ability but he keeps on trying. He gets ideas to make him and Alice happy. He fails. When this happens, Alice feels a great deal of affection. She knows why he did it. He apologizes all the time." Clips of Ralph's ideas are shown.

We now join Kevin at the dinner table where he states that Kramden and Norton are the funniest duo of all time in his opinion. Clips of them are shown. Back to the Hanks interview where he states that Ralph & Ed were in tune like the time they were handcuffed together. Tom: "I don't know how much of that is scripted." A clip where Ed asks Ralph if he can smoke and Ralph's response is played. What was the response? Ralph: "I don't care if you burn." Back to the Jackie Open End interview where he praises Carney. One of the things he says is that Carney is the best comedic sensitive that he ever worked with and all time. Back to the Art interview. Art wishes he was more like Norton himself since it is free and easy. Art recalls how Ed would prepare himself before he wrote things by moving his cuffs etc. He got that from his dad when his dad when his dad had to sign his report card and this made Art mad to the point where he said to himself: "Pop, would you please sign it?"

Kevin is shown walking on the set. He says that the belief that the 39 was a ratings success is false and so they went back to being a sketch on the Jackie Gleason Show. He talks about the first Honeymooners musical. A clip of Jack Lescoulie introducing the sketch is shown but it is edited. Then we see a brief clip of Jackie signing with everybody: "You Can See It In Par-ee." Now we get a clip of an interview from John Ritter where his favorite Honeymooners moment was a take Jackie did where as Ralph, he thinks someone is after him. He walks past the window and he glances at a guy who according to John was a window cleaner or something like that. (It was a TV repairman.) John: "He keeps walking and you wonder when it is going to register. When it does, he goes: "WOAH! Jackie, love ya."

Kevin talks about how Jackie wouldn't do the Honeymooners without Art and that Art left after the '57 season. Kevin than says that when Art became available! he would whip up a sketch on his 60s variety show. A clip from "TV Game of The Week" is played. This was a rare clip back than and it is today even thought he episode arrived on the tape trading circuit in 2013. Than a clip from the 60s version of The Adoption is shown. Back to the David Franz interview where he claims that he has great memories of ALL he Honeymooners. A favorite clip of his was from "The $99,000 Answer" where Ed helped Ralph by playing tunes on the piano and that Ed would warm up to every song by playing a song that Ralph didn't know. (It was Swanee River.) When Ralph got on the game show, that particular song is played first and Ralph is stumped as to who wrote it. So he guesses: "Ed Norton?" Wrong answer of course. Kevin says that even Jackie had favorite episodes so much so that he would do them live in the 50s, film them as a Classic 39 episode and than bring them back in the 60s. Uh, the only repeating sketch that was done as a Classic 39 episode was "Six Months To Live"/"A Matter of Life & Death" Kevin. He than introduces us to that episode by playing clips from each version of that episode (except the '57 version) including the short sketch. The clips are played together to the point where they look like one big clip at first than they jump the part of the versions where Ralph gets told that he is not dying. Those clips are played together to the point where they look lime one big clip. Now, until Oct. 2017 when Time Life released the box set of the 1960s version of the Jackie Gleason Show called: Jackie Gleason Show In Color", I was looking for all of those short color sketches. I am currently looking for the "Incredible World of Ed Norton" so if this special aired today instead of 2002, I think I would have anticipated it more.

Back to the Hanks interview where he talks about when Ralph would pace back and forth and the times where Ralph would say: "I'll tell you why Alice. I will tell you why Alice. Oh, I will tell you why Alice." A clip of Ralph pacing from "Young Man With A Horn" is played. Tom: "The Audience that was tuning in was the Ralph Kramdens of the world and he was feeding off of them."

After the break, they play a clip from Kevin's old TV show where he is having a dream that he is acting lime Ralph and his TV wife (Leah Remini) is acting like Alice. Their black friend (Victor Williams) is acting like Norton. See, Mike Epps wasn't the first black guy to act like Norton. They use their character names Doug, Carrie and Deacon respectively into at episode of Kevin's old TV show. (I think you know what show I am referring to.) Back to Kevin. He talks about the Color Honeymooners and that most of the time, they were hour-long musicals. He introduces us to a returning Pert Kelton who would play Alice's mother. A clip of that is shown. Other Color Honeymooners clips are shown. Back to Kevin again. Kevin: "By 1970, big changes were coming to CBS. Established shows like the Jackie Gleason Show were not heir way out. Jackie came back years later with reunion specials on another network." I guess he didn't want to say ABC. He then shows us something extraordinary according to him. It's the Honeymooners episode called "Women's Lib." The title of the sketch wasn't said on this special. Kevin says that this sketch was hard to find as JGE didn't have it but was found at what is now Paley Center of The Media. This was indeed a rare clip. Today, it still is even though it was released by MPI in 2008. In the Honeymooners Companion book that was made in 1978, no mention was made of this episode but a picture of it where Ralph is looking at the fictional Plaything magazine with the word "Plaything" pasted on top (it was in reality Playgirl magazine) was with the caption: "Gleason in the later Miami episodes." Yeah, that book had tons of mistakes that I won't get into. In that clip when Ralph says: A nun got on my bus. I said: 'Good morning Sister.' She said: 'Don't call me Sister. Call me Siss." If you watch him saying that from this special and watch the CBS version and the MPI version, you will see two different camera angles. Other clips from the 70s are shown. A clip from the 60 minutes interview is shown where Jackie says: "If you have a crowd and you go out there and induce them to laugh, there is no greater thrill." I agree. Other funny clips from the Classic 39 are shown before Kevin thanks Jackie, Art, Audrey and Joyce for that brief period of time 50 (now 64) years ago. Kevin: "They made us think and most importantly, they made us smile." He bids us goodnight.

The credits roll as CBS plugs the then-upcoming episode of the Late Show With David Letterman with Mary Tyler Moore.

A lot of people (myself included) thought this special was a disappointment. I thought it was good though but I wished that they had more rare clips like they had promised us especially more Color clips because a certain network (*cough**cough*Hallmark Channel*cough**cough*) backed out of showing them with no explanation at the time. We now think it was due to either TV Land having a problem with them airing the show due to the fact that TV Land airing the 50s versions and/or musical clearance issues. What a surprise if one of the reasons was musical clearance issues. Back then, us fans were getting disappointed a lot of networks as far as the Honeymooners goes as well as MPI and I guess it holds true today but not as much today. I also think that this special was to feature more rare clips before they changed it airing more Classic 39 clips to satisfy the masses because like I said earlier on the Larry King interview, it was mentioned that this special was going to feature a lot of rare clips. Like I said, that interview may have been done a long time before the special aired and not a few days before it aired. (The Larry Ling special aired on a Friday and the anniversary special aired three days later.) Also, one misconception that people have is that CBS made the special. I remember hearing that that is not true and it was made by Paul Brownstein Productions and all CBS did was air it. Bottom line, I think you may enjoy this but for the most part, you wouldn't be missing a lot if you don't unless you never saw the Classic 39.

Credit I think goes to (the original) Bill's 'Mooners Archives, eBay.com, tv.com, Honeymooners Lost Episodes Book, tvguide.com, honeymooners.net, Honeymooners Box Set booklet Honeymooners Lost Episodes DVD booklet, Wikipedia.org, Yahoo Groups You're A Riot! & Amazon.com.
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