Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

There’s three things I always remember about my Grandpa Sam: his love for the Yankees, his love for Charlie Chaplin, and his love for The Honeymooners. Since the local channel’s rebroadcast The Honeymooners night after night, year after year, I’ve always had a deep love for The Honeymooners as well. Still love Chaplin too. I won’t get started on the New York Yankees…

The Honeymooners return in a new collection titled The Jackie Gleason Show In Color. The cover of the DVD is happy to announce that these are “Unreleased Episodes” which I thought weird. How is there still more Honeymooners episodes out there that aren’t released to the public? Are there any more out there that have yet to be released?!?!?!?  But the fact that this is the first time they’ve been seen since they aired nearly fifty years ago is incredible.

The Jackie Gleason Show ran on and off for twenty years or so – The Honeymooners sketches always being the big draw of the show. These episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show come from the very late sixties right before the show was cancelled for good by CBS. The setup is usually two to three people (usually comedians, sometimes singers) coming out to interact with Jackie in some way and then a Honeymooners sketch complete with Art Carney returning as Ed Norton.

There is probably a limited audience for a release like this. I think I’m more shocked that they released these four episodes together instead of just the Honeymooners sketches. For me this is because, while I know the guest stars, this kind of humor comes from a certain era. So you can prepare for a ton of racial humor that was deemed to be “appropriate” on CBS at the time. The guests aren’t bad (for the most part) but The Honeymooners sketches are the big treasure.

Beyond the stereotypical racial humor faking of Jews and Italians, the comedians sets are truly that tame kitchy stuff you expect on a late sixties variety show that features Milton Berle, Sgt Bilko’s Phil Silver, and Red Buttons (who appears in three of the episodes). The true standout is an appearance by George Carlin. Carlin looks about six years old and very weird in a suit, shirt, and tie – but I guess he wanted to look good for Jackie. Carlin appearance has some very muted humor, but I think this is the only time I’ve seen his comedy where it wasn’t a little dirty. So that was a cool surprise.

There’s only three new Honeymooners episodes as the fourth episode forwent the Honeymooners for a sketch with Gleason and Berle where Gleason sits in a massive baby’s high chair. I really can’t believe Gleason agreed to it but I guess he would have done anything for ratings. The best of The Honeymooners episodes is one where Ralph thinks he’s dying. Ralph is trying to think of how to tell Alice, Norton is trying to figure a way to get Ralph’s bowling shoes. It’s typical Honeymooners humor and I wouldn’t expect anything less.

The characters are noticeably older. The color is a huge contrast to the early black and white shows. Norton certainly isn’t that poor as he’s put on a few pounds as well. But all in all, being back in that little kitchen is fantastic. Really makes me want to go back and watch The Classic 39.

Overall the collection is decent. The comedy before The Honeymooners sketches are pretty bad (though it is fun to watch Gleason puffing away on cigarettes on the show), but The Honeymooners are still incredible. If you are a fan this new DVD is worth checking out.


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