Featured TV on DVD Review: The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes
The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
The Honeymooners started as a series of sketches on Cavalcade of Stars before, eventually, becoming a TV series of their own. This series only lasted 39 episodes, now called the "Classic 39". While it didn't last long, it is still considered one of the best TV series of all time and went on to inspire such hits as The Flintstones, Roseanne, and pretty much every other working class family sitcom made since then. It is a classic and it is worth owning, there's no doubt about that. However, it has already been released on DVD, so the real question is whether or not the Blu-ray is worth picking up.
Like I said, it is a classic and worth owning, so there's little need to spend time on the show itself. I'm more concerned with whether or not the Blu-ray is worth the upgrade. Because of this, I'll keep this segment short.
Jackie Gleason plays Ralph Kramden, a working class bus driver married to Alice (Audrey Meadows) who is the level-headed one in this relationship. Ralph will get crazy ideas, usually involving money, and Alice will have to be the one to talk him down. Their upstairs neighbors are Ed Norton (Art Carney) and Trix (Joyce Randolph) and the four are also close friends. Ralph and Ed are members of the Loyal Order of Raccoon Lodge, which plays into some of the episodes here. We also see episodes with the family, specifically Ralph's mother-in-law. There are no bad episodes for the show's entire run, while several are classics within the Sitcom genre.
There are extras throughout on the five-disc set. There are only two extras on Disc One. The Golfer includes original sponsor materials, while there are also two short promos for the show. If you don't think the studio did an amazing job with the show's technical presentation, you just need to watch these promos to see a comparison. Over on Disc Two there's original sponsor materials for Hello, Mom and a 21-minute audio promo for the 1956 Buick with Jackie Gleason and the rest of the cast. Disc three has original sponsors material for four more episodes. There are also two segments from the 1984 episode of 60 Minutes featuring Jackie Gleason. The first is from the original episode, while the second is 23 minutes of additional stories. Disc four has original sponsors material for four more episodes. Finally, Disc Five has original sponsors material for two more episodes, plus a number of other extras. These extras start with The Adoption, a musical comedy version of The Honeymooners, which was originally an hour-long special in 1966. There is also the 35th Anniversary Special and the 50th Anniversary Special. Finally, there is a segment from Person to Person with Jackie Gleason interviewing a real life bus driver.
The technical presentation is excellent, all things considered. Remember, the show is nearly 60 years old and no amount of remastering is going to improve the image beyond the original limitations. There's grain here, but not so much it is distracting. The details were better than I was expecting and the contrast is very strong. That said... 60 years old. It doesn't look good compared to TV shows made today. Likewise, the audio is good, but not great. It is only a 2.0 track, so there's no activity in the surround sound speakers. The dialogue is clear, for the most part. Sometimes it feels a little flat, but never enough to be a distraction.
As for the price, the list price of $130 and a discounted price of $75 on Amazon.com. Now you guys know how Star Trek fans feel.
The Honeymooners is a fantastic show and the "Classic 39" Episodes is worth owning. The Blu-ray is as good as it is going to get. The lack of new extras and the price are a little concerning, on the other hand.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-05-03