Let me preface this review by stating that I am a hardcore “The Honeymooners” fan.
Growing up I lived with a mother and father who ate, slept and breathed Ralph and Ed Norton’s antics, did nothing but quote the series over and over (“Roll that around your mouth!”), and as a plus, my dad’s threats to us as kids were always greeted with the preamble: “Remember: the life you save, may be your own.”
Growing up, I learned to absolutely love every inch of “The Honeymooners” (save for the lost episodes that stunk like a rotten lizard) and subsequent my purchase of the “Classic 39” on DVD, I made it a ritual of watching it every six months non-stop. I’ve held true to this tradition since. It’s a bond I share with my parents that not even mild fans of the show really understand, but lo and behold Jackie Gleason’s stint as a poor man trying to find that one lightning bolt to propel him in to wealth is a premise that’s always reflected the stance of the impoverished and the working class.
Gleason’s poor man is still the quintessential poor man to this day; that’s why it pains me to say that “The Color Honeymooners” is entertaining when it wants to be, but just not very good most of the time. Gleason feels like someone who just felt he had to shoehorn the “Honeymooners” in the act once again to lure in viewers, and the DVD set just misleads the viewer in to buying that the set is all about the “Color Honeymooners.” In fact it’s only a small part of the bigger picture that includes “The New Jackie Gleason Show” a series that feels strangely like “The Carol Burnett Show” with lavish musical numbers, guest spots by everyone from Paul Lynde to Joey Heatherton, and a monologue from Gleason at the start of every episode.
Sadly, the skits with the guest stars are barely watchable as they’re there mainly to remind us why they’re famous and act as segues for the sketches. This brings us in to “The Honeymooners” where Gleason and Carney can barely keep the same energy they possessed so many years before. The “Color Honeymooners” just feels like a fan tribute rather than Gleason reclaiming Kramden.
The sketches are drawn out and pretty stale especially when it often feels like Alice and Trixie are Metropolitan feminists coming in to the seventies, while Kramden and Norton often seem anachronistic. It’s just really Gleason at the end of a truly brilliant career, and in spite of my best efforts, I just couldn’t find the laughs here. The DVD features recollections from Jane Kean who discusses her life in show business and as Trixie, while we’re given the 1973 reunion sketch which includes raunchy humor that just doesn’t feel fitted to the sketch.
This is good for a scoff, but I think consumers are better off buying the “Classic 39” and reliving what was possibly the greatest sitcom ever made. This, however, is best left for die hard fans of the series.
Gotta stop buying these cheap matches!