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The Honeymooners: “Classic 39 Episodes” (Blu-ray Review)

the honeymooners whysoblu thumbSeeing as The Honeymooners was a show from the 50s, I was obviously not around when it first aired, but it is a show I hold in very high regard.  I used to watch and laugh loudly at old reruns of The Honeymooners with my father, when I was very young, and the show has continued to hold up over time.  This is a series that uses dialogue and great physical comedy to create classic comedy scenarios that have yet to feel dated.  While the show is obviously from a certain time, I think it holds up due to its simplicity and the universal nature of the humor, which is why I was very happy to revisit it on this wonderful Blu-ray set.

The Series:

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The premise is very simple, as it involves working class friends/spouses interacting within a Brooklyn apartment building.  We rarely leave the main set and even when we do, it is nothing all that elaborate.  The show instead relies on the talents of its cast.  Jackie Gleason is Ralph Kramden, a bus driver with dreams of being a rich man, which he generally attempts to accomplish through simple scheming that never really pans out.  He is married to Alice Kramden (Pert Kelton and later Audrey Meadows), who loves her husband, but is happy to show her sharp tongue, when it comes to countering Ralph’s insults.  Art Carney is Ed Norton, Ralph’s best friend; a good-natured guy, who usually follows along with Ralph’s schemes, but also tends to take sillier approaches to life.  Then there is Trixie Norton (Joyce Randolph), Ed’s wife and Alice’s best friend.  Together, this ensemble gets into a variety of mild adventures that are often hilarious.

I love The Honeymooners.  It is a great comedy series that is easy to sit back and enjoy.  Getting to see a good chunk of the series again, it brought me back to when I was young, but the nature of the series was not lost on me, now viewing it as an adult.  The fact is, the comedy holds up very well.  Sure it is a black & white television series and various aspects suggest what year this show came from, but the heart of the comedic material is funny in the same way that makes me continue to laugh at the antics of the Marx Brothers.

A key element is the ensemble.  Given that there was nothing all that exciting about the premise or the setting, the fact that not only Gleason, but Meadows and Carney are all so good together is what really makes this series work.  The dialogue is always funny, even when relying on Ralph putting up plenty of insults to others, because he gets stuff thrown right back at him.  We are at a point now where writing has become incredibly witty and biting at times, which is something I can really embrace, but The Honeymooners certainly has a way of bringing in sarcasm and still having it all feel well-spirited, which makes it easy for me to latch onto the cast delivering all of the lines.

The physical comedy is great too, as it relies on actors, who are being filmed in front of a live audience, hitting certain marks and performing in certain ways that enhance the comedy so much.  A classic skit involving Ed Norton addressing a ball, when showing Ralph how to golf, still has me cracking up when I see it.  Gleason’s size constantly plays a role in the series, but the way he conducts himself through scenes is pretty wonderful, given how it may seem like easy humor, but it still leads to big laughs.

All of these aspects were brought to the small screen in terrific fashion and I can clearly see why the show has maintained a certain legacy over the decades and into this new century.  I was exciting to revisit it and was very pleased to find myself laughing plenty.

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This 5-disc Blu-ray set contains all 39 Episodes of the series:

Disc One:

  • TV or Not TV
  • Funny Money
  • The Golfer
  • A Woman’s Work Is Never Done
  • A Matter of Life and Death
  • The Sleepwalker
  • Better Living Through TV
  • Pal o’Mine

Disc Two:

  • Brother Ralph
  • Hello, Mom
  • The Deciding Vote
  • Something Fishy
  • Twas the Night Before Christmas
  • The Man From Space
  • A Matter of Record
  • Oh My Aching Back

Disc Three:

  • The Baby Sitter
  • The $99,000 Answer
  • Ralph Kramden, Inc.
  • Young at Heart
  • A Dog’s Life
  • Here Comes the Bride
  • Mama Loves Mambo
  • Please Leave the Premises

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Disc Four:

  • Pardon My Glove
  • Young Man with a Horn
  • Head of the House
  • The Worry Wart
  • Trapped
  • The Loudspeaker
  • On Stage
  • Opportunity Knocks But
  • Unconventional Behavior

Disc Five:

  • The Safety Award
  • Mind Your Own Business
  • Alice and the Blonde
  • The Bensomhust Bomber
  • Dial J For Janitor
  • A Man’s Pride

Video:

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Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution:  1080p

Aspect Ratio:  1.33:1

Clarity/Detail:  Detailing is superb here.  For a show that is so old and from TV, this Blu-ray set has done a great job of adapting and preserving the look of the series.  You can see the little aesthetics that make up the setting, while also appreciating how clear the series looks overall.

Depth:  For being a show that has character moving back and forth through minimal locations, the level of depth never feels shallow.  It is appropriate for what we are seeing.

Black Levels:  Black levels are deep in a satisfying way.  On a general level, while effects of shading is sometimes noticeable, the quality of this aspect works, again, given the age of the series.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones:  There is plenty to admire in the solid facial textures on display here.  Everyone is cleanly presented on these Blu-ray discs.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some of the earlier episodes have some minor elements, such as specks and some lighting issues, but nothing that really significantly effects what is on display.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English Mono 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  There is only so much to take in from this series, from an audio perspective, but it mainly amounts to the dialogue and the live audience.  With that said, this lossless track does a good job of performing.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not much to take away from here, though the opening theme adds a bit of punch.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The simple nature of the track does not allow for much, as it is pretty centrally focused.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Everyone speaking is loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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A number of neat features here, though I still wish there was more to go with what could have been a definitive set.

Features Include:

Disc One

    • Promos – Promotional clips

Disc Two

    • “Best Buick Yet” Dealer Presentation – The main cast pitches Buick cars.

Disc Three

    • 60 Minutes’ Jackie Gleason Profile (10/28/84) – An in-depth interview.
    • 60 Minutes’ Jackie Gleason Profile Outtakes – Over 20 minutes of additional footage.

Disc Five

    • American Scene Magazine: The Adoption – An episode from The Jackie Gleason American Scene Magazine, originally aired 3/26/1955.
    • 35th Anniversary Special – Hosted by Audrey Meadows, about 20 minutes long.
    • 50th Anniversary Special – Hosted by Kevin James with a lot of celebrity guest interviews, about 40 minutes long.
    • “Person to Person” Segment featuring Jackie Gleason (2/3/56)

Summary: the honeymooners whysoblu 6

The Honeymooners was a great series that continues to deliver the laughs today.  Anyone that used to love this show should pick up this set.  Anyone curious about it should definitely check it out and see how it influenced many comedy series since.  The Blu-ray is a nice package, with surprisingly great video quality and a neat assortment of special features to dig into.  Head straight to the moon (or Amazon) and pick up this set.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “The Honeymooners: “Classic 39 Episodes” (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Eric Flapjack Ashley

    I absolutely love this show and I’m saving up to buy this set. I’m constantly surprised at how good Black and White can look in high definition if done correctly. I still watch my DVDs of these as well as the “lost episodes”.

    I’m disappointed that the 35th Anniversary Special is the same edit from the DVD set and not the entire original broadcast from CBS. But that commercial will be great to see.