328 of 333 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2011
Restored? Well, not entirely. Nevertheless, a great effort was made to create a worthy boxed set of Honeymooners material and this deserves a top rating. This is the most complete 'Lost Episodes' collection ever (and perhaps to ever be) offered. Of course, the series itself is not complete without the 'Classic 39' (available separately), but for all else classic black and white Honeymooners, this is it.
Let's start from the beginning ...
This set includes the first Honeymooners skit (without Audrey Meadows, but with Art Carney as a police officer) from 5 October, 1951. As a nice added touch, the original host introduction precedes it. From this and other early skits, we witness the initial incarnations of some of television's most famous lines of dialog. "Don't steam me Alice" was there from the beginning, but "'cause I'm already steamed" would only be added in later routines. "One of these days Alice" was also not yet accompanied by "Pow! Right in the kisser". The earliest surviving Joyce Randolph appearance (as Trixie) is in The Ring Salesman from 7 December 1951. The earliest surviving Audrey Meadows (as Alice) can be found in The New Bowling Ball from 20 September 1952. Both are included in this impressive set. The kiss at the end was there from the start, but the true magic between actors was yet to take shape.
This collection was pieced together into an impressive 15-DVD set. And no double-sided discs, so that's a big plus. The booklet is nice and colorful, giving you a brief bio, basic information about the skits, and features some nice images. In fact, all skits appear to be listed, whether or not the films still exist. For what no longer exists (or otherwise could not be found), a chronological placement and identification is included in the list along with the episodes found on the respective discs of this collection.
The content is as good as you would hope, tracing Honeymooners back to the very beginning and garnishing it with several special features of which many had not been seen since their original airing decades ago. Beyond the obvious, you will find 1954 radio episodes, several interviews then and now, commercials, cast appearances on other shows, additional non-Gleason skits, and even Honeymooners scripts which were never filmed. And in the case of Stand-In for Murder, whose first airing had an aborted ending due to original TV time constraints, we not only get see a few added seconds not seen on reruns and an explanation (of sorts) from Jackie Gleason about the intended ending and why it wasn't performed, but you have the option of seeing a complete re-working of the skit shot the following week. This is a particular treat to see two versions of that particular skit.
The quality and restoration? Certainly not much can be expected from these early days of television, so one must look at the previously-available material and compare. From the previously unavailable works, some have audio anomalies such as a ringing noise and 'tin-can' sound. In many cases, the source is likely as good as it gets. In others, there are certainly some improvements, but they're not always welcome. At times, audio was de-hissed to the point where select spots are nearly lost and others are too loud. To give an example, the video on Lucky Number has been greatly improved; the image has been steadied and sharpened, the audio is louder and clearer, but for some reason it now has static.
The original Lost Episode collections were cheaply put together and disc space was not well utilized. Twenty-four (24) discs were needed to complete the original MPI Lost Episodes collection. Not the case with this new, 60th anniversary collection. Each disc is loaded with material. For example, the first disc includes nine (9) surviving Cavalcade of Stars (1951-52) Honeymooners skits and the first nine (9) from The Jackie Gleason Show (1952-53).
In total, there are 107 Honeymooners skits from various sources (1951-57) as well as dozens of other features both old and new. Many sketches and full length shows are seen for the first time in over 5 decades. As noted, everything outside of the 'Classic 39' filmed between 1951 and 1957 (which is known to exist) is included in this set. Interestingly, several of the missing skits are available here in alternate aired versions which utilized the same script. What you won't find is the premiere episode of Jackie Gleason: American Scene Magazine from 29 Sep, 1962 which features Gleason and Carney in an air raid shelter sketch entitled Two Below, a 10th anniversary Honeymooners special from another episode featuring Gleason and Carney revisiting their Dial J for Janitor sketch, and at least two others filmed in the early 1960s but believed lost forever. Of the 1951-57 period, 21 known sketches which are believed to no longer exist are noted in the booklet.
A nice little bonus which will likely be welcomed by all is that once you place a disc in your player, it almost immediately goes to the main menu and is ready to play. This feature was included in all but the first disc.
I used to watch Honeymooners every time I had a chance on NY's WPIX 11 back in the 1980s and 90s. First at 11pm, then 11:30, midnight, 12:30 and so on until it nearly disappeared except for the 24-hour marathons a couple of times a year. I copied and collected episodes from TV and enjoyed them until I was able to get the original 'Lost Episodes' on VHS, then DVD, and eventually, the 'Classic 39' on DVD as well. I've viewed every skit from those sets many times over and memorized most of the dialog. I was excited to hear about this 60th anniversary set but was skeptical about the level of restoration. Though the improvements are not always obvious, the clear improvement for me is in the sheer breadth of this collection. A welcome improvement to previous collections and so much more to enjoy and learn to love. Perhaps there are some new favorite moments to experience. No matter what, this is an impressive set and a worthy purchase for any and all interested in early television, Gleason, Carney, Meadows, Randolph, and of course, The Honeymooners.
I realize this was a rather long review, so I thank you kindly for reading.
91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
I have watched just part of Disc 14 - enough information for this fan (who watched the Honeymooners on first telecasts in the 1950s) to give the package a *****.
I find that the June 1, 1957 sketch, Manager of a Baseball Team, looks beautiful for a kinescope...but besides the surprisingly good audio-video, we finally, finally have the final sketch from the '50s! (Needless to say, this episode was listed on three earlier packages which contained a *1953* rendition!).
I would have paid the full price for that historic episode on its' own, so my effusiveness can be understood!
There is very little material missing here...and both listed and nonlisted items are carefully notated. Hopefully, the apparent next-to-last sketch of May 11th, 1957 will be soon issued.
Another two sketches are not included: two 1962 efforts, from the American Scene Magazine, Gleason's return to weekly variety. Carney was back...but no Meadows or Randolph. This, plus the excellent 1966 remake of The Adoption, with Carney and Meadows.
For relatively new fans, I'll say that, generally speaking, you will not find "Classic 39" quality throughout any entry here - that season was done live on film, which benefitted the actors who could err and not worry that the error will be beamed out to the cosmos; the naturally, the writing and editing was exceptional. There are, shall we say, Classic *sketches* in this collection: i.e., Stars Over Flatbush, Peacemaker, Kramden vs. Norton, One Big Happy Family, Finders Keepers, Boys And Girls Together, etc.)
Also found herein is a new interview with Joyce Randolph (Trixie, 1952 to 1957); and old interviews with her TV "husband", Art Carney, in character, in various settings, including The Ed Sullivan Show.
Another featured extra is a group of Ed Norton "Interviews" from that final season. Gleason interviews Norton on current events, the most interesting the announced move by the Brooklyn Dodgers that they will soon be playing three-thousand miles away! The jokes are only mildly mildly funny but the full melancholy of the sports scenario hits a little closer to home: soon the Chauncey Street quartet will be joining the Ebbets Field, "Sym-Phony", as depressingly conspicuous by their absence, as well - Ralph, Alice, Norton, and Trixie would not return until 1962.
Ellen Burstyn fans, look out!! She's show briefly in the '57 shows as a "Glea Girl"!
All political correctness aside, or should I say generational stereotyping aside, this show offered more than just laughs. We can watch a very underappreciated actor, Jackie Gleason, emote, and make the Charlie Sheens (all due respect) drop their heads. Yes, it sounds corny, but this show had "heart". Alice Kramden may have beeen the first TV feminist but her exasperation was couched in true love, respect, and understanding of her blue-collar guy. No effort, as today, to turn the tables on the dude who just doesn't get it.
So, take a row seat near the front, look at the drivers' rear view mirror, and let this collection, in tandem with The Classic 39 set (also on Amazon), take you right to the Moon!!!
109 of 120 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2011
This box-set will include:
15 DVD set of the complete existing collection of all HONEYMOONERS skits produced from 1951-1957
Approximately 50 hours of material, including over 10 hours of HONEYMOONERS productions not seen since the 1950s
First-time-ever home video release of the 8 sought-after 1957 HONEYMOONERS musical hours not seen anywhere in over 5 decades
First-time-ever home video release of half-a-dozen other HONEYMOONERS skits from The Jackie Gleason Show recently found in the vaults.
First-time-ever DVD appearance of 8 surviving HONEYMOONERS skits from the 1951-1952 Cavalcade of Stars variety show.
Digitally restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive
Deluxe 42 page booklet with full HONEYMOONERS history and rare photos, compiled by Honeymooners expert Robert Bader.
One of television's most influential and beloved comedy programs, THE HONEYMOONERS first appeared in 1951 as a series of skits on television's "Cavalcade of Stars" before comic great Jackie Gleason was given his own program a year later. From 1952-1955 and 1956-1957, "The Jackie Gleason Show" featured dozens of classic HONEYMOONERS productions broadcast live nationwide on CBS-TV, airing only once. For decades, these early HONEYMOONERS telecasts were lost until Jackie Gleason began releasing them from his private film vault.
Now, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the very first HONEYMOONERS skits, MPI Home Video and Jackie Gleason Enterprises present the most complete collection possible of these rare gems, many of which have not been seen anywhere in 50 years or available previously on DVD. It's a treasure trove of the hilarious antics of hapless Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), his long-suffering but loving wife Alice (Audrey Meadows), Ralph's neighbor and pal, sewer worker Ed Norton (Art Carney) and Norton's wife Trixie (Joyce Randolph). This is a must-have collection for any fan of classic television comedy which appeals to laugh-loving viewers of all ages.
MPI Home Video has announced that on October 4th they will release The Honeymooners Lost Episodes: The Complete Restored Series on DVD. This package includes Behind the Scenes bonus material, Featurettes, Interviews, Commercials, and Skits.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2011
This is perhaps one of the greatest box sets ever released. All known surviving segments done live on "The Cavalcade of Stars" and "The Jackie Gleason Show" from 1951 to 1957 are presented here for Honeymooners fanatics like me. The quality of the kinescopes used on this set are pretty good. I also enjoyed finally seeing host announcer Jack Lescoulie get some screen time on this set, but too brief in my humble opinion. I have enjoyed reading most of the positive reviews written by people on Amazon but most of them really don't talk too much about the famed original "Trip To Europe" musical episodes done by Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph. Comparing the original 1957 version to the 1966 version is like comparing apples to oranges, but if forced to tell everyone which version I like I'll go with the original 1957 version. First, the 1957 version was done after the original cast have been together for nearly 5 years. All knew their characters quite well and played them to perfection. Unfortunately Shelia MacRae and Jane Kean, who played Alice and Trixie in the 1960's remakes, were forced to play their characters for the the first time with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney in the remade 1966 version. Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean would eventually make their new roles as Alice and Trixie their own, but not at this point. Art Carney was at his creative peak playing Ed Norton in 1957. He had already won the Emmy 5 times and would later prove to everybody what a great character actor he was on various television shows in the next few years. Unfortunately by the time Art Carney returned to "The Jackie Gleason Show" in 1966 he had put on some weight and suffered a nervous breakdown. The fat jokes aren't as funny told by a fatter Art Carney to the more relaxed Jackie Gleason who seemed to love his lifestyle down in Florida better than New York. After completing the musical episodes in 1957, the original cast would only do 2 more skits (unfortunately only 1 survives) before ending it's 1950's run. I noticed that some of the original Lyn Duddy and Jerry Bresler songs were dropped in "Curse of the Kramdens" and "Framed In Spain" episodes and new ones were written in their place. "Hospitality" and "You Mustn't Judge A Book By It's Cover"(done in 1966) replaced "A Kramden Through and Through" and "Anything That You Say Is True"(done in 1957). I thought Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows sang the original songs better even though the new ones are probably better written tunes. I didn't realize how good Audrey Meadows really sings until I saw these 1957 shows. She and Jackie make quite a singing duo! What I can't understand is how these original "Trip To Europe" episodes took so long to get released. They are magical and should of gotten more acclaim back in the 1950's but unfortunately "The Jackie Gleason Show" was up against "The Perry Como Show" who got better ratings at the time. I hope one day MPI will release the famed "Adoption" musical episode that reunited Jackie Gleason with Art Carney, and Audrey Meadows in January 1966. This episode prompted Jackie Gleason to bring back "The Honeymooners" in the 1960's. I saw that episode at The Museum of Broadcasting a few years ago and it's the best "Honeymooners" episode ever. MPI please release that episode along with the 2 episodes done in 1962 with Sue Ann Langdon as Alice. This will please a very big "Honeymooners" fan.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2011
If you own the Classic 39 that was released a number of years ago and are a Honeymooners fan you'll want this collection. Many of the sketches have not been seen since they were originally broadcast or at least not since their original season when they may have been shown as reruns. The contents here are obscure and not quite up to the Classic 39's superior production values (shot on film vs. Kinescope), but true fans will enjoy watching the episodes and sketches, and owning this set in their collection. Warning, the concept of "complete" refers to and assumes you already owning the Classic 39. Those episodes are NOT included in this collection, so you do need both sets to have a full compilation of the Honeymooners. There are apparently several pieces that are indeed lost. The creators of this set put considerable effort into finding everything shot of Ralph, Alice and the Norton's, but there are a few pieces or segments that are simply gone. Perhaps they will surface someday in someone's attic or private collection, but until then this closes out the genre on DVD. I definitely recommend this set but only for true fans. The casual fan of the Classic 39 will not appreciate this set and probably won't watch much of it. For those fans purchase the Classic 39 which I believe remains available on Amazon. The Honeymooners was landmark television for anyone who lived through the 50's and of course all the decades of syndicating the Classic 39 that followed. I believe there are some places where it's still shown even today. By the way, during syndication the Classic 39 were irreverently chopped up to create room for adding many more commercials than what was the norm when they were originally created, so when you get and watch that set it's like seeing those episodes anew with restoration of a good five minutes of long-edited out content.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2011
Wish I had this set 25 years ago when I was a grade school-er, a member of R.A.L.P.H.(Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners) and re-read Donna McCrohan's books until the covers literally came off.
Minor issues aside, this excellent box set represents what is a "Holy Grail" type collection for Honeymooners fans.
Here's hoping if any more material not known to be extant surfaces MPI releases them as single disc addendum's to this Grade A release.
Please note - if you want your video to look pristine and modern this is simply not the set for you. For better or worse nearly all the material in this collection now looks as good as it ever will. It's all that exists - is what it is in effect. Unlike film, kinescope material will not look better in Blu-ray, in fact it could even look worse. Now the filmed "original 39" on Blu-ray someday, well that's a whole other story. EDIT: The Blu-ray of the original 39 has been available for few months overall they look incredible. Along with Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy season one, and the Dick Van Dyke show the Image Honeymooners Blu-ray's in terms of natural life like video quality and detail are the elite of TV in that format.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
As far as I'm concerned this is the DEFINITIVE Lost Episodes Collection!!! I previously shelled out BIG BUCKS for MPI's 6 individual Boxed Set releases of Lost Episodes as soon as I learned they went "OUT-OF-PRINT"...and although I enjoyed those very much...as a long time HONEYMOONER fan I longed for a more "COMPLETE" collection of "Lost Episodes". As soon as this 60TH ANNIVERSARY COMPLETE RESTORED SERIES was announced...I began saving my nickels & dimes so that I could buy it on the day of release!!! THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS. MPI has gone out of its way to preserve these LOST GEMS for future generations of HONEYMOONERS fans...This set is AS COMPLETE as it possibly could be. The 60th Anniversary collection contains ALL 107 of the "live" Honeymooners broadcasts known to survive - including 30 that are new to DVD and 18 that have NOT been seen since their original broadcasts over 50 years ago! There are 48 sketches and 59 full-length shows collected here. Six CBS sketches remain LOST: "Sprained Thumb"(10/4/52), "The Missing Pair of Pants"(12/6/52), "Easter Hats"(4/4/53), "Alice's Birthday"(5/16/53), "Halloween Party"(10/30/54) & "Six Months to Live"(4/11/57)...In addition 15 known Dumont sketches also remain LOST: "Supermarket Shopping/Alice's Anniversary"(10/19/51), "Alice's Sister Argues with her Husband"(1/4/52), "Alice Finds a Dog"(2/1/52), "Cold"(2/8/52), "Surprise Party"(4/4/52), "Easter Hats"(4/11/52), "Manager of the Baseball Team"(5/16/52), "Vacation Plans/Vacation at Fred's Landing"(5/30/52), "Bus Drivers Frolics/Alice Plays the Trombone", "The Driving Lesson", "The Expectant Father/Alice Knitting Sweater for Dog", "The Home Run Ball", "Meat Substitute", "The Mystery Novel", & "Spring Cleaning"...Despite these precious gems being LOST to the annals of time...some survive in later versions re-performed on "The Jackie Gleason Show" and are preserved & collected in this AWESOME Set, while 3 of the missing CBS sketches - "Sprained Thumb", "Halloween Party", & "Six Months to Live" also survive and appear in this collection in earlier or subsequent performances. Also included is an entire DVD of Bonus Material including 2 never before released Honeymooners Lost RADIO episodes "Letter to the Boss"/"Love Letter", Scripts for the Missing Episodes "Easter Hats"/"Alice's Birthday"/"The Missing Pair of Pants", as well as 2 new Featurettes (The Lost Episodes Story w/ Television Historian Dan Wingate & All About Trixie: The Joyce Randolph Interview...plus several additional Sketches/Commercials/Interviews...NOT TO MENTION A VERY WELL WRITTEN BOOKLET FROM MPI DETAILING THE HISTORY OF THE LOST HONEYMOONERS EPISODES!!! ALSO, DID I NEGLECT TO MENTION THAT THE EPISODES IN THIS SET ARE PRESENTED FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME (to my knowledge) IN THEIR ORIGINAL BROADCAST ORDER!!! Very NEAT to see the evolution of the Cast and Characters into the iconic team we've all come to know and love throughout the years :) IN ORDER TO ASSEMBLE THIS MIGHTY SET...MPI HAS SPARED NO EXPENSE...INCLUDING HAVING THE MATERIAL COMPILED & RESTORED BY THE UCLA FILM & TELEVISION ARCHIVE...that being said, if your looking for PRISTINE BLU-RAY quality prints...look elsewhere...for we're talking about "LIVE" broadcasts from the golden age of television that in all honesty should not even exist were it not for "kinescopes" that were filmed off a live television monitor for airing in a different time zone!!! That said I can tell that they were lovingly restored as much as they could be compared to the previous boxed set releases...SO IF YOU ARE A "TRUE" HONEYMOONERS OR JACKIE GLEASON FAN...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR...PICK UP THIS "DEFINITIVE" 60TH ANNIVERSARY SET WHILE YOU STILL CAN...ITS AS GOOD AS IT GETS GANG...NO DEFINITIVE BLU-RAY HI-DEF EDITION WILL EVER BE RELEASED FOR THIS RARE/SCARCE B&W MATERIAL...I ASSURE YOU!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
This collection of Honeymooners lost episodes is incredible. Despite what people say, these films HAVE BEEN RESTORED the best possible. These films were recorded on an early TV archiving process known as "Kinescope" recording. The broadcast was live, the recordings were made by a special 16mm camera that actually photograpged what was on the TV Screen in front of it, thus, the quality would vary as early televisons were not as sharp as they are today. These films were recorderd for archive purposes and were never intened to be aired again. Thank goodness we are able to see these classics that otherwise would have been lost forever. These films are a real treasure!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
My heartfelt thanks to those responsible for creating this wonderful DVD collection. You have no idea how much this means to me. Viewing these DVD's brought back a flood of memories (and a few tears). I would have gladly paid 10 times the asking price.
Believe it or not both sides of our family have had personal interactions with Jackie Gleason. My dad worked at the Park Sheraton hotel for many years and used to run into Jackie all the time. He described Jackie as a regular guy who didn't let his fame spoil him. A real gentleman who treated everyone with respect.
My wife's grandfather was a tailor and Jackie was a regular customer (as was Tony Randall). He made a number of custom suits for Jackie.
The amount of material included in this set is breathtaking! I've been hoping for decades for a collection like this and now it's finally here. What a treat to see the very first Honeymooners sketch! And how about the musicals and all that bonus material?
This collection is the pinnacle of The Golden Age Of Television. You will not find anything better or more complete. Thanks again to all who participated in it's release.
I would like to see the uncut Jackie Gleason Show from Miami as well as the American Scene Magazine show released ASAP. You make it and I will buy it. Hey everyone, contact MPI and ask for these shows to be released!
Jackie Gleason was, is and always will be The Great One!
Now I'm going to fire up the Delorean, go back to 1951, drink some REAL Coca-Cola and watch the greatest shows on TV. See you there.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2013
These shows are great. The comedy is well written and ageless. It is stated as these episodes are "restored". I know the films are 60 years old but I think they could have done a better job at restoring the quality of the picture and sound.
How can I say this? These lost episodes are also aired on channel 20 in Phoenix. We have watched them on television and I think the picture and sound quality of the episodes on television is better than the so called "remastered" DVD's.
But, all in all, the DVD's allow you to enjoy the shows time after time.