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The Color Honeymooners - Collection 1

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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(Jun 27, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Join The Honeymooners as they take their famous 'Trip to Europe'... and this time they travel in color. Originally performed during the 1956-1957 season over eight shows, their journey now is introduced by the 1954 'Box Top Kid' sketch, revamped as the new 'In 25 Words or Less' in which Ralph and Ed win their trip. The Jackie Gleason Show kicked off the 1966-1967 season by bringing back The Honeymooners, but with a few changes: the show was in color, musical performances were added and, in addition to Art Carney returning as Ed Norton, Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean joined the cast as Alice and Trixie. The Color Honeymooners Collection 1 includes nine, one-hour episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show digitally re-mastered and unedited. Included are Gleason's glamorous Glea Girls, The June Taylor Dancers, Sammy Spear &His Orchestra and announcer Johnny Olson.


In 1966, Jackie Gleason's television variety show added a new hour-long sketch that reintroduced audiences to one of America's favorite families--the Kramdens and their neighbors the Nortons, whom Gleason immortalized as The Honeymooners in the 1950s, first on his variety series, and as its own program. For this all-color incarnation, Gleason reunited with Art Carney as pal Ed Norton, while Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean were the new Alice and Trixie, respectively. The Color Honeymooners also added musical numbers to the sketches, but aside from these new features, it was the same old Honeymooners, as seen in this four-disc set, which preserves the nine-episode "Trip to Europe" story arc. It's actually a revised version of the "Box Top Kid" sketch from The Jackie Gleason Show circa '56-57, which finds Ralph consumed with contest fever after his brother-in-law wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe through a write-in contest. After Norton pens a slogan for Flakey Wakey, Ralph is granted first prize--but must first prove that he's lost weight from eating the product. This spins into an eight-part story which takes the Kramdens and Nortons to Europe, where they cause havoc in the great cities of the Continent, as well as on an African safari. The sketches are balanced out by a number of musical bits, including performances by the June Taylor Dancers, the Glea Girls, and other regulars and guests.

The real question for Honeymooners fans is: do the color episodes hold up when compared to the originals? And the answer is, in a way, no: Gleason and Carney are older and a bit slower in regard to timing and performance, and MacRae and Kean, while pleasant, can't touch Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph as Alice and Trixie. And the musical and production numbers, while eye-catching, weigh down the humor at the core of the sketches. But there's still plenty of chemistry between Gleason and Carney in their best-loved roles, and if you're a die-hard Honeymooners/Gleason fan, you'll probably want to add these episodes to your collection. The four-disc set includes all nine unedited episodes from the story arc, as well as the featurette "The Great Gleason Express," which chronicles the star's process of moving his show from New York to Miami Beach ("the sun and fun capital of the world," lest you've forgotten) via a lavish train, with plenty of stops along the way to cater to his fans. The featurette is rounded out by an interview with Gleason's widow, Marilyn Taylor Gleason. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

  • "The Great Gleason Express" featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Jackie Gleason, Johnny Olson, The June Taylor Dancers, Sammy Spear and His Orchestra, Art Carney
  • Writers: Buddy Arnold, Cully Richards, Keith Fowler, Snag Werris, Tom Tenowich
  • Producers: Jackie Gleason
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Mpi Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EXZFR6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,928 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Color Honeymooners - Collection 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Yes,MPI has finally started its' release of the Jackie Gleason Show.This set gleans its' material from the 1966-70 series which was filmed in colour.It contains the "Trip To Europe" series first done back in the late 50s.It's an updated and I think just as good version as its' black and white counterpart.

This was the first(Gleason) show series to be shot in colour and Gleason certainly makes effective use of the medium as is evidenced by the myriad of coulourful costumes worn by both cast and crew.

Now before I go any further I think for the sake of those that have read the above "review" by Mr.Gaita I should clarify two essential points.

Firstly is that this set is a three disc set,with nine episodes.

Secondly these are NOT hour long sketches nor are the entire shows one sees here an hour long.Indeed no Honeymooners sketch in any Gleason show(excluding specials of course) were ever one hour in length.The running time of these shows range anywhere from 46-49 minutes...in total.

What has happened is,for whatever reason,MPI has CUT Gleasons' entire opening monologue sequence.What we get is everything AFTER that,i.e. the Honeymooners sketch and,if time permitted because sometimes it didn't,Gleasons' closing words,thank you to the audience and introduction of the cast.The cutting of the opening is certainly not a make or break situation but it is VERY disappointing and the big reason I gave this set a star less than it should get.

With that aside let's get back to the review.I must say that I never saw any of Gleasons shows in colour because I simply didn't own a colour set until years later.Only the more financially well to do in my neighbourhood had colour sets and those I did see sported this terrible reddish-greenish blury picture.
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As noted in the Amazon.com synopsis, these are segments from Jackie Gleason's CBS variety show in 1966. They are hour-long, musical (!) "Honeymooners" segments in which the Kramdens and the Nortons travel to Europe and have various adventures.

While I enjoyed these episodes and am glad I have more "Honeymooners" in my DVD collection, I nevertheless get the impression that this is where Gleason's comedic style, as with Lucille Ball's in the 1960's, started to calcify. The black-and-white "Honeymooners" seems more "authentic," if you will -- you really get the sense that this is a couple barely making ends meet. By contrast, in the color eps, you can see Gleason and Carney really playing to the crowd. Every time a familiar bit of shtick comes, the audience goes crazy -- a precursor of the whooping and hollering yahoos you hear on live-audience sitcoms these days.

And in the B&W eps, Gleason is far more believable as a pale, manic, barely-getting-by bus-driver. It's kind of hard to identify with the Kramdens when each episode begins with a splashy production number, and once-pale Ralph sports a Miami tan.

Lastly, some of the writing is a bit open-ended, such as the episode where Kramden and Norton are stranded at sea. (Spoiler alert here.) In one scene, they're in a lifeboat; in the next and final scene, there's a quick wrap-up where their rescue is barely mentioned. They get all sorts of press coverage for their Flakey Wakey trip and hardly anyone even notices a rescue at sea?

This is nit-picking, I know, and again, I am glad to have the DVD. Still, some of these sore points tend to stick out. If you're enough of a "Honeymooners" fan, though, you'll probably overlook these problems.

Video quality is excellent.
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Being born in 1964, some of my earliest memories of watching television was of hearing the announcer yell MIAMI BEACH while watching the rapid close-up of the city appear on the scereen and of the closing of this show with the little caricature of JG in his "Away we go" stance at the end of the credits.

So for me and a lot of other small children in the late 60s, THIS is the Jackie Gleason Show that we remember.

Now of course fans of the original 1950s Honeymooners may coomplain about the comparison, but having seen this for the first time since I was a small child, nostalgia aisde it's really good on it's own. Art Carney and JG are in fine form and the later actresses who play Alice and Trixie (who were actually the third to do so) do a pretty good imitation of Joyce Randolph and Audrey Meadows. It does help to avoid any memory or comparison to the 50s episodes to fully enjoy this.

The musical numbers are a tad cornball by modern standards, but interesting as a time capsule of what variety shows were like in the 60s. Look carefully and you'll see Mercedes Ellignton (Graddaughter of the legendary Duke Ellington) among the dancers.

So on it's own, it IS pretty entertaining. Incidentally, the liner notes promise a DVD of the "Jackie Gleason Show" (sans Honeymooners) also from MPI in the near future. Ooh Goody good good (as JG would say). Modern viewers will see JG in FULL form with Crazy Guggenheim, The Poor Soul, Reggie Van Gleason, and Timmie "Oh Yeah" Rogers (a pioneering Black comedian). So look out for that and enjoy this in the meantime.
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