One would be led to think this ‘last’ installment of the ‘Color Honeymooners’ gave us the complete later Honeymooners on dvd. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the dvd companies are thinking for us. They know which episodes we wish to see and what we want left out! There are enough still-unreleased episodes to make another set and lets hope they do just that. For the record- here’s what’s missing: “Life Upon The Wicked Stage”-2/11/67… “6 Months To Live”-11/23/68…”Alice’s Birthday”-12/7/68…”Lawsuit”-1/4/69…”Hot Tip”-2/8/69…”New Bowling Ball”3/22/69…”Norton Moves In”-4/5/69…”The New Manager”-4/19/69…”The Incredible World Of Ed Norton”-1/19/70.
The Honeymooner’s were always a riot – The Color Honeymooner’s are no exception … and these episodes should not be left out. You are dealing with Gleason-Carney fanatics out here, PLEASE don’t decide for us what we want to see. This honeymoon is not over, COMPLETE THE RIOT.
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Volume Four of “The Colour Honeymooners” is a dan-dan-dandy of a closing for the series.
All final twelve eps are here from Set.27/69 to Feb.28/70(regardless of the misprint on the inside sleeve that says Feb28/69!).There are two things that stand out immediately with these eps.First is The Great Ones’ weight loss.He had been up around 290 lbs.,now he was down to about 220 lbs.,a laudable achievement.He would drop down a further 15 or more lbs.in the unsuing years.
The second thing that hits you is the plethora of guest stars appearing on these shows.Milton Berle,Joey Heatherton,Paul Lynde,Donald O’Connor,Mike Douglas,Bing Crosby and many well known character actors.Great to see and hear these stars once again.
As always this show was filmed live on a Friday night at the Miami Beach Colliseum for airing the next night.There were no laugh tracks as all reactions were genuine.And Gleason would rarely allow re-takes or stoppages in the filming.In fact for the auditorium audience it was a non stop show.In between scenes/costume changes,others acts would take the stage to entertain them,so it was truly constant fun in the sun for them.There was however a very unexpected stoppage in the filming.During the second to last ep”We’re off to see the Wizard”,I noticed that while singing one of their numbers that Gleason was stumbling a little more than usual with the lyrics;he was distracted for some reason.At the end of the show we are told the reason why by Gleason himself.It seems someone had come up on stage during filming and all proceedings came to a halt.The reason for the on stage intrusion is not told but Gleason you could tell was more than a little perturbed at it.It took alot to rattle the Great One,but this obviously had.
Another thing I noticed that was unsual for Jackie was that on more than one occasion during these shows you will see him lose his composure during a scene.This is especially evident during “Happiness is a Rich Uncle”.The actor that played Alices’ uncle was doing a great job.In fact he was playing it so over the top that as the camera was shifting from Gleason and Norton over to the uncle you can see Jackie laughing at him,obviously enjoying the performance as much as the audience.It is a priceless moment.Further,at the end of the show Jackie himself admits doing it at least twice during the performance,hoping”the camera didn’t pick it up”.It did and,as I say,it is priceless to see.
I also might mention that you will see while watching these shows the “times” creeping into the scripts more than ever.Womens Lib in “The Honeymoon is Over” and youth protests in “Operation Protest”.
As always the June Taylor dancers are absolutely fantastic.Their choreography is magnificent and it is a shining example of Gleasons’ penchant for hiring the best talent available.And as always with a live shoot and Gleasons’ penchant for continuing shooting,you will see little faux pauxs occuring with the dancers too,like missed turns or drops;and always the floor after their opening number is strewn with bits and pieces of fallen costumes.Lyn Duddy and Jerry Bresler continued their amazing work during the making and filming of all these shows.I can’t imagine having to come up with music and lyrics week in and week out and of the high caliber these two talented peoples’ songs were.Incredible.ANOTHER nod to Gleasons’ innate ability for picking the right people for the right job.
Johnny Olson of course was the announcer for the series,in short time to become immortalized as Bob Barkers’ announcer on “The Price is Right”.
The end of this series was pretty much the swan song of Jackie on television on a regular basis,except for the odd Honeymooners special,of which there is one included as an extra on this set along with an interview with Jane Kean.
Yes,1970 was a terrible year for television.Even though Jackies’ show was constantly high in the ratings,”demographics” was the buzz word now.The exces were now gearing programming to the up and coming generation now entering or about to enter the work force;completely ignoring the fact that the younger gen loved the Gleason shows as much as their parents did,if not more.Whenever Honeymooners were on reruns(the Classic 39),it was proven that it was the younger audiences (18-35)that were dutifully out there loving and watching the Kramden’s,more so than the older generation.So much for “demographics”.
Along with Gleason,the longest running western in tv history,Gunsmoke,and another long running stalwart Red Skelton,also got canned.In a short time Mr.Sunday night Ed Sullivan would see the chopping block too.No one took it as hard as Skelton who,in not a graceful mood,threatened to burn his entire output of shows and vowed to never have them shown again…which his estate so far has continued to do.A pity.
In closing I must say I got the biggest kick out of the this the last set of the Colour Honeymooners…
I’m surprised to not see more reviews and support for this, the Final installment of the now dubbed ‘Color Honeymooners’. As another reviewer pointed out, I too am enjoying this Volume more than the others, not sure why.
Disc 1 opens up with ‘the new Jackie Gleason’. Gleason is noted as saying he dropped some weight, 60 pounds, IMO that would be a conservative number, he looks fantastic. Not only does he look fantastic but there is more than just an added spring in his step, he is beaming most of the time. I doubt I’ve ever seen anyone smile so convincingly, he is truly at the top of his game.
The episodes once again feature many musical numbers, many even performed by the talent of the day and once gain I must say I have never enjoyed such performances until now. I have exactly FOUR dvd sets in my collection of the ‘musical variety’ all four of these. I’m just not partial to Broadway Theater-style music, despite that I must say the song lyrics are so clever you better NOT fast forward through them!!
I must also say the core cast by this point has the format down pat. Of coarse the Carney-Gleason One/Two punch has been cemented for many years, but I think even Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean as Alice and Trixie are finally feeling perfectly at home, sadly for them and us, this home would be broken shortly after. Still, while it lasted it was a fun ride and one I will taking again and again for many years to come.