'The Color Honeymooners Collection 3'
(Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / MPI Home Video)
Overview: 'The Color Honeymooners' (aka The Jackie Gleason Show) a top-rated comedy/variety program aired from the sun and fun capital of the world Miami Beach! on Saturday night from 1966-70 on CBS-TV. This long-running series marked the final weekly TV show for The Great One. Reprising their famous characters from The Honeymooners the cast was led by Jackie Gleason (Ralph Kramden) and Art Carney (Ed Norton). Newcomers Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean played long-suffering wives Alice and Trixie.
DVD Verdict: 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.
While I enjoyed these 3rd collection 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, but that's just me overly nit-picking; I know, ... again! But, I'm glad to have the DVD collection and anyway, any true "Honeymooners" fan will overlook these problems/flaws/points of view! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but does not come with any Special Features.