MPI video continues its' release of the Honeymooners sketches from the Jackie Gleason Shows of the latter /60s.There are 12 eps in this release spanning from Sept.9/67 to Oct.26/68.
Each Honeymooners sketch is pure delight.Jackie Gleason and Art Carney and their "new" on-camera spouses Sheila Macrae(as Alice) and Jane Kean( as Trixie) continue to add to the fun and frivolity with their special talents,all filmed before a live audience in Miami Beach.These shows were aired nationally on Saturday nights but were shot the previous evening.This gave them time to tweak the show for any over-time,throw in extra camera shots where needed,etc,etc.
I only have one negative I think you should be made aware of.I was a little disturbed while watching the four eps on the first disc.All of them, to some degree or other,have videotape anomalies such as dirt and stationary crease lines running periodically throughout;much rougher looking than I've encountered on previous releases.The rest of the eps on the other discs(coincidentally or not) are fine and have few such visible problems and are in keeping with the standards of the previous set releases.An FYI.
These Honeymonners,like those released before, are all musical in nature.So every ep here contains four to five musical numbers performed throughout by various cast members,generally with one or more singing partners.The music is brilliantly written by Lyn Duddy and Jerry Bressler and with great backing by Sammy Spear and his Orchestra ,it was a match made in musical heaven.Also there to dazzle you are the wonderful June Taylor dancers.I appreciate the work of June and her talented troupe even more now than I did back in the 60s when I first saw these shows in their entirety.The work,precision and professionalism from these guys and gals is astounding.Look closely and see if you can spot June herself dancing with her team!
Along with the belly laughs supplied in spades by the cast you will notice in these shows,more than the previous ones,several gaffs and some ad-libs;especially from Gleason and Carney.Being the pros they are they recover quickly but it's precious to catch these quick little faux pauxs.And speaking of precious moments,keep an eye out at the end of an ep on the first disc where Jackie introduces the cast.When the first person called,Jane Kean,comes out she rushes head long at Jackie holding his "coffee" cup.She bumps him a little harder than he expects and a bit of the contents of the cup spills.Jackie gives her a sly glance and shake of his head as she leaves,smiles at the audience and sips the spillings from the saucer.It's a pure Gleason moment,not to be missed.
As a brief little aside,the only regrets I've ever had about these releases from MPI are that the ENTIRE shows themselves have not been released.Like the shows that the so called "Lost Episodes" were culled from,the entire shows still exist for these releases also.However I realize this is not so much the fault of MPI as it's what the Gleason estate will allow for release;on DVD and in syndication.It's just that the only things missing from THESE releases,for the most part,are a precious five-ten minutes of opening show intros and dialogue from Jackie.When all things are considered however,I suppose we should be grateful for what we do get.But I can dream,can't I?
In conclusion Gleason,Carney,Kean and Macrae are all back and as funny as ever in the continuing releases from MPI of the colour Honeymooner sketches culled from the Jackie Gleason Show of the late 1960s.Be aware of the first disc whose eps are at times not quite up to the standards set by the others after them(in the set) and the previous releases.As usual the dancing,the music and the humour is all top notch containing the typical Gleason/Honeymooners spirit we all know and love.
By the way,watch out for some well known actors you might recall who come by in support of the cast.Who? You'll have to watch to find out!