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'The Honeymooners' color episodes to air again / Color Television history...

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Dan C, Jun 26, 2003.

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  1. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    Location:
    The West
    'The Honeymooners' color episodes to air again

    The story says they haven't aired in over 30 years, but I swear I watched them on TV with my family in the late 70s. Could've been a special and my fading memories playing games with me.
    These shoes weren't as good as the 50s originals, were they?

    Dan C

    http://www.msnbc.com/news/931615.asp?0dm=C14aL

    LOS ANGELES, June 26 — Cue the lush strains of Jackie Gleason’s theme song “Melancholy Serenade.” Enter the June Taylor Dancers, festooned in feathers and sequins. From the fun and sun city Miami Beach, a version of Jackie Gleason’s “The Honeymooners” not seen in more than 30 years is returning to television. As the Great One himself would no doubt say, “How sweet it is!”

    STARTING SATURDAY, the fledgling cable channel GoodLife TV Network will broadcast the 42 “Honeymooners” episodes originally presented in color as part of “The Jackie Gleason Show” that aired during the 1960s on CBS.
    Riding a wave of Baby Boomer nostalgia for old television shows, the 42 color shows are taking their place in TV afterlife beside two older black-and-white iterations of the landmark comedy — 39 episodes that ran as a stand-alone sitcom in the 1950s and a collection of 68 segments taken from Gleason’s old variety hour earlier that decade.
    The color “Honeymooners,” which last aired as a set of reruns in 1971, star Gleason reprising his signature role as loudmouth bus driver Ralph Kramden and Art Carney returning as his bumbling but affable sidekick, sewer worker Ed Norton.

    Newcomers Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean played their respective, long-suffering wives, Alice and Trixie, replacing Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph from the earlier cast.
    As in previous versions of “The Honeymooners,” the show was set in the run-down New York City tenement inhabited by the Kramdens and often centered around the ill-fated get-rich-quick schemes forever hatched by the Gleason and Carney characters.

    MUSIC AND DANCERS
    Besides airing in color, the one-hour show was produced on a grander scale than the half-hour “Honeymooners” series, complete with original songs and dance numbers performed by the four principal players.

    “Doing it the way we did, live, with the original music and dancers, it was like doing a Broadway show every week, once a week, so there was that much pressure,” Kean, 79, recalled in a telephone interview with Reuters.
    Kean said Gleason, who died of cancer in 1987, was very much in charge of the show and known to be demanding, but she denied he was the insecure control freak suggested in a recent CBS made-for-TV movie about Gleason.
    “I think they were a little too heavy on him. He did control the show. Everything had to be the way he wanted it. He was very good to the actors. We never had any complaints. He was a little tough on the writers,” she said.
    Likewise, Marilyn Gleason, a member of the June Taylor Dancers who became the entertainer’s third wife in 1975, acknowledged, “There was a little bit of Ralph Kramden in Jackie, oh yeah .... He wasn’t a patient man, and he never counted to 10. He said what was on the top of his head.”

    STICKING TO THE SCRIPT
    Asked why ‘The Honeymooners’ has endured for so long, Marilyn Gleason quoted her husband’s famous terse explanation: ‘Because it was funny.’

    One rule that Gleason rarely departed from was doing each show just once, without retakes. “He wouldn’t go back over it because he said the audience is not going to laugh twice at the same joke,” Kean said. And contrary to a widely held perception that much of the show was ad-libbed, Kean said the performers stuck very closely to the script.
    “The Honeymooners” began in 1951 as a recurring comedy sketch within the Gleason-hosted “Cavalcade of the Stars,” which later became “The Jackie Gleason Show.”
    In 1955-56, CBS aired 39 episodes of “The Honeymooners” as separate series, but the show failed to catch on and was pulled after a single season, though it lives on as a TV classic in syndication.
    “When they went to the half hour and it was filmed, it took away the spontaneity,” Marilyn Gleason recounted.
    Gleason returned with a lavish hour-long variety program in 1962, later moving his show from New York to Miami Beach. Carney rejoined the cast in 1966, and “The Honeymooners” was revived as hour-long segments filling over half the remaining “Jackie Gleason Show” telecasts during its final four years.
    Asked why “The Honeymooners” has endured for so long, Marilyn Gleason quoted her husband’s famous terse explanation: “Because it was funny.”
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Location:
    B.C.
    It will be a complete pleasure to see these shows again.

    Hope we get them in Canada.
     
  3. guy incognito

    guy incognito Senior Member

    Location:
    Mee-chigan
    What I'd really love to see are DVD releases of some of the complete "Jackie Gleason Show"/"Cavalcade of Stars" episodes.
     
  4. John Moschella

    John Moschella Senior Member

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    Dan,
    These are not nearly as good as the shows with Audrey Meadows so be prepared.
     
  5. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    Location:
    The West
    Re: 'The Honeymooners' color episodes to air again

    I meant to say "shows" rather than "shoes", I really don't care if their shoes weren't as good as the old ones. ;)
    I won't get to see these anyway, don't have cable or satellite and I've never even heard of the "GoodLife" network.
    I agree with guy though, the complete 50s shows on DVD would be excellent.

    Dan C
     
  6. JakeM

    JakeM Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richboro, PA
    I remember seeing them in the late 70s as well. I think it was on channel 5 from New York. No they're not as good as the Classic 39, but still enjoyable.
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    That weird pastel CBS early solid state color system. Noralco wasn't it?

    Looks neat but doesn't have that RCA color tube glow.....
     
  8. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Media Doctor (& Video Gort) Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Well, there are **some** good examples of CBS color from the mid-60s that still exist. The 1st color Ed Sullivan show (9/65, aired live from Television City) is one of them.

    (Though I don't think I've ever seen anyone sing "What the World Needs Now" quite as, um.... **intently** as Polly Bergen.)

    Additionally, there are some existing Goodson-Todman daytime game shows that are rather nicely hued... the 1967 "Password" & "To Tell the Truth" come to mind.

    Overall though, it **is** pretty obvious that the Tiffany Network's heart wasn't really into serious color broadcasting, at least at first...

    -Kevin
     
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    CBS color is neat (I always think of the Stones on Sullivan) but it doesn't GLOW like the reds and purples of the older RCA system. Those cameras and oddments were made in 1954, the CBS stuff was brand spanking new for '66.
     
  10. bldg blok

    bldg blok Forum Resident

    Location:
    Elmira, NY
    When you talk about the "RCA system" Steve, are you referring to shows that aired on NBC or was it not exclusive to their network?
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    I'm just talking about the RCA color equipment, designed in 1953 and '54. Used by the NBC stations from 1954-70. It has a certain "look". When you see an old color videotape of an NBC show, notice the luminescent purples and reds. Lots and lots of tubes. By the time CBS bit the bullet and went color in 1966, most of THEIR gear was solid state. Nice, but without that early NBC magic. Most of the NBC stations were still using their original color gear well into the 1970's...
     
  12. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    As was the wonderful colors in "Lost In Space", Batman, etc.:thumbsup:
     
  13. bldg blok

    bldg blok Forum Resident

    Location:
    Elmira, NY
    So the reruns of "The Hollywood Squares" (the classic shows w/ Paul Lynde, Charlie Weaver, and Wally Cox) on the GameShow Network would show the qualities of this system, right? "I Dream Of Jeannie"? I'd imagine it was used for sports brdcsts. as well. IIRC NBC had the '69 Jets-Colts Superbowl and the '69 Mets-Orioles WS. Would "The Monkees" episodes be on the RCA or the CBS system? I know the show was on NBC, but I seem to remember something about Columbia owning the rights to the name/episodes. Maybe they just bought it off Kirshner.
     
  14. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    Location:
    The West
    "I Dream of Jeannie" and "The Monkees" were shot on color film with a single camera, basically "movie style" but on the cheap in comparison.
    Supposedly neither CBS nor NBC saved tapes of the first Superbowl (is that amazing or what!).

    So the GameShow Network is airing original "Hollywood Squares" shows? Did they find a vault full of lost tapes recently? I recall hearing that most or all of those episodes were erased years ago.

    Dan C
     
  15. bldg blok

    bldg blok Forum Resident

    Location:
    Elmira, NY
    As far as "The Hollywood Squares" Dan, I seem to recall that the tapes were "stumbled upon" in an NBC vault. I seem to remember hearing that on the "E! True Hollywood Story" for "THS".

    What you say about the SBs seems right, but I did see a rebroadcast, might've been editted, for the Jets-Colts SB on ESPN Classic awhile ago.
     
  16. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I'm hoping they put out a Complete Honeymooners Original 39 Episodes DVD Boxset..as of now, the only way to get the Original "39" are through Columbia House! Quite costly! Anyone heard any info?
     
  17. quadjoe

    quadjoe Senior Member

    Thanks Steve! Now I know I wasn't dreaming it. I remember when we got our first color TV (1968-Magnavox, tube chassis) it always seemed to me that NBC had better (more saturated) color than CBS.
     
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    They certainly had an intense system compared to the CBS Solid State system.

    Both systems are missed today, where everything looks "natural" and boring, heh.
     
  19. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY
    NBC Color - Bonanza and Star Trek !! I had to go to my grandmother's house to watch Bonanza until we finally got a color set in 1968. IIRC, Bonanza helped to sell color. Actually, I was thinking about this the other day when I was watching one of the Avengers (67) episodes. Back then, it seems that more care was taken, color-wise, when designing the sets, selecting the wardrobe, etc. Maybe it was overdone, but the colors seemed more vibrant.

    Also, I think that it started with All in the Family which was the first series to be reguraly filmed on video tape rather than film. It looked great and "life-like" when it was first used, but now they look very bright.
     
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Not bright, you mean over lit. A technique used in TV in those days to assure that consumers could see everything, the old sets being not as sensitive as the ones today. This over-bright technique is best seen on The Brady Bunch and other filmed 1/2 hour shows. A lot of old TV sets had bad contrast and that is why the shows were lit like that. When ever I watch any of this stuff on one of my old Color sets it looks just right. BUT, Law And Order (for example) looks dull and monochromatic...
     
  21. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY

    "over-bright" that makes sense now. No wonder I have to make some adjustments when I watch TV Land.
    Perhaps L&O looks dull and monochromatic because the director choose this style to match the overall mood of the show. Like Miami Vice was bright and vibrant.

    It's interesting that you use your old sets to watch TV. Do you do it just to keep them up and running, or for the old-time nostalgia feel, or is there any advantage to viewing on an old set when compared to today's basic models? (please ignore my ignorance here if there is an obvious reason that I am not familiar with)
     
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    I run each set an hour a week, to keep the caps going. They have INTENSE vacuum tube color that must be seen to be believed. Nothing like it today. Think about it; inside each set is like 30 tubes! Even the sound coming out of the TV Speaker has the breath of life!
     

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  23. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here


    The picture I can well believe, but....the SOUND?!?:confused: From that little speaker? How'd they do it?:)


    ED:cool:
     
  24. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY
    WOW. I always thought my memory forced to me to "remember" those old TVs as having deep colors. I guess that they really did!

    I think that cable TV also contributed to the loss of vibrancy in the broadcast picture quality. A picture received throught the roof antenna always seemed more alive than the dull muted cable picture.

    As I write this, my wife just telephoned me to tell me that she is switching our cable service over to digital (in addition to getting a cable modem for the computer - finally available in my neck of the woods). It should be a great improvement over the terrible cable reception now.
     
  25. quadjoe

    quadjoe Senior Member

    Beautiful old set Steve! I agree about the intensity of the color, my folks '68 Magnavox set (all tubes) had really vivid color compared to the 1978 set they replaced it with (do you know who sourced the Magnavox picture tubes? I know they didn't make their own.) BTW, my stepbrother used the '68 for another 10 years before it gave up the ghost. I noticed that the set in your pic is an RCA, does the tube in it have the "correct" NTSC phosphors? I know RCA was the last manufacturer to go for the brighter but less accurate phosphors, but I don't know when they did that.
     
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