|Ralph and Ed Norton do drag!|
THE HONEYMOONERS SPECIALS
"Just what I always suspected! I'm calling Anita Bryant in the morning!" -- Alice's mother after seeing Ralph rubbing Ed's back.
"The Honeymooners: Second Honeymoon" (1976). Director: Jackie Gleason.
"The Honeymooners Christmas Special" (1978). Director: Jackie Gleason.
"The Honeymooners Valentine Special" (1978). Director: Jackie Gleason.
Jackie Gleason brought back most of the cast of the original Honeymooners -- Jane Kean of the Color Honeymooners replaced Joyce Randolph -- for four reunion specials in the late seventies, three of which are available on DVD. In "Second Honeymoon" Ralph (Jackie Gleason) and Alice (Audrey Meadows) are going to renew their vows at the raccoon lodge when Ralph gets the mistaken impression that Alice is pregnant. In the Christmas special, Ralph gets another hare-brained idea and uses his savings, his mother-in-law's social security check, and Norton's Xmas bonus to buy hundreds of lottery tickets. In the Valentine special, the funniest of the three, Ralph is convinced that Alice is plotting to murder him due to a gigolo she's met, and he and Ed (Art Carney) dress in drag to trap this other man. Some of the routines in these are over-familiar, the apartment looks especially stark on a large stage and in color, and Ralph and Alice still don't have a phone or most modern conveniences, but the cast's timing is still impeccable and there are a lot of laughs. Eileen Heckart [The Bad Seed; Miracle in the Rain] plays Ralph's mother-in-law in the Valentine special, and while she's a fine actress, she's not really suitable for the role. Templeton Fox is a little more on the mark, but neither of them can compare to Ethel Owen, who really nailed the role in the original series in the fifties. The fourth special had Ralph putting on "A Christmas Carol" for the Raccoon lodge, but this has not yet been released on DVD. Jane Kean was in the right time and place when these reunions were announced and got the part of Trixie again, but in all fairness it should have gone to Joyce Randolph, the original Trixie, as these were "reunions."
Verdict: Everyone's a little grayer, but the magic is still there. ***.