Why were the Honeymooners so special and why does their magical chemistry still have a hold on television viewers today? Read on for more commentary.
Surely no homage to the golden age of television could ever be made without paying tribute to the wonderful sit-com, The Honeymooners, which aired for the first time on September 20, 1952. The first episode was memorable; Ralph’s new bowling ball, which his fingers get trapped in. It’s hard to believe that the series itself was on for only one season (1955-56 on CBS). Gleason introduced the The Honeymooners in 1951 during his first variety series, Cavalcade of Stars. The Honeymooners started out as one sketch among many, lasting less than ten minutes each. Over the course of time, the episodes grew longer, many of them exceeding thirty minutes.
The poignancy of post-war poverty and the attempt to achieve the American dream is always a motivating factor for the actions of bus driver, Ralph Kramden and sewer worker, Ed Norton. The Kramden address, 328 Chauncey Street, (now part of Bedford Stuyvesant), was Gleason’s own when he was a poor boy growing up and living with his mother in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Who could ever forget some of the outstanding episodes highlighted by the comedic genius of Art Carney as the inimitable Ed Norton? Two stand out in my mind; the Name That Tune parody and Ed’s sleepwalking venture, in which he searches for his little dog, Lulu, who got lost at Coney Island in “the tunnel of love.” He parades around the Kramden apartment with arms outstretched in a total trance except for a moment when he opens the Kramden refrigerator and steals a piece of chicken. The other episode presents Ralph memorizing every song ever written and practising with Norton on the piano. Norton, in order to warm up, plays a bar or two of Swanee River. When Ralph appears on the show, confident that he has learned every song ever written, the first song he is asked to identify is Swanee River. When asked who the composer was, he stammers and then after a moment replies, “Ed Norton?”
What are some of YOUR favorite episodes?