What can only be called the holy grail of American television comedy is now here as MPI Home Video has released the mammoth collection ‘The Honeymooners Lost Episodes: The Complete Restored Series.’ The 15-DVD collectible set of rare sketches and full-length shows – many not seen since their original broadcast – is now available. From the moment it debuted on the DuMont Network’s Calvacade of Stars variety show starring Jackie Gleason in 1951, ‘The Honeymooners‘ been an American television treasure. When Gleason moved to CBS a year later he took ‘The Honeymooners’ with him and between 1952 and 1957, ‘The Honeymooners’ became a regular feature of The Jackie Gleason Show on CBS. Viewers fell in love with beleaguered Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden (Gleason, The Hustler, Smokey and the Bandit), his long-suffering wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) and their best friends and neighbors, sewer worker Ed Norton (Oscar winner Art Carney, Harry and Tonto) and his wife Trixie (Joyce Randolph).
These classic ‘Honeymooners’ episodes were broadcast live and never seen again until Jackie Gleason opened his private film vault in 1985 and announced that he had kinescopes – films made from a television monitor – of these thought-to-be-lost live ‘Honeymooners’ shows. Now, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the very first ‘Honeymooners’ broadcast, MPI Home Video and Jackie Gleason Enterprises present the most complete collection possible of these rare gems. Many have not been seen anywhere in 50 years and numerous sketches and episodes are making their DVD debut. Among the highlights and firsts of this more-than-50-hour collection: 30 episodes and sketches never before on DVD – including the eight highly sought-after 1957 ‘Honeymooners’ musical hours, which have not been seen anywhere since their original broadcasts; two previously unknown ‘Honeymooners’ radio shows; rare color home movie footage of a 1957 ‘Honeymooners’ rehearsal; the first home video release of the nine known surviving ‘Honeymooners’sketches from the DuMont Cavalcade of Stars variety show, featuring the original Alice Kramden, Pert Kelton; and new bonus features including an interview with Joyce Randolph.
Included among the 107 ‘Honeymooners’ live broadcasts in the collection are 14 full-length shows and 4 sketches not seen since their original airings in the 1950s. The collection has been digitally restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and includes a deluxe 42-page booklet containing the full ‘Honeymooners’ history and rare photos, compiled by ‘Honeymooners’ expert Robert S. Bader. With “The Great One,” Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden – one of television’s most beloved and iconic characters – ‘The Honeymooners’ remains as hilarious as when it was first seen more than half a century ago. Generations of ‘Honeymooners’ fans can rejoice as the most complete collection of these classic shows is now available. Buy the Lost Episodes 1951-1957 (The Complete Restored Series) right here.