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The Honeymooners Specials: A Christmas Carol [DVD]

During the mid-1970s, Jackie Gleason revived “The Honeymooners” franchise for a series of four television specials. This 1977 production finds Ralph Kramden somehow getting himself recruited as the director of his bus company’s holiday season play, an adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” With Ed Norton as his assistant director and their wives Alice and Trixie shanghaied into the cast, one can hear the chaos coming from a mile away.

While Gleason and Art Carney initially appear to be a bit long in the tooth to carry on in their Kramden and Norton shenanigans – Carney seems to match Gleason in the girth department – they keep the energy going in their exchanges and in a funny segment with an uncooperative folding bed. Audrey Meadows’ Alice is given an unexpectedly sincere and touching monologue about how she feels betrayed by Ralph’s actions, while Jane Kean’s Trixie is given more screen time than Joyce Randolph ever received in the Classic 39 (although she has relatively little to do except act as Meadows’ sidekick).

One nice addition to the mix is the always-fussy Gale Gordon as Ralph’s boss – one of the funniest moments finds him on the unexpected receiving end of some Lucy-worthy slapstick – and announcer Johnny Olson gets a few funny moments as a town crier in the production of “A Christmas Carol.” There is also a last-second twist ending that will come as a happy surprise for those who ached over the years for Ralph to succeed in just one of his schemes.

This new DVD release will be a great stocking stuffer for “Honeymooners” fans.