TV Land viewers will get to see an hour-long musical
episode of The Honeymooners, which hasn't aired since New Year's Eve
1965, during the retro network's tribute to the classic sitcom this week.
The multifaceted, weeklong stunt kicks off today (March 13)
and continues through Sunday (March 19), capped off by "The Honeymooners Fandemonium
Weekend." During that marathon, which will begin Saturday at 6 a.m., TV Land will air
the so-called "Classic 39" Honeymooners episodes nonstop for 48 hours.
Also during its tribute to the classic comedy -- which
starred Jackie Gleason as the immortal Ralph Kramden -- TV Land will premiere its first
original recurring special, Inside TV Land: The Honeymooners, March 14 at 10 p.m.
The series of hour-long documentary specials -- which will
be done four times a year, with each focusing on a different TV show -- is being produced
by Gay Rosenthal Productions, which was part of the creative team responsible for
VH1's hit series, Behind the Music.
"We wanted to do a series of specials about TV,"
TV Land associate general manager and senior vice president of programming Diane Robina
said. "And no one had ever done a retrospective on The Honeymooners.
There's a lot of behind-the-scenes footage. Our next one will be about The Andy
One of the centerpieces of this week's stunt will be
TV Land's telecast Thursday of a musical episode of The Honeymooners, which
aired as the Dec. 31, 1965, installment of CBS' Jackie Gleason and His American
The episode -- which TV Land licensed from Gleason's
estate -- hasn't been seen on TV since its original airing, according to network
For the overall Honeymooners event, which TV Land
described as its most exhaustive ever, Art Carney -- who portrayed sewer worker Ed Norton
on the vintage series -- has done interstitial vignettes. In the 30-second
"Ed-Vice" segments, Carney revives his character and hands out advice to viewers
TV Land -- which began airing The Honeymooners nightly
at 11 p.m. in January -- found out a lot of offbeat, interesting tidbits from
Gleason's estate and family, according to Robina.
"We're great fans of the show, and we started
doing research," she said. "We were like archeologists. So we decided we'd
like to do a big weeklong event as a great service to our fans."
The Honeymooners has had a complicated, convoluted
history. The series got its origins as a recurring sketch about a New York City bus driver
in 1950 on DuMont's Cavalcade of Stars, which Gleason was appearing on.
Gleason later got his own show on CBS, The Jackie Gleason Show, which had debuted
in 1952 as a variety show.
In 1955, it was cut down to a half-hour and retitled The
Honeymooners.Those stand-alone episodes have been dubbed the Classic 39, and
they will air during "Fandemonium Weekend" in their uncut version, restoring up
to three minutes of footage per episode that previously had been edited out.
From 1956 to 1957, The Jackie Gleason Show went back
on as an hour-long show, and it included The Honeymooners as its second half. Those
episodes are now known as the 69 "lost" episodes, and to date, TV Land has only
been airing those shows. TV Land will debut the Classic 39 episodes this coming weekend.
As part of its Honeymooners salute, under its Museum
of Television & Radio Showcase umbrella, TV Land will also air a 1952 installment
of anthology series Studio One, entitled The Laughmaker,in which
Gleason and Carney play dramatic roles.
And TV Land will run a 1993 special, hosted by Paul Reiser,
called The Honeymooners The Really Lost Debut Episodes, which aired once on
Disney Channel.That special includes the first Honeymooners segment from Cavalcade
TV Land is now in 47 million homes, and it expects to be in
49 million by year's end. In the full February sweep period, the network posted its
best month ever, with total-day ratings of 0.6, up 20 percent from 0.5 a year ago,
according to Nielsen Media Research.
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