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Trying for the Big Time
When the bus company boss runs into Ralph after work, he invites him to his Park Avenue apartment. His wife has given him a pool table, but he has never played. Ralph ends up taking Norton along, a recipe for disaster. There are a series of fish- out-of-water moments, but what happens is that Norton gets the ear of the boss and Ralph is left holding the bag. Then we have the usual dismissal of the friendship that now needs resolution. The conclusion beg some pretty serious acceptance; it's a bit too pat. Also, is there going to be any follow-up. Like the disappearing telephone (in one episode, the Kramdens get a phone, but it never appears again), Ralph has opportunities, but I doubt they will ever come to fruition
The Honeymooners: On Stage (1956)
Ralph Tries the Boards
Ralph Kramden is one of the most self assured characters in the history of television. There is nothing that he doesn't claim as his. In this episode, a man agrees to help put on a show to settle the debts of the Raccoon Lodge. Of course, a compliment or two leads our big lunk to become starstruck. Soon he is a cliché for a Clark Gable type, prancing around, giving orders and being temperamental. When a big Hollywood producer shows up, he is certain that his ship has come in. Norton is also great in this one. The ending is a bit sad, but it's in keeping with the series.
The Honeymooners: The Loudspeaker (1956)
Counting Those Chickens
One recurring thing in these shows is Ralph Kramden jumping to conclusions. He believes he has won a great award at his lodge and even though it has not been verified, he starts writing a speech and acting all bloated. He tries his joke out on Alice but she knows better after hearing so much of this stuff before. This is one of those touching episodes when the love of the characters transcends the plot. Actually, Alice and Tricia are quite rude and insensitive here which is a bit out of character.
Who's Minding the Store
This is about people dealing in death. Politicians seem to live in a world where their images trump (excuse the word) a moral intent. Lyndon Johnson, in retrospect, based his decision making on dealing with a conflict that was never resolvable. What he and his generals and cabinet did was beyond the pale. We are dragged through fields of dead bodies, victimized by people who never had to go to slaughter. And, of course, that ridiculous falling domino business was at the center. Ultimately, it got down to a country where the people would have been happy to see the country unified. If not for imperialism and interference, they would have gone about their business, doing their daily things. No. Some cockeyed politicians with their heads you know where couldn't leave well enough alone.
The Honeymooners: Trapped (1956)
This is a far cry from the rest of the series. Ralph witnesses a robbery and the two guys see him. He goes into immediate panic, hiding out, jumping when any loud noise presents itself. Alice tries to get him to tell the police, but he believes such an act will put them in danger. It turns out that the guys find out where he lives and show up. The remainder is comedic but with a very harsh edge to it. Alice is under threat, used against Ralph to control him. This is certainly a unique episode in a mostly lightweight series.
The Honeymooners: The Worry Wart (1956)
A Horse with a Clock in Its Stomach
Ralph gets a letter from the IRS. He assumes it's his piddly tax refund but it is letter asking him to go to their office. What ensues is an evening of panic. Ralph is convinced he is going to jail for tax evasion. Norton helps him dial up his paranoia. There is a hilarious scene where they attempt to come up with additional income he may have received, including a skinny chicken for a Christmas bonus and a horse statue with a clock in its stomach. There is a really hilarious scene when Ralph gets to the IRS office where the poor clerk doesn't understand a thing he is saying. Great fun, to say the least.
The King Falls
True to the formula, Ed and Ralph are approached by a man-on-the-street reporter and asked the question, "Who is the boss in your house?" Of course, with a little push from Norton, Ralph shoots his mouth off and Alice finds out front he article. Now he has to back it up. One thing he decides to do is get drunk. In a scene that is reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy, Ed and Ralph get stinking. The kicker is that Alice replaced the wine with grape juice, so there was no alcohol. They still act as if they have been on an all night binge. As we all know, there is going to be a test that requires Alice to rescue her knuckleheaded husband. The drunk scene is priceless. The bloviating is par for the course.
Ralph and Alice go through life in that terrible apartment. Day to day he comes home from driving the bus and asks for his dinner. She provides it on his meager income. During that time Ralph continues to dream, but his failings make it hard for him to fulfill those dreams. This episode is about lost youth and lost dreams. While it preaches that we should be happy with what we have, it's also sad that he works hard and never really realizes those dreams. Alice stays with him, of course, because she is the perfect mate, but she also never gets to see a little positive. A very good episode.
The Honeymooners: Pardon My Glove (1956)
Same Old Plot++
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy this, but it's the same old plot. Alice has a secret which would benefit Ralph and their relationship, but because there is another man, he gets obscenely jealous. In this case, she has been given a free, top to bottom home decoration from a department store. She decides to make it a surprise for Ralph's birthday. But he thinks she is up to something and hides on the fire escape. Well, we have already seen this bit about six times. Norton makes it worse. Alice is willing to forgive, even though this would have meant so much to her.
The General Leads His Army
Poor Alice. Poor Ralph. If one didn't look at this as a comedy, it might be kind of tragic. The Kramdens are living in an apartment with absolutely no luxuries. Ralph makes barely enough money to get by. When the landlord raises the rent by five dollars (probably like fifty dollars in today's values) he goes ballistic. He puts up a barricade and forces Alice and Ed to stay with him. They cut off all utilities so they are freezing and have no food. To make matters worse, a Marshall stands outside the door, ready with an eviction notice. As bad as it gets, I can't help but feel for the big guy. Nevertheless, there are some really good lines and Ralph has a series of explosions. It's prime Honeymooners as they sit on the street, snow falling on them, leaning over the table with that checkered tablecloth.