The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Honeymooners (2003) THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW: Season 1/2 Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore Unrated, 12 hrs., 30 mins./13 hrs., 20 mins., 5 discs each, 1961-63…
Review

The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Honeymooners (2003)

EW's GRADE
A

Details Release Date: Oct 21, 2003; DVD Release Date: Oct 21, 2003; Movie Rated: Unrated; With: Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW: Season 1/2 Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore Unrated, 12 hrs., 30 mins./13 hrs., 20 mins., 5 discs each, 1961-63 (Image)

Born of Carl Reiner's experiences writing for Sid Caesar and Your Show of Shows, this gold-standard series broke the staid sitcom mold. Before The Dick Van Dyke Show, the suburbs had never been portrayed as a haven of sophistication. We hardly ever followed Ward Cleaver to work. And we never wondered what Ozzie and Harriet did behind closed doors. Van Dyke's iconic comedy writer, Rob Petrie, juggles the demands of his glamorous show-business career and his harried home life. But the heart and the heat of this series is in the palpable chemistry between Rob and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), his ravishing wife and nutty muse. Here is where Moore first turned the world on. Stylish enough to rate a Jackie Kennedy reference in one episode, scandalous to viewers in her hip-hugging capri pants, Laura was television's first babe-mom. The fine extras include cast interviews, making-of segments of certain episodes, and commentary from Reiner and Van Dyke. But fans will trip over themselves to get to the unearthed curio ''Head of the Family,'' the failed series pilot starring Reiner himself as Rob, Barbara Britton as Laura, and Sylvia Miles as Sally Rogers. A

THE HONEYMOONERS ''Classic 39'' Episodes Jackie Gleason, Art Carney Unrated, 16 hrs., 56 mins., 5 discs, 1955-56 (Paramount)

Having grown up watching The Honeymooners in late-night syndication, many fans probably came to accept those muddy, chopped-up airings as part of the show's primitive charm. So the pristine visuals of Paramount's overdue remastering, the ''Classic 39,'' are a welcome surprise. The series debuted as sketches on the DuMont Network's Cavalcade of Stars and, later, The Jackie Gleason Show. (Twenty-four volumes of those ''lost episodes'' were released on DVD in 2001-02, which served as a reminder that many of the slapdash segments were lost for good reason.) The show hit its stride in 1955, when it aired in stand-alone half-hour episodes. The resulting season constituted a Magna Carta of the domestic sitcom, complete with a dim-witted sidekick (Carney, brilliant as Ed Norton) and long-suffering spouse (the undersung Audrey Meadows). At the center of it all was Gleason, a comic dynamo, the show's star and auteur. Traces of his bombastic working-class striver, Ralph Kramden, have informed the likes of Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, and even Tony Soprano. Scant extras (a 1990 TV special hosted by Meadows, a few alternate opening and closing title sequences) are quibbles in a collection that's as necessary as they come. A

Originally posted Nov 07, 2003 Published in issue #736 Nov 07, 2003 Order article reprints