The Honeymooners

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
One of these days, Alice!
"One of these days... one of these days... POW! Right in the kisser!"
Ralph Kramden

Originally broadcast 1955-56. The sometimes madcap, sometimes touching life of bus driver Ralph Kramden and his wife Alice (who live in a cold-water walk-up apartment in Brooklyn based on Jackie Gleason's childhood home at 328 Chauncy Street) and their neighbors, sewer worker Ed Norton and his wife Trixie. Ralph and Norton are constantly embroiled in one crackpot get-rich-quick scheme after another.

Born from a series of occasional sketches on the variety-format series The Jackie Gleason Show (many of which were rather misleadingly touted as "lost episodes" decades later), The Honeymooners was eventually spun off into its own series, featuring Jackie Gleason as big-mouthed, soft-hearted pseudo-bully Ralph and Art Carney as Norton, with Audrey Meadows as Alice Kramden and Joyce Randolph as Trixie. (Pert Kelton originally played Alice on in the sketches on The Jackie Gleason Show but was blacklisted during the HUAC "Red Scare" and forced out of the cast.)

Along with I Love Lucy, this is one of the ur-SitComs from the early days of television. While a one-season affair as a standalone series (it regularly got trounced in the ratings by The Perry Como Show during its initial network run), it remained a part of Gleason's reconstituted variety show until the end of its run, found a second life in ubiquitous syndicated reruns, and became a certified cultural icon, widely imitated (in particular by The Flintstones) both in Hollywood and abroad. (There have been at least two Swedish versions, for instance.) In the late 70s ABC-TV aired two one hour Honeymooners specials, one for Christmas and one for Valentine's Day. A movie version of The Honeymooners with an all-black cast (including Cedric The Entertainer as Ralph) was released in theaters sometime in middle- to late-2005. The verdict? In the words of one reviewer, "How sweet it isn't."

In 2002 CBS aired a TV movie called Gleason starring Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett as The Great One - one scene of which features Gleason creating the basics of The Honeymooners along with his other characters.

Tropes used in The Honeymooners include:

Fry: He was just using space travel as a metaphor for beating his wife.

    • Also, the occasional Beam Me Up, Scotty caused by taking one of Gleason's many other catchphrases and attributing it to Ralph. The most common is "And a-waaaaay we go!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: An episode has Ralph and Ed meeting Art Carney and Jackie Gleason, respectively.
  • Closer to Earth: Originally, Pert Kelton's Alice was supposed to be a shrew, and just as bad as Ralph. When Audrey Meadows replaced Kelton (after Kelton got blacklisted), the character was retooled.
  • Cloudcuckoolander. Ed Norton, many times, but often...
  • The CloudCuckoolander Was Right. ...he's right.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ed again, and how.
  • Crossover: One of the "lost" Christmas episodes featured Alice sending Ralph out to get special potato salad as she prepared the apartment for a holiday party. During the rest of the segment Gleason returned as his now lesser known characters including Rudy the Repairman, Joe the Bartender, The Poor Soul, and Reginald Van Gleason the Third, before finally returning as Ralph.
    • Another "Lost Episode" revealed that Ralph and Alice's Landlord is none other than Jack Benny!
  • Deadpan Snarker. Alice. Ed has his moments, too.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: TV Land noticed that much of the scripts were people repeating what they or other people had just said (for example, Ralph: "It can't be! It can't be!"), and created a promo highlighting this fact (calling the effect Duo Dialog).
  • Domestic Abuse: Despite what some parodies tell you, totally averted. Ralph was a pompous bully-wanna-be, but Alice was the emotionally stronger of the pair by far. In a mix of Closer to Earth and Over and Under the Top, Alice ignored Ralph's impotent threats of violence while Ralph was instantly cowed by dirty looks from Alice.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: An odd example that's not the show's fault at all; one episode has Ralph and Norton accidentally handcuffed together on a train, forcing Ralph to get out of bed whenever Norton wants something, much to the former's chagrin. After Norton prepares a cigarette, you can clearly hear a kid in the audience anticipate that Norton forgot to get a match.
  • Double Take: Brought to a science!
  • DuMont: Network that aired the earliest "Honeymooner's" sketches.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name (Edward Lilywhite Norton)
  • Epic Fail. The result of any of Ralph's Get Rich Quick schemes.
  • Every Episode Ending: Ralph and Alice make up and make out.
  • Fat and Skinny: Ralph and Norton.
  • Fawlty Towers Plot
  • The Film of the Series: The forgettable 2005 film.
  • Get Out!: Ralph Kramden says this to Ed Norton virtually Once an Episode.
  • Game Show Appearance: In one episode, Ralph competes on the (fictitious) show "The $99,000 Answer".
    • One of the "lost episodes" features the Kramdens appearing on Beat the Clock.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Ralph is a classic example of this.
  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Housewife
  • I Ate What?: In one episode, Alice takes care of a dog, and puts some leftover dog food in the icebox. Ralph and Ed find it, taste it and like it, and Ralph sees a money-making opportunity to market this delicious appetizer, tries to sell his boss on the idea... until one of the co-workers who raises dogs takes a sniff of it.
  • Incessant Music Madness: Norton often does this, prompting Ralph to finally yell at him to stop.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: "You're My Greatest Love", composed by Gleason himself.
  • It Will Never Catch On: One of Ralph's Zany Schemes involves selling frozen pizza.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ralph is one of the classic examples.
  • Last-Name Basis: Ralph calls Ed Norton "Norton".
    • For that matter, it seems like everyone calls him 'Norton' much more than they do 'Ed'...including Trixie who only calls him "My Ed" when she's worried about him like when he's sleepwalking.
  • Minsky Pickup: In the episode called "The $99,000 Answer" (after the fictional TV show Ralph is going on), when Ralph is cramming for an appearance on a game show where he has to identify songs, Norton is helping him by playing songs on the piano. To Ralph's consternation, EACH song is preceded by Norton "warming up" which consists of the first few notes of "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" followed by "dadum, dadum dum dum!" (The bit with the Minsky Pickup is here starting at 6:40) It's the only Honeymooners episode that has its own page on The Other Wiki.

Ralph: Why must you always play... (mimics the notes of "Swanee River") ...before you go in and play the song I'm trying to guess?
Norton: If I told you once, I told you a thousand times, it's the only way I warm up before I play the piano. A pitcher warms up in the bullpen before he pitches the ball game; I gotta warm up before I play the piano. I hope I don't have to tell you this again.

  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Ralph dreads the visits of his mother-in-law, because she constantly implies that Alice could've done better than him.
  • The Other Darrin: Audrey Meadows as Alice, with Pert Kelton The Pete Best.
  • Perpetual Poverty. To Ralph's chagrin. Alice isn't as bothered, although she does get a bit envious at times over Trixie's TV and phone.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In the episode "A Matter of Record", as Ralph's mother-in-law makes wisecracks about him to Alice, he glowers at her and says, "YOU! Are a BLABBERMOUTH!!!" This causes not just Alice's mother to leave, but Alice herself walks out on her husband as well.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Jackie Gleason based the apartment on his childhood home; Art Carney based his trademark of waving his hands before doing anything on a ritual habit his father had before he would write anything.
  • Shout-Out: Ed Norton is a big fan of Captain Video, as seen in the episode "TV or Not TV".
    • Another episode, "The $99,000 Answer", shows the titular game show as a parody of The $64,000 Question, which itself is mentioned time and again on the show.
  • Sitcom
  • Snap Back: One episode has Ralph being laid off, forcing Alice to get a job. By the end of the episode, things are back to normal.
  • Stan Freberg: Recorded one of the many parodies of the show -- "The Honeyearthers", in which the cast are all natives of the Moon.
  • Throw It In: In the filmed episode "The Man From Space", a knob falls off of Ralph's spaceman costume while he tries to get Alice to guess what he's supposed to be. Alice picks it up and hands it to Ralph. Instead of stopping filming Gleason simply ad-libs, "Gimme that. That's my Denaturalizer", and the scene continues.
    • In another episode "Better Living Through TV", as Ralph and Norton rehearse a commercial to sell an all-purpose kitchen gadget, part of the gadget falls off. Again, rather than stop the filming, Gleason ad-libs by picking it up and saying, "Maybe we ought to say something about spear-fishing?"
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Ralph's excuse for not buying Alice a TV set:

Ralph: I'm waiting for 3D television!
Alice: Are you waiting for 3D refrigerators, too?

  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
  • You Look Familiar: The very first Honeymooners sketch featured Art Carney as a passing policemen who gets a container of flour dropped on him from the Kramden's window. Ed Norton would make his first appearance in the second sketch.
  • Zany Scheme: So, so many, usually Ralph's idea.