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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Satire > Urban > Housewife > Animation > Superhero > Action > TV > The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1 (1960 - 1961)/The Honeymooners: The Classic 39 Episodes (1955 - 1956)/I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 (1951 - 1952/CBS Blu-ray Sets)/New Adventures Of Superman: Seasons

The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1 (1960 - 1961)/The Honeymooners: The Classic 39 Episodes (1955 - 1956)/I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 (1951 - 1952/CBS Blu-ray Sets)/New Adventures Of Superman: Seasons 2 & 3 (1967 - 1968/DC Comics/Warner DVDs)

Picture: B/B+/B/C+ Sound: B-/B-/B-/C Extras: B-/B/B+/D Episodes: B-/A/A-/B-

Four TV classics are back on home video, all of which we have covered before. Three are TV comedy classics arriving in superior Blu-ray sets and the other is an animated classic finally finishing its journey to DVD.

After a very successful launch of the entire series on DVD, The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1 (1960 - 1961) finds itself one of the first U.S. TV sitcoms arriving on Blu-ray. Griffith remains popular including with Matlock and the not only has spin-off Gomer Pyle USMC been a DVD hit, but this show's own continuation in Mayberry RFD started surfacing on DVD as an online-only exclusive. Here is my coverage of that first season DVD set years ago:


Unlike that set, this one has extras to go with its upgraded picture and sound including sponsor material on select episodes, the Return To Mayberry TV movie in HD (!!!), nearly 9 minutes of terrific home movie footage in color that The Howards (Ron's parents) took on the set of the first season and the Season 7 Danny Meets Andy Griffith episode of The Danny Thomas Show in HD that served as an into to this show. That is first rate all the way and fans will be stunned at al of it.

Next is my personal favorite, which says something, The Honeymooners: The Classic 39 Episodes (1955 - 1956), the only filmed episodes of the legendary, groundbreaking show that started as a series of live skits and returned in color and even with musical shows. The DuMont Network (bigger than ABC at one point) pinned their hopes on the show to be a big hit, but scheduled it against a show too big to take on and this was cancelled only after a season. Of course, the DVD set has been out for years and we covered it at this link:


Of all the shows here, they have all stood the test of time and have episodes that hold up well, but these 39 Honeymooners shows shot on 35mm film have actually appreciated in value and even with I Love Lucy in its huge Fifth Season, this season was somehow actually stronger and funnier if that was actually possible. Lucy herself, good friends with Jackie Gleason, is the one who rightly named him The Great One. More proof that she got it all.

All the extras from the previous set are here, plus we get some new extras. The recent 50th Anniversary Special hosted by Kevin James joins the 35th Anniversary show, Promos in HD, 1956 Best Buick Yet industrial promo film with the cast made for dealers of the car in HD, a 1984 Gleason profile from CBS' 60 Minutes in HD including outtakes also in HD, a low definition (apparently a kinescope) 1956 Person To Person episode hosted by Gleason and 3/26/55 episode on black and white (videotape) of The Jackie Gleason American Scene Magazine series with Art Carney as Ed Norton in the skit The Adoption.

Of course, there are endless collectibles not featured here and many more to come, but this is a strong set of expanded goodies that fans will love. Of course, the Lost Episodes (on low def video or kinescope) are not included and will never need a Blu-ray release. A solid DVD collection of those has been issued and you can read more about it at this link:


I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 (1951 - 1952) continues to be as strongly popular, but what strikes me about the debut season is how strong it is since they still had limited budgets and how the scripts were unusually strong for any debut season for any TV show. All of the original Lucy TV shows (this one, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy) finally arrived on DVD after years of waiting, more restoration work than you might think and with a demand that will not go away. Having been issued on DVD before the advent of this site, we reviewed the original six season of this show at this link:


Besides some classic episodes that have more layers than it first would seem (Lucy thinking Ricky wants to kill her, Lucy doing a TV commercial, Lucy a possible kleptomaniac, Lucy gets Ricky on a quiz show, craziness trying to get into Ricky's stage act, plus The Mertzes always adding a new layer of madness to it all including Lucy and Vivian Vance becoming one of the greatest comedy teams ever), it is a time capsule of a happy America that always had a bizarre context and the makers of the show knew this and ran with it. A deceptive intensity is a plus and the result is a quartet with chemistry like hardly anyone else ever had on the history of TV or even motion pictures. Their critical and commercial success land up being forerunners of The Kennedys, The Beatles and so much more, which is why the live never ended for the show or its stars.

Extras here include a standard definition show on the original filmed pilot being discovered in 1990 (hosted by Lucy Arnaz) that is included here on HD as restored as possible, a nice HD block of make-up tests filmed on 35mm film, Before & After HD clip of how the shows were restored, Flubs in HD, all-audio Lucy On The Radio shows, Photo Gallery, low definition 1951 promo clip for the show, Behind The Scenes from an audio book, HD guest cast profiles, HD production notes, HD Sponsor Talent, Meet Marc Daniels in HD, On-Set Color Home Movies in HD (3:20), Sunday Lucy Show clips used to do early reruns of the show in HD, Clowning Around in HD stills, Fancy Editing in HD to show how two shows were changed for reruns and two 1991 audio commentary track on Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Kill Her and Lucy Does A TV Commercial from the old 12-inch Criterion Collection LaserDisc on the show with Lucy, Desi, writer/producer Jess Oppenheimer, co-writing superteam Bob Carroll Jr. & Madelyn Pugh Davis, director William Asher, actors Mary Jane Croft, Doris Singleton (on Kill only) Jerry Hausner (on both) & Ross Elliott (Commercial only), stage manager Herb Browar and TV historian Bart Andrews.

Last but not least is The New Adventures Of Superman: Seasons 2 & 3 (1967 - 1968) which concludes the 1966 set that was the debut of any animated DC Comics character on TV, launched the Filmation company and a classic series of DC animation on the 1960s:


This may be more of the same for those who are not as amused or entertained by this early hit as I am, but these additional 32 adventures remained as fun and with the right tone for a Superman we could take seriously without the strange yelling, screaming and boredom of recent live action incarnations. His main villains show up (vintage Brainiac, a fat Lex Luthor, The Toyman), but the show was aimed at a young audience and the makers respected that. Some shows are unintentional howlers, of course, but this was state of the art for the time (though limited budgets made this inferior to the Fleischer Superman animated theatrical shorts reviewed elsewhere on this site) and provides a time capsule for the character as well as TV and superhero comics of the time.

There are sadly no extras, but we'll see if Superboy will get announced soon.

Film prints of all four of these shows are regularly collected, bought, sold and even watched in 16mm and even 35mm by fans who enjoy them, but that still leaves most people having never seen them at their best. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfers on Griffith, Lucy and Honeymooners can show the age of the materials used, but these are easily far superior transfers to all previous releases of the episodes on DVD and lower-definition formats (VHS, Beta, etc.) with superior Video Black, Video White and some depth, detail and gray scale that will surprise many.

Griffith is the newest of the three but has some minor detail issues and print flaws that show a little more work could be done of some of these, but they make their DVD version more aged by comparison. Lucy also has some of the same kinds of flaws, but looks slightly better over all, though this is the initial season and for no one ever expecting a format that would be so revealing to viewers, hold their own just fine. A little more money has been spent on saving and preserving this show and that does not hurt.

However, it is Honeymooners that manages to be king here, also having some age issues with the print material, but they looked just that much better on DVD versus the Griffith and Lucy DVDs versions past. Ralph gets to be king with even more depth, detail and cleaner overall presentations (we don't know if this is a matter of film stock (DuPont vs. 3M vs. Kodak or the like) or how they were shot or how they were preserved or anything else you can think of, but from the opening when Ralph In The Moon rises up over the night sky, you're in for a surprise and they become the most vivid episodes after episode throughout. Nice!

The 1.33 X 1 image on Superman can vary from nice color and definition as originally intended to other copies that are a little softer with color issues.

As for sound, the PCM 2.0 Mono soundtracks on Griffith, Lucy and Honeymooners are all a noticeable improvement over their older, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono DVD versions with each show just being too soft and missing a bit something even analog optical soundtracks on film prints seemed to have or PCM 2.0 Mono on their 12-inch LaserDisc versions (where applicable) had. Griffith tends to be the quieter show of the three, so it is Lucy and Honeymooners where the improvements can be heard. In all three cases, hearing the actors and their lines, especially the jokes, play off much better in the Blu-ray sound presentation of all three.

Like the last DVD set, some of the lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on some Superman episodes are passable while other are distorted, warped, brittle and need serious work. Guess Blu-rays of these shows could mean that gets corrected.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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