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My Top 5 New Year's Honeymooners Marathon Episodes

With Christmas now in the rear view, it's time to look ahead to the next holiday... New Year's Eve!  Not quite the barn burner in my house, it's often a quiet night my wife and I look forward to eating Chinese take out and watching marathons on TV... and often going to bed at about 12:05AM.

One such marathon here in New York is the Jackie Gleason classic "The Honeymooners" on famed New York network WPIX (Channel 11).

WPIX will routinely air episodes late at night that I'll catch if I happen to be awake at 2 or 3 in the morning.  Sometimes they will also air mini-marathons on other holidays such as Thanksgiving.  However, as my wife said this past Thanksgiving... "The Honeymooners is for New Years."

Without further ado, let's get going on the top 5 episodes I look forward to seeing every New Year's marathon.

5.  Mama Loves Mambo - Episode 23, Originally Aired March 3, 1956
In this episode a dance instructor moves in to the apartment next door to the Kramdens.  He teaches all of the wives to dance to the mambo at the expense of all of the men in the building.  Ralph, Ed, and some of the other husbands decide the best thing to do is learn the mambo themselves.  The dance lesson, along with Jackie Gleason's improvisations, are the most hysterical and memorable part of this one.

4.  Young at Heart - Episode 20, Originally Aired February 11, 1956
In Young at Heart, Ralph and Ed try to prove to their wives they are still young, virile, and exciting.  Like most episodes, the wives complain that the boys don't engage them like they used to... they don't dance, roller skate, take walks in the park, etc.  Watching Gleason once again get the chance to perform physical comedy in the scene where he dances to "The HuckleBuck" or attempt to roller skate is a true joy and makes this one of my all time favorites.

3.  Head of the House - Episode 27, Originally Aired March 31, 1956
In the early part of this episode, Ralph is caught bragging that he is the head of the household.  Anyone who knows Mr. Kramden would know, however, that is far from truthful.  This episode is full of hilarity as Ralph attempts to prove to his friends that he is indeed man of the house.   The scene where Ralph and Ed get "drunk" off non-alcoholic grape juice is quite possibly one of the funniest "pee your pants" type scenes in the entire run of the show.  Gleason and Carney improvise the entire scene playing off each other in a little friendly competition of who could get the bigger laugh.  Their comedic chemistry shines here as this is truly a memorable episode.

2.  Better Living Through TV - Episode 7, Originally Aired November 12, 1955
I struggled whether or not to place this number 1 or 2 and ultimately the next episode won out.  That's not to say this is not a great episode nor do I truly get laughs out of this one.  Better Living Through TV is once again another Ralph Kramden "Get Rich Quick" scheme.  He decides to sell an all-purpose kitchen utensil he calls "The Handy Housewife Helper."  Despite Alice's wise suggestion, Ralph and Ed book a television spot to sell their product.  Often considered the best sitcom episode of all time, the scene where Ralph gets stage fright and (unscripted) falls through wall is one of the funniest bits I can remember in the entire series.  Who could also forget the famous question "But can it core an apple, though?"

1.  Unconventional Behavior - Episode 33, Originally Aired May 12, 1956
This is my all time favorite episode of the Honeymooners.  Ralph and Ed are headed up to the Raccoon convention by train where hijinks ensue.  I love anything with traveling in the episode... road trips, planes, buses, trains... and this doesn't disappoint.  Planning pranks on their fellow Raccoon members, Ralph and Ed wind up handcuffed together.  Due to Ralph's size, the predictable jokes about finding a comfortable way to sleep or spend their time on the train are downright hysterical.  "Boomph" goes the handcuffs.

Honorable Mention:  TV or not TV - Episode 1, Originally Aired October 1, 1955
Ok, so I can't have just 5.  This episode sticks out to me as a classic, not only because it was the first episode, but because I think it was one of the first episodes I had ever seen.  In this episode, Ralph and Ed pool their money together to buy a new television set, but, since there are two apartments and one TV, they must share.  In some hysterical scenes Norton appears at their house in the middle of the night to watch his "Space Ranger" programs.

One other quick mention, not because it's a great episode or anything, but as a lifelong die hard Opie and Anthony fan, I'd be remiss to not mention Anthony Cumia's oft-quoted "MR. FAVERSHAM" from the episode "On Stage."