Monday, February 27, 2017

'Mooners Monday #1: Alice and the Telephone

Let's consider the way Alice Kramden gazes at this telephone in "The Babysitter":

I said on Facebook that I wished I knew a woman who loved me the way Alice loved that telephone. Who can blame her, really? She spent years cooped up in that apartment without any link to the outside world (though, as Ralph notes, she did have a perfectly good window to yell through). Imagine how overjoyed she must have been to finally be able to reach her bookie without leaving the premises.

Actually, this episode is one of the creepiest ever for me due to the last-minute changes producers made. The Kramdens are assigned a phone number, Bensonhurst 3-7741, but as The Official Honeymooners Treasury notes, that was a working number, so Alice and Ralph later had to dub in "0-7740" and "0-7741." The frequent overdubs always gave this episode a surreal quality to me. I know many modern audiences find Ralph's "Bang, zoom!" threats off-putting, but to me the voiceovers in this episode are the most jarring thing in the "Classic 39" (The Lost Episodes have plenty of bizarro disturbing moments) season.

One other thing this episode made me wonder: Why didn't Alice take on more babysitting jobs? Sure, the obvious answer is the plots didn't require it, but if you think of it, it's the perfect spot for her: She gets out of the house while Ralph is off at his lodge meeting/bowling night/pool night/mumblety-peg tournaments, and Alice gets some extra bucks.

This episode has one of my favorite throwaway Honeymooners lines: Ed picking up a magazine at the barber shop and saying, "Hey, Ralph--Esquire! Va-va-voom!"

Ralph is not impressed. He reads it for the articles.

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