For many people, the appealing aspect of greatest hits collections is the chance to hear favorite songs by an artist without the filler or musical experiments that didn’t quite pan out. And for listeners who like but don’t love them, greatest hits packages can satisfy their aural cravings.
The same holds true with MPI Multimedia’s CD-ROM “The Honeymooners Funniest Moments,” a collection of clips from the 70 “lost episodes,” discovered in 1985. “Honeymooners” fans will appreciate having the big laughs gathered all in one place. For those just lukewarm about the show, it’s a great introduction to some classic comedy bits, and might just convert some into full-fledged fans.
The title is wonderfully straightforward and easy to use — no assuming that the user is a computer whiz kid. Clips are arranged according to clearly marked thumbnail sketches within a topic area. For instance, category areas are labeled “Marriage,””Schtick,””Ralph & Ed” and “Schemes.” Each category contains 12 clips.
The user merely clicks on a still frame from the clip he or she wants to view. This is the sort of simple interface more CD-ROM designers should be employing. One of the title’s bonuses is a section called “More Info,” which contains an essay on how the “lost episodes” were lost and later found.
It turns out that the kinescopes — films of the broadcast made by pointing a movie camera at a high resolution monitor and recording the image directly from the TV screen — were buried deep in the CBS archives. In 1980, the Museum of Broadcasting (now the Museum of Television and Radio) unearthed them.
Other gems in the “More Info” section include a critical essay on “The Honeymooners” from Film Comment magazine, an article profiling Jackie Gleason from a 1953 issue of Cosmopolitan, a list of the lost episodes available on video and best of all, a Variety review of “The Jackie Gleason Show” originally published on September 29, 1954. (For the record, Variety’s reviewer loved the show).
“The Honeymooners” CD is a terrific example of the power of multimedia in its combination of text, audio and motion video. It’s also testimony to the continuing alliance being formed between the world of conventional entertainment and the world of digital media.