“The Honeymooners” is about to be exhumed by CBS for a series reboot, becoming just the latest — and most improbable — classic to return from the dead.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg said in an online post Thursday that veteran showrunner Bob Kushell has been “attached” to the project, meaning he’ll write, create and produce. Goldberg said the new take centers on two couples — best friends and neighbors like the original — who contend with a new dynamic when one couple remarries after divorcing four years earlier.
No word on launch, but no surprise there — such “attachments” are simply the first step in a months (or even years) long process from concept to screen.
Nevertheless, “The Honeymooners?” Next — by the dictates of modern TV logic — will be “I Love Lucy,” then “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and eventually (a decade or two from now) “Seinfeld,” too. That “Friends” reunion? Just wait 10 years for the reboot. New stars in the key roles, but the titles will remain the same.
And why not? Here’s why not in this instance:
“The Honeymooners” as a reboot is — as you are aware — unbootable, but the talented Kushell is perhaps the best man to attempt the unbootable. He created “The Muppets” on ABC — one of the more amusing newcomers of 2015-16 that few watched, and some who did were outraged that their beloved Muppets had been consigned to a showbiz sendup (with slightly adult themes).
Such are the risks of tampering with classics, and he courts the same risks here.
But what others are there?
To the moon . . . er, list:
“The Honeymooners” was . . . utterly specific to the stars, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph.
“The Honeymooners” was . . . utterly specific to the moment, or the mid-’50s with the post-war boom in full progress, except in one apartment in one walkup in one part of Brooklyn, where rage tempered by impossible dreams (just out of reach) provided the comic beats as well as the pathos.
“The Honeymooners” was . . . a state of mind, as much as a TV series, which you “entered” as opposed to “watched.” Ralph entered your head, then Alice — her yin to his yang, of dreams confronted by truth.
“The Honeymooners” was . . . the kitchen, and the kitchen table, and the stove, and ice box. It was that view from the window, of a fire escape. It was all part of that state of mind, all irreplaceable, all unbootable.
“The Honeymooners” was . . . endlessly funny. It was perhaps the most efficient TV sitcom of the past 60 years, partly because there was so little of it. Only 39 episodes in total. Gleason said all he had to say, nothing more — and nothing less.
“The Honeymooners” was . . . memorable. Too memorable. We remember it all. Every line. Every double take. Every “to the moon.” Every Ed Norton entrance.
“The Honeymooners” was . . . make that is still on TV somewhere (MeTV airs it; and WPIX/11 will air its traditonal New Year’s Day marathon). We, or you, can see it whenever you like.
So good luck, Mr. Kushell. I think with this reboot, you’ll need it.