Monday, July 14, 2008

Ralph and Alice's Adoption

The Honeymooners: The Adoption
Running Time: 37 min. Episode #57

Originally seen as a 37-minute sketch on the March 26, 1955, edition of The Jackie Gleason Show, "The Adoption" is easily the most poignant and heartrending of all the Honeymooners episodes.

The Kramdens want to adopt a baby. "We wanted this more than anything in the world," says Ralph. The adoption agency tells Alice her application is being considered, but that a staff worker must come to the apartment to look it over before final approval is granted. A pall falls over the Kramdens because they think once the worker sees their crummy apartment they'll be denied a child. They borrow furniture--a TV set, drapes, refrigerator, stove, new table and chairs, couch, etc.--to make the apartment look presentable.

Ralph and Alice are as nervous as two kids on their first date as they wait for Miss Lawrence from the agency to arrive. As she is interviewing the Kramdens, Ralph almost blows everything when he notes with amazement that a light goes on in the refrigerator when the door is opened. But no amount of homina-hominas can keep the charade going when Frank, the iceman, comes in with the Kramdens' daily delivery for the icebox. Ralph and Alice finally admit they redecorated the apartment with borrowed goods to make an impression. We're not cheating to get a child, Ralph says desperately, we're fighting to get one.

Miss Lawrence says the agency is not as concerned with furnishings as it is with finding couples who really want children, and that she's never met a couple who want a child more than the Kramdens. Approved!

The Nortons accompany the Kramdens to the hospital to pick up the baby. When the child is wheeled out Ralph's joy turns to anger when the doctor says the baby is a girl. Ralph insists that he get a boy, and the doctor goes off to try to arrange it. Alice, near tears, leaves the room, leaving Ralph alone with the baby. Ralph apologizes to the baby for not wanting to bring her home. As the infant weaves her magic on Ralph, his arguments for not wanting a girl become less convincing. By the time the doctor returns with the news that the Kramdens can get a boy, Ralph turns on him like a lion defending his cub--Ralph wants the girl. "Ralphina" is a Kramden.

A week later, the doctor visits with somber news: the child's natural mother wants the baby back. Ralph, enraged at the doctor for bringing the news and at the mother for trying to reclaim the child, pounces on the doctor and manhandles him. The doctor hastily explains that the Kramdens are Ralphina's legal parents now [in just one week??] and that he and the adoption agency will support them in a custody fight; he came only because the mother was so insistent.

He leaves, and Ralph, emotionally unprepared for this turn of events, reacts the only way he knows how: he hollers, in pain. Alice, as bad as she feels, empathizes with the mother. Ralph tries to suppress similar feelings, but eventually his conscience overrules his heart: they must give up the child. He goes upstairs to the Nortons' to call the doctor, leaving Alice alone, sobbing.

Running time: 37:05

On January 8, 1966, Audrey Meadows returned for 1 special episode, "The Adoption", a classic Jerry Bresler & Lyn Duddy musical episode featuring Ralph & Alice's attempt to adopt a baby. It was part of the "Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine" This would be the last episode filmed in black & white and is a precursor to what is now known as the "Color Honeymooners" over the next 4 seasons.

NOTE: I guess this was case in which "art" did not affect life.

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