Disney Channel (Thurs., May 26, 9 p.m. ET)
Time for a little network nostalgia. Paul Reiser (Mad About You) serves as host for three specials built around Jackie Gleason’s work on the Cavalcade of Stars variety show on the DuMont network in the early ’50s. (Gleason was the third host of Cavalcade, following Jack Carter and Jerry Lester. When the Great One was hired away by CBS, he was in turn replaced by Larry Storch, who would gain prime-time notoriety a decade later as Corporal Agarn in F Troop.)
This initial installment of the Gleason triptych is made up of the first six sketches featuring Brooklyn’s bumptious Kramdens, all from 1951. Gleason, of course, plays Ralph. Pert Kelton plays Alice with a more truculent edge than Audrey Meadows would later bring to the role. Art Carney appears first as a nameless cop who is an innocent victim of one of the Kramdens’ battle royals. In each subsequent skit, Carney turns up in his accustomed role as Ed Norton, the rose of the New York City sewer system. Trixie is played once by Elaine Stritch and then forevermore by Joyce Randolph. How sweet it still is!