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The story of bus driver Ralph Kramden and wife Alice was an unfancy celebration of unfancy people. The episodes—most of them sketches within The Jackie Gleason Show—were limited to sparse sets, usually the Kramdens’ bare bones Brooklyn walkup. But the dynamics between rubber-faced Gleason, Audrey Meadows and swivel-hipped jack-in-the-box Art Carney as sewer guy Ed Norton made the setting seem expansive. OK, so it was TV’s most famous example of spouse-abuse-threats-as-comedy. But knowing that there was no way Alice was ever actually going to go to the moon only added to Ralph’s blobby comic ineffectuality.

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