Friday, March 01, 2013

Don't You Think It's Odd?

I've been watching reruns of The Odd Couple.  I've seen it all before, but not in decades. It's fascinating when old episodes come up and you wait to see how certain moments compare to what you remember.

The Odd Couple, of course, is based on the famous play and movie from Neil Simon, though Simon had nothing to do with the TV show (except for a short appearance in one episode).  The idea of two mismatched friends is about as old as comedy itself, but Simon came up with the twist of the sloppy and neat one, both divorced, living like a feuding married couple. He also came up with quite a few brilliant jokes.

To turn it into a TV show, the top-notch writing team of Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson kept not just the leads, but all the other characters from the play--the poker players and the Pigeon sisters. They also kept the Neil Hefti music from the movie.  After a so-so first season, however, changes were in order.  The show went from one-camera to live and the supporting players (with the exception of Murray the cop) were dropped.  It brought a new life to the performances and while The Odd Couple was never a big hit, it ran for five years.

What holds it together, needless to say, are Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar. No matter how ridiculous the plots, they see it through. In fact, the writing could get pretty lazy at times, and no one seemed to care much about continuity--there are several episodes dealing with the first meeting of Felix and Oscar.  The show also had a fondness for celebrities, and every several episodes it seems Felix or Oscar run into one.

Randall and Klugman were both nominated for Emmys each year of the run, with Klugman taking two and Randall one.  While the characters are of equal importance, it's hard not to see Oscar as the regular (if sloppy) one and Felix as the crazy, demanding one. In fact, Sheldon Cooper seems a pretty obvious descendant of Felix.

Anyway, even though Randall and Klugman are no longer with us, the show lives on. I think they'd like that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel we must remember the black version of the Odd Couple in the 70s or 80s with Ron Glass (from Barney Miller and ?

3:59 AM, March 01, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Ron Glass was Felix. Demond Wilson of Sanford And Son was Oscar. It was the early 80s.

Also, an African-American-starring TV version of Neil Simon's Barefoot In The Park debuted on ABC the same year as the original Odd Couple but only lasted half a season.

9:00 AM, March 01, 2013  

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