Felix and Oscar return for a fourth year of laughs in The Odd Couple. Not much has changed in the world of Oscar and Felix, but isn’t that what you were hoping to hear? What I found interesting in this somewhat weaker season is that even when the actors were beginning to realize that the show was slipping, the pair never missed a beat in their own chemistry. Often it seems they lacked interest in the material when their characters were apart, but something always happened when they were together. I get the impression they genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. It’s the saving grace in season four.
What started as a Neil Simon play and eventual film became one of ABC’s most endearing comedies of the 1970’s. One could credit the clever premise of putting a neat freak and a slob under the same roof. One might look to the fact that both the film and play were considerable hits to explain the success of the series. The truth is it was none of these things. Plenty of hit films have spawned crappy shows. Remember That Big Fat Greek Wedding? Even Neil Simon plays have been the starting point for bad television. Remember Barefoot In The Park? My point exactly. Even The Odd Couple was attempted again in the 1980’s with Ron Glass and Demond Wilson. If you remember that one, you should get some help for those bad dreams you’re having. The simple truth is that it was Tony Randall and Jack Klugman that made this series fire on all cylinders. Before watching this set, I tried to think back on my favorite episodes, and I made a rather interesting discovery. I couldn’t remember even one plot. What I could recall were many moments between these two gifted comedic actors. Long after the stories themselves had been forgotten, it was Felix and Oscar, Tony and Jack that remained. It’s almost too horrific a thought that these were not the actors the show was created for. It was Art Carney and Martin Balsam that were expected to fill these parts when Gary Marshall began to construct The Odd Couple for television. Whatever happened, I don’t know the story; what I do know is that the television gods intervened, and what was likely going to be a one season and out comedy ended up lasting 5 seasons.
The premise was simple and outlined in the show’s opening monologue. Felix and Oscar are recently divorced and share an apartment out of sheer convenience that doesn’t really end up being convenient to either. Felix is a clean freak who makes Adrian Monk look messy by comparison. He works as a photographer. His friends are high class opera lovers and art museum patrons. Oscar is a world class slob. His floor and even his bed are merely depositories for whatever needs throwing out at the time, including dirty clothes and leftover food. He works as a sports writer for a local paper. His friends are poker buddies and fellow sports enthusiasts. Most of the best moments occur when these two worlds collide. Other regulars included Murray the cop, played by Al Molinaro. With
Do you want a small preview of what to expect in season four? How about Oscar getting dragged to of all things a ballet appreciation class? If that’s not enough, guess who fills in when a dancer misses a recital? Watch Last Tango In Newark to find out. You guessed it anyway? It’s flashback time in The Odd Holiday to a joint vacation the unhappy couples took when they were all still married. Felix thinks he can save Oscar’s marriage. Good thing he messed that up, or think of the laughs we all would have missed. When Felix and Oscar win a car, they discover why so few people in
Each episode of The Odd Couple is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. There’s a lot of grain in these episodes. The colors are pretty muted as well. Truth is, these aren’t very good transfers at all. Still, I found myself forgiving the bad picture. After all, it’s hard to really judge video quality when you’re laughing so hard your eyes are watering.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is pretty bland. The dialogue is clear, and really, does anything else matter? The theme clips a bit in the intro and even sometimes throughout the show. I might have been able to detect other nuances in the sound if I weren’t laughing so hard that I missed them.
While this wasn’t exactly the best season of The Odd Couple, there were still plenty of laughs to be found. Unfortunately the idea was getting a tad stale, and I found this year’s episodes to be somewhat less than up to par. Even so, there’s enough good humor left in the show to make the set a reasonably safe bet. Look. You’ve already sprung for the first three sets. There’s only gonna be one more, so you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who would quit?”