After just 5 years on the air, the unlikely duo of Oscar and Felix take their final victory lap in this the 5th and final season of The Odd Couple. Even though the show lasted a mere half decade, it remained in our collective consciousness for over 40 years and shows no sign of slowing now. Both of the stars, particularly Klugman, went on to do many huge things later, but they never did escape these small sit-com roles. You might as well come along for the ride and enjoy that last victory lap with them.
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
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.
This is a good news/bad news type of deal. The good news is that now you have the opportunity to own every last episode of The Odd Couple. 114 half hour pieces of eight to place in your treasure chest to pull out and admire whenever you want to. The bad news, of course, is that there won’t be any more. There is the 1993 reunion television film, I guess, but I’m not sure if it is on the horizon or not. I suspect it will only become available as an extra on a complete series release. That certainly fits