Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Classic TV: The Odd Couple (1970)

Neil Simon's The Odd Couple started as a Broadway production, and then was adapted into a feature film in 1968, with Walter Matthau reprising his stage role as Oscar Madison, opposite Jack Lemmon as Felix Unger. The success of the movie prompted Paramount to ask Simon if they could adapt it again, this time for television.

In 1970, The Odd Couple debuted on ABC, and would remain for five seasons before beginning a much more fruitful run in syndication. Tony Randall was cast as Felix, a neatnik who worked as a photographer. Jack Klugman, who had been Matthau's understudy on Broadway, was a slam dunk pick, then, as Oscar, a sportswriter who wasn't exactly a candidate for the Good Housekeeping Seal, if you get my drift. Both men had been divorced from their wives and now shared an apartment in New York.

If anything, the show was on the pulsebeat of pop culture, such that there was a crossover with the game show, Password, which both actors had appeared on separately during that franchise's run. In one instance, Klugman's then-wife, Brett Somers, who had a recurring role on Couple, spent a week playing Password opposite Klugman. In the aftermath of the infamous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis exhibition, which, coincidentally, also aired on ABC, the participants of said match, Billie Jean King & Bobby Riggs, guested as themselves. Riggs, you might say, felt so natural in front of the cameras, such that he might've missed his true calling.

Retrorebirth provides us with the 2nd season intro. Narrator Bill Woodson is better known to cartoon fans of a certain generation for his work on shows such as Battle of the Planets & Super Friends.

In memory of Jack Klugman, who passed away on Monday.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

I grew up watchig the syndicated reruns of the show on WPIX.

It's still a funny show and Klugman and Randall were such great foils for one another. Sure Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau originated the roles in the film and the stage, but Randall & Klugman seemed to do a better job somehow!

hobbyfan said...

Largely because the movie hasn't been seen as often over the years. In fact, the film turns 45 next year.

Now, Klugman & Randall are back together in show biz heaven.....