Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Odd Couple - The Third Season

Written by Hombre Divertido

From a hit Broadway play, to a hit motion picture, to a hit television series, Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple has transcended major forms of entertainment and remains an endearing classic in all forms.

Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson brought the television show to television, and had many episodes directed by Jerry Paris who would later work with Marshall on Happy Days and on bringing another odd couple to television in the form of Laverne and Shirley.

Many televisions shows would follow with the premise of combining two characters that were fundamentally opposite, but few would have the success of The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman as the sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison, and Tony Randal the incredibly tidy photographer Felix Unger.

The premise was still quite fresh in season three, and subsequently yields a lot of fun in the twenty-three episodes due out on DVD January 22nd. Klugman and Randal provide award-winning performances with chemistry that is an obvious reflection of their talent as actors, but also of their friendship off camera, which Klugman wrote about in his 2005 memoir, Tony And Me: A Story of Friendship.

The characterizations were allowed to go beyond the simple aspect of clean and dirty, but delve into different upbringings and education throughout this series, and that is what allowed it to last five seasons, and remain enjoyable still today.

During this season we get to watch our team appear on two popular game shows of the era, take a few trips, redecorate, fall in love with the same woman, and take in a few other roommates.

Wonderful supporting characters and guest stars throughout this season surrounded Klugman and Randal. Any appearance by a young Penny Marshall as Madison’s secretary was a treat, and Al Molinaro, who would later play Al on Happy Days, as the couple’s good friend and timid policeman Murray Greshler could always be counted on for a good laugh. Guest appearances by Howard Cosell, Deacon Jones, Wally Cox, Brett Somers (Klugman’s wife), Betty White, and game show hosts Allen Ludden and Monty Hall make this set well worth owning as well.

Unfortunately no extras in the set, and the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. We should not have to move the DVDs to read the synopsis of each episode.

Recommendation: This is wonderfully written classic comedy performed by two masters of the craft. Fun for the whole family that can be watched again and again.

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