Appellate Judge Tom Becker once shared an apartment with two divorced men. He drove them both crazy.
Our reviews of Fan Favorites: The Best of the Odd Couple (published March 8th, 2012), The Odd Couple: The First Season (published September 27th, 2006), The Odd Couple: Centennial Collection (published March 24th, 2009), and The Odd Couple: The Second Season (published August 21st, 2007) are also available.
Felix: "I really came in like the Lone Ranger at the last minute and saved the day."
Oscar: "You sure did."
Felix: "You know, I dream of doing that. I dream of winning the game at the last minute with a touchdown, hitting a home run in the last second. What do you dream about?"
Oscar: "Living alone."
Felix: "All I can say, Oscar, is you and I have different tastes. I like caviar, you like tuna. I like champagne, you like beer. I like beef Bourgogne, you like beef jerky."
And that, quite simply, sums up The Odd Couple.
Tony Randall and Jack Klugman return for a third season as neat-freak photographer Felix ("Portraits a specialty") Unger and sloppy sportswriter Oscar ("C'mon, will ya!") Madison, taking on the world—and each other—in 1970s New York City.
Facts of the Case
They're two divorced men. They cannot share an apartment without driving each other crazy.
This set contains all 23 episodes from the 1972-73 season.
In its five-year run, The Odd Couple never deviated from its formula: sharp, funny writing built around the interactions of two familiar, well-played characters. Supporting characters came (Penny Marshall as Myrna Turner, Oscar's klutzy secretary) and went (Joan Hotchkis as Dr. Nancy Cunningham, Oscar's second season love interest), but Randall and Klugman were constants. In a show built around a schticky premise, they continued to find new ways to wring laughs. And they made it look so easy.
The show was never hamstrung by behind-the-scenes tension or salary disputes that sidelined other programs of that era, such as All in the Family, Good Times, and Sanford and Son. Aside from some "of the moment" guest stars such as Howard Cosell and Monty Hall, there were no "very special episodes"—no heavy, issue-oriented screeds to bog things down. The Odd Couple exists to make us laugh, and it consistently succeeds.
In Season Three, Dr. Cunningham is gone, and Oscar is back on the dating scene. Felix is still pining for his ex-wife, Gloria, but also dates the wholesome Miriam Welby (Elinor Donahue, whose character name is a TV trivia joke: Donahue was famous for playing Robert Young's daughter on Father Knows Best; years later, Young played Marcus Welby, M.D.). Murray the Cop (Al Molinaro, Happy Days), dense of brain and large of nose, spends so much time visiting that he might as well move in—which he does, in the last episode of the season. If this were post-'80s TV, it would have been a cliffhanger—Will Murray ever move out? Will the show become The Odd Trio?—but back in the day, no one expected the audience to spend the summer fretting about such things.
In addition to Cosell and Hall, Jean Simmons guest starred as a princess who dates Oscar (an episode that works far better than it should, even though it contains one truly tasteless bit of business), and Allen Ludden and Betty White show up as themselves in the classic "Password" episode ("Aristophanes!"). Brett Somers, Klugman's real-life wife at the time, shows up in only one episode, "The Odd Couples," and she makes it memorable. Klugman won his second Emmy for this season; Randall would finally win for the last season, famously quipping in his acceptance speech, "I wish I had a job."
The picture and audio are decent for a more-than-30-year old series, though not as clear and sharp as the second season set. Some episodes definitely look and sound better than others. "The Murray Who Came to Dinner," for instance, is quite ragged in the sound and picture departments. I wonder how much effort Paramount put into cleaning up season three.
Then there's that pesky notation on the back of the box about the possibility of some episodes having been "edited from their original network versions" and music changes. In the previous set, there was a minor music change. In this set, it seems that a few episodes have been altered, not drastically, but enough to notice the odd cut here and there. Whether cuts were made because of music rights or if these were the syndicated episodes, I don't know. Unless you're a purist, you probably won't notice, and I didn't see anything that was too distracting.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This being a Paramount release of a classic sitcom, there are no extras on the set. While this is not going to interfere with anyone's enjoyment of the episodes, it's still unfortunate. Randall and Klugman parlayed their roles into a lifelong friendship and permanent association with the characters. Their natural rapport and mutual affection helped elevate The Odd Couple to classic status and made Randall and Klugman popular on the talk-show circuit and as the subject of magazine articles—they were even "feted" in one of those awful Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts on a rival network.
I can't imagine it would be too difficult to find some clips, pictures, and other material—these guys were still working together well into their 70s—but apparently, the folks at Paramount thought otherwise and came up with a goose egg. So, as a service to DVD Verdict readers, I'm providing a few extras. I took a quick spin around the 'net and pulled some articles and clips, including Randall and Klugman's (separate) appearances on Password, a commercial they did together in the late '70s, an Odd Couple trivia page, and so on. They're all listed in the sidebar under "Accomplices."
Don't thank me. Your pleasure is my pleasure.
The Odd Couple is a rare show that never wore out its welcome or became hackneyed. As fresh and funny in its third season as in its first, it remains one of the best laugh-out-loud comedies to ever grace television.
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