Two divorced New Yorkers---a slob and a fussbudget---try to live together `without driving each other crazy' in this classic sitcom based on Neil Simon's hit play and movie. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall won Emmys in the leads, the latter in the final year of a five-season run. `Now if I only had a job,' Randall said at the Emmy gala. The show inspired two remakes, one an animated series portraying the main characters as a cat and a dog, and a 1982-83 version with a mostly black cast.
In The Odd Couple
's third, and best yet, season, coarse and crude sportswriter Oscar Madison is dubbed--by a princess, no less--as "Sir Oscar, Nicest of the Nice Guys." His roommate, best friend, and consummate pest, Felix Unger, tells him at one humbling point, "Oscar, you're well above average." Exploring Oscar's softer side no doubt helped earn Jack Klugman an Emmy Award for this season, but rest assured, not all of Oscar's edges have been smoothed out. He's still a slob, his room is still a disaster area, and he is still quick to erupt, which is understandable. As obsessive and overbearing Felix (Tony Randall) himself states, "I drive everybody crazy. I never learn my lesson." In one of the series' most fondly remembered episodes, "My Strife in Court" (also known as the "Never Assume" episode), Felix humiliates Oscar in court after he gets them both arrested for scalping theatre tickets. In another fan favorite, "Password," Oscar and Felix are a washout on the classic game show, thanks to Felix's arcane clues ("Aristophanes" for the password "bird"). In "Gloria, Hallelujah," jealous Felix goes to great lengths to prove he's not when Oscar is matched with Felix's ex-wife, Gloria (Janis Hansen), for a computer date. All of which helps make the episode "I Gotta Be Me" so much fun, as the constantly bickering duo try their hand at role reversal with Oscar kvetching and fussing, and Felix trashing a dinner party with beer and cheap cigars. In the third season, Penny Marshall (brother Garry wrote several episodes), as Oscar's secretary, Myrna, and Al Molinaro as hangdog cop, Murray, are given more prominent roles. In some odd stunt casting, Monty Hall guest stars as himself in the episode "Let's Make a Deal," and Howard Cosell proves to be an excellent foil for Oscar and Felix in "Big Mouth." Bret Sommers, the former Mrs. Klugman, makes a welcome return as Oscar's dread ex-wife, Blanche in "The Odd Couples," in which Oscar and Blanche must pretend they are still married for the benefit of Oscar's tradition-bound mother. Elinor Donahue (whose TV Land resume includes Father Knows Best
and The Andy Griffith Show
) debuts as Felix's girlfriend, Miriam. With a live studio audience to cheer the actors on, this season provides several show-stopping moments, from Felix and Murray performing a little Gilbert & Sullivan in "Gloria, Hallelujah" to Myrna's spectacular tap dance in "Myrna's Debut." --Donald Liebenson