TV Recap: The Odd Couple, Series Premiere

THE ODD COUPLE

Odd Couple Pilot Plot:

After being kicked out of their houses by their wives, two friends try to share an apartment, but their ideas of housekeeping and lifestyles are as different as night and day.

The tough thing about the new Odd Couple is that the sitcom seems to have moved on since the original Odd Couple. The original was such a classic that everyone replicated and built upon the idea. So it’s hard for the 2015 reboot to have that much comedic weight. After all, comedy has to be surprising and there are little surprises here.

To prepare for watch this version of the Odd Couple, I did watch the original pilot from 1970 and there were a fair amount of similarities. Besides obviously having the same characters, both episodes had more or less the same plot. The men are trying to live with each other and do it rather poorly; and they have two events — a poker night and a date night. Unfortunately the ’70s pilot had a couple of things that the modern remake is clearly missing.

In the original pilot, there is a necessary conflict. The guys have to chose whether to screw their friends over and spend time with the girls or to forget about the cute English neighbors to continue poker night. This is the central issue of the episode, and the characters are able to play with it beautifully. You see every side of it. On the new Odd Couple, they just do both. Felix (Thomas Lennon) cancels poker night by accident and they are able to have the date. You never see the fighting that makes sitcoms fun. Much like the very well off Oscar in general, they get both things and that is not fun for the audience. They need to have to choose.

I gotta give it to them, the writing is pretty sharp and skillful. Honestly it feels like watching a pretty good play. The actors have an excellent amount of chemistry and they really bounce off of each other. It almost makes up for the rest of the show’s shortcomings. Almost.

Matthew Perry plays a good enough cool guy. He’s had plenty of practice. Besides Friends he had the good but not successful Go On, where he played roughly the same character. He was a sports radio personality who had bad luck with people because he was an overall jerk. That show was able to make the character interesting because his wife was killed and he had to deal with that. It showed a more interesting character than The Odd Couple has to offer. That’s not a great start.

The real issue is that Oscar’s counterpart Felix just isn’t very likeable. Don’t get me wrong. I love Tom Lennon. I have watched all of Reno 911 and even watched Sean Saves the World once because of him. (And that show was awful, although it wasn’t his fault.) But Lennon’s Felix is at the heart of the main issue with the show and no, I’m not talking about his weird Robin Williams impression. I’m talking about balance.

Balance is what The Odd Couple is desperately missing. In the original pilot, Felix (Tony Randall) was much more likeable. He wanted to keep the poker game going, partially because he was useless with women, but partially because he was looking out for his friends. Oscar (Jack Klugman)  was actually in the wrong for wanting to ruin the night for his buddies.

In the new Odd Couple, Felix is just a loser. He ruins poker night. He ruins the double date. He ruins everything that cool relatable Oscar is trying to do. You’re never rooting for Felix. You kind of hope he gets lost. What the show needs is more genuine moments when Felix is the one you’re rooting for to establish more balance.

The other big problem is there have just been too many Odd Couples that did it better. Modern Family has a gay Odd Couple. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had the African American Odd Couple. Come on CBS. You do realize you ended Two and a Half Men on the same night as you started this show, right? That was an Odd Couple! One is good with women and messy, and they other is clean and uptight. At least that had a kid to make it something different and worth watching. This Odd Couple has nothing new besides the fanciest set I have ever seen and some generally wasted talent.

Rating: 3 out of 10

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Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Aside from weekly Flash reviews, he writes about film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He loves U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. He can also occasionally be found writing lists on Topless Robot and his twitter handle is @NationofNando
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Matthew Nando Kelly is the cool and tough Managing Editor of Pop Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he makes pop culture brackets with fellow writer DJ Chapman.