Two weeks ago, as a Video Fridays installment, I took a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane, writing about a late night lineup of TV reruns that I was fond of in my youth.
- 10:00pm M*A*S*H
- 10:30pm M*A*S*H
- 11:00pm The Odd Couple
- 11:30pm The Honeymooners
- 12:00am Star Trek: The Original Series
- 01:00am The Twilight Zone
In writing that post, I decided to do a separate Video Fridays installment for each of these shows, and I chose The Honeymooners to start off with.
This week, it’s The Odd Couple, and what a fantastic show it was!
That it was based on Neil Simon‘s play and movie of the same name highlights common ground between two of the other shows from the lineup. M*A*S*H was based on the novel by Richard Hooker and the film by Robert Altman of the same name, and Star Trek, created for TV, went the opposite direction, spawning numerous movies and spin-off TV series.
There were SO many things about The Odd Couple that I loved: the basic premise of two mismatched divorced men living together, one an anal-retentive neat freak and the other a manchild slob; the wonderful New York City humor; the groovy 70s clothing and decor; the goofy supporting characters; and consistently great writing over five seasons.
And yet, similar to The Honeymooners, the best things about the show were it’s primary actors, Tony Randall as Felix Unger, and Jack Klugman as Oscar Madison. To fully appreciate these two, consider the monumentally big shoes they had to fill. Neil Simon’s play opened on Broadway with Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney (who, as mentioned two weeks ago, played Ed Norton in The Honeymooners) as Felix, and in the movie Matthau again played Oscar, while Jack Lemmon played Felix.
I never saw the original Broadway show — I was just shy of 3-years old when it closed — and I didn’t see the movie until I had already been watching the TV show for years. So, for me, Jack and Tony are the Oscar and Felix I always think of first, which really is a testament to how well they took over these roles, established as they had already been by other great, great actors.
Of course, the heart of the show is the clash of opposites in the pressure cooker situation of having to share an apartment. And so, as I tried to pick just one episode to include here, I searched for one that really highlighted their domicile. But, this search paralyzed me with indecision, as there are SO many greats to choose from.
Finally, thanks to my longtime buddies from New Jersey, Mike and Keith, mentioned numerous times here at Fish & Bicycles (one case in point), our collective effort yielded the perfect choice!
So, here’s episode 69, the 22nd episode of the 3rd season, it’s titled Take My Furniture, Please, and it revolves around Felix’s efforts to redecorate their apartment, despite Oscar’s protestations, and while Oscar tries to work on a book he’s writing. Naturally, hilarity ensues.
Enjoy, and Happy Weekend, everyone!