T.V. Sets: Christmas Treats [DVD]

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"Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?" This is question posed in the first episode of the first season of The Odd Couple--and though the answer is an emphatic "No!", mismatched roommates Felix Unger (Tony Randall) and Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman) will manage to remain friends, and under the same roof, for the next five years. Unlike the 1965 play and 1968 movie version, which began as Felix moved in with Oscar, the TV version finds the two divorced buddies already dwelling in the same New York apartment--which during Season One is a fairly exact replica of the set used in the the movie. In fact, the fifth episode, "The Breakup", is a virtual replay of the play and movie's third act--and one of the few times that the TV show and its antecedents bore any sort of a close resemblance beyond the basic characters, premise and theme music. Appearing during Season One only are Monica Evans and Carole Shelley, reprising their stage and screen roles as Felix and Oscar's toothsome neighbors, Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon; and Ryan McDonald as Oscar's accountant and poker-playing buddy Roy. Introduced this season in the episode "Lovers Don't Make Housecalls" is Joan Hotchkis as Oscar's girlfriend Dr. Nancy Cunningham, who will continue making sporadic appearances until the middle of Season Two. Other supporting players of note include a young Albert Brooks, a post-Addams Family John Astin, and child actor Clint Howard (Ron's brother). And in "Bunny is Missing Down by the Lake", Pamelyn Ferdin, later cast as Felix's daughter Edna, is seen in a different role. Finally, we are treated to the series' first flashback episode, "The Jury Story", which explains how compulsive slob Oscar and nitpicky neat-freak Felix became best friends in the first place. Throughout its first season, The Odd Couple was lensed in "movie" fashion, with a single camera on a Hollywood sound stage, and with a recorded laughtrack added in post-production. All this would change--for the better--when the series entered its second season in the fall of 1971. ~ Hal Erickson

Cast & Crew

  • Tony Randall - Felix Unger
  • Jack Klugman - Oscar Madison
  • Al Molinaro - Murray Greshner
  • Larry Gelman - Vinnie
  • Brett Somers - Blanche Madison

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