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TV Series Review

We've seen some strange pairings in our day: Churchill and Stalin, Nixon and Elvis, Julie Andrews and Lady Gaga. But few are as odd as that of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, two recent divorcees now sharing an apartment in New York City.

Technically, it's Oscar's apartment. You can tell because of the lingering stench of cigars, pepperoni pizza and sweaty hockey jerseys that's seeped into the walls. A sports radio talk show host, Oscar adheres to the adage of "letting it all hang out," extending that maxim even to dirty underwear on the living room floor.

'Course, ever since Felix moved in, said underwear has been safely corralled in Oscar's laundry hamper. Felix can't abide mess—somewhat ironic given the wreck his own life is at the moment. But since he can't do much about that right now, he's determined to clean up everything he can. And that includes his old pal Oscar—whether Oscar wants him to or not.

CBS' The Odd Couple is an update of the classic 1965 Neil Simon Broadway play, a subsequent 1968 movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and the 1970-75 television show on ABC. The original program propelled both Tony Randall and Jack Klugman to stardom and earned them both Emmys.

This reboot is perhaps not shooting for Emmys as much as filling an empty slot in the schedule. While it features a bona fide star in Friends alum Matthew Perry, it feels more like recently departed sitcom Two and a Half Men (which was also allegedly inspired by the original Odd Couple) than its half-century-old namesakes.

Granted, it's not nearly as crass as Two and a Half Men—at least early on. Still, we've seen a lot of television envelope-pushing since the 1970s, and what would send audiences from 1975 into a congressman-writing frenzy feels pretty standard today. Allusions to sex are common. And Felix's sexuality is now fully fair game. The language is filthy enough to warrant us dumping it in Oscar's rumored hamper right along with the underwear. Oscar, Felix and everyone else who stops by drink wine and beer.

Life lessons lurking in their NYC war zone? Well, Felix and Oscar are both smarting from their divorces, and each has something to offer the other: Felix could stand to mellow out a little, and Oscar could use a little discipline and honesty in his life. And we learn right away in the pilot that all the sex and bad behavior we hear about covers up deeper problems. Felix accuses Oscar of "marinating in sex and booze and filth because he can't admit how much he misses his wife," which is true.

But for those who remember the old Odd Couple fondly, this new iteration is still bound to be more irritation than inspiration.


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Episode Reviews

Odd-Couple: 2-19-2015
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