41. The Odd Couple (1970-5)

This is the first of five articles I am doing for the TV Count Down now in progress at Wonders in the Dark.

Wonders in the Dark

by John Greco

The Odd Couple was one of those shows that was never a huge hit during its original TV run. For five-seasons it ran on ABC and not once did it crack the Top 20 in the Neilson ratings. However, once the show was cancelled and put in syndication, it became a favorite, still running today on various cable stations and streaming services. The shows two stars made more money once the show went into syndication than they did during the original run.

The show was based on Neil Simon’s hit Broadway play [1] that opened in March of 1965 and ran for more than two years. Walter Matthau played Oscar Madison, the sloppy, gambling sports-writer for The New York Herald with Art Carney as the finicky television news writer, Felix Unger. [2]  The play won numerous Tony Awards including Best Play, Best Actor for Matthau, and Best…

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2 comments on “41. The Odd Couple (1970-5)

  1. Sam Juliano says:

    It is unquestionably one of America’s classic sitcoms. The roots are of course just as famous, and despite the failure of the retread decades later, it is an enterprise that has been revered in all its incarnations dating back to Simon’s play. The chemistry comes down to a neat freak vs a slob. There are innumeral possibilities with the deceit and both Randall and Klugman delivered buffo performances, among the most memorable ever etched on American television. With the mostly sparking scripts, you have a show that pays endless dividends on revisitation. I’ve been meaning to pick up DVDs and will, but my memories of the show are fond and vivid. Fabulous review here John, you’ve done this television landmark full justice.


  2. Rick says:

    It’s what we would call today a “high concept comedy.” I think the first three years are very good and the two stars are fabulous. But–like many TV shows–it overstayed its welcome for me and dropped in quality over the last two seasons. Thanks for the reminder about the Albert Brooks episode!


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