Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy "Odd Couple" Day!

Today, November 13, is the day Felix Unger moved in with his old friend Oscar Madison because he had been thrown out of his house by his wife Gloria. This started the whole classic situation comedy, THE ODD COUPLE.

Of course, THE ODD COUPLE started out as a play by Neil Simon. It was then a movie, starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in 1968. From there it became a sit-com, airing from September 1970 until July 1975. Executive Producers were Garry Marshall and Sheldon Keller. Marshall, of course, went on to do HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, Pretty Woman, and various other movie projects. 

Don't believe me about November 13? Check out the opening for the first two seasons. Music is by Neal Hefti, who also did the BATMAN theme.

In case you weren't quick enough: "On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right....but he also knew that someday he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend Oscar Madison. Several years earlier Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

During its run both Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Klugman in 1971 and 1973 and Randall in 1975. When Randall received his award he joked that he "wished he had a job," a reference to the series already having been cancelled.

Also featured for most of the series was Penny Marshall as Oscar's secretary Myrna and Al Molinaro as Murray the Cop. Penny was, of course, Gary's sister, and went on to super-stardom in LAVERNE & SHIRLEY. Al went on to play "Al" on HAPPY DAYS.

The show was never a big hit during its initial broadcasts; it never cracked the top 20 in the ratings. After it had ended, however, it found a new home in syndication and became a huge pop-cultural hit. I would offer that for an entire generation Felix and Oscar represents the archetypes of Clean and Messy. If you have actually never seen the series, you owe it to yourself to try it. Track it down on cable (TVLand or ME TV, etc) or buy one of the later seasons. The first season was not filmed live, so feels more false to me. From season two the series was filmed in front of a live audience, and that makes it more "fun."

Here's a blooper reel introduced by the one and only Jack Klugman. It may not be funny if you aren't familiar with the show....but if you DO know the show, it is hilarious. Klugman put together this blooper reel and included it with his recent book about his days with Tony Randall on the show, Tony And Me, A Story of Friendship. If you like the show, the book is also fun. I got a copy at the library, and heartily recommend it.

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