ByCraig Whyel, writer at
Film & TV news, previews and commentary
Craig Whyel

Oh, no. Not again.

In its original form, The Odd Couple was a 1965 blockbuster play by Neil Simon. It is the story of Felix Unger an effete, neatness freak of a middle-age man whose wife kicks him out of the house. He moves in the apartment of a divorced friend, a slob named Oscar Madison. They proceed to drive each other crazy.

The success of the play spawn a 1968 film version then a 1973 TV version (which ran for five seasons), a 1975 cartoon and 1982 TV reboot with African-American leads. During its many stage revivals, there was a version with females in the lead roles.

So now, Matthew Perry, who soared to success in Friends, then appeared in several shows that failed, and his creative partner, Danny Jacobson, had the notion to bring the show back again. After several years of near-starts, the concept was picked up by CBS network in late 2013.

Perry plays Oscar Madison while Jimmy Lennon, formerly of Reno 911 fame, plays Oscar Madison.

One of the reasons I feel the show will fail is because it is too familiar. It has been rebooted to oblivion.

Plus, it will struggle to maintain an audience. While it’s time slot of Thursday evening following The Big Bang Theory will offer it one heck of a lead-in, it’s doubtful they’ll hold on to that for two reasons.

First, The Big Bang Theory’s incredible ratings are strong amongst all demographics by age groups. It is strongest with younger viewers. I doubt those young people will stick around for a show about the foibles of two guys in their forties.

Beyond that, I don’t see an audience of older viewers stick around or tuning in for the simple reason that the concept has been done to death. It will be a little too familiar.

Over the decades, Neil Simon has enjoyed tremendous success in the theatre, on TV and in film.

I don’t know what the staff of the newest reboot can do to fresh up such an old, tired concept.

Don’t get me wrong, I love The Odd Couple. During my graduate school days, I played Oscar Madison in a local production of the play. Even then, over twenty years ago, it was funny but a bit played out.

The idea of two men moving in together is no longer an oddity. The notion of former spouses being stay-at-home mothers to nearly-grown children is antiquated.

In American TV and film, the notion of people with advancing age is considered a bit touchy. No one wants to think of the problems that are in the domain of getting old. That’s why the majority of people with gray hair and wrinkles are often relented to smaller roles in sitcoms and dramas.

In the final analysis, I predict the newest version of this show might enjoy an early bump in ratings from their time slot lead in before things fall apart, as Ernest Hemingway wrote, gradually then suddenly.


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