February 26, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “The Odd Couple”


THE ODD COUPLE:  Thursday 8:30PM on CBS

Previously… on THE ODD COUPLE:  You know the drill.  Oscar Madison (Matthew Perry) is an emotionally superficial slob sportswriter, his old friend Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon) is a neurotic neat freak photographer, Oscar’s a longtime divorcee, Felix’s marriage is just breaking up, Oscar invites him to move in, and amidst some poker-playing friends (Wendell Pierce, Dave Foley) and hot neighbors (Leslie Bibb, Lindsay Sloane), there is an inexhaustible amount of bickering.

EPISODE 2:  The second half-hour of this new Odd Couple downplayed the slovenly/neat aspect of the Oscar/Felix relationship, and instead emphasized another fundamental piece:  Felix’s desire to bond with the emotional problems of anyone he comes across, while Oscar would really prefer that he didn’t.  It’s a motif that goes all the way back to the Pigeon sisters in Neil Simon’s original play, and in the episode, written by Co-Executive Producer Leslie Wake Webster and directed by Phill Lewis, the focal points were a football player (guest star Geoff Stults) for whom Oscar was supposed to be ghost-writing an autobiography, and Emily (Lindsey Sloane, who somewhat confusingly is a regular even though Leslie Bibb, who played her sister in the pilot and who was a neighbor of Oscar’s, is not), who’s had to put aside her jewelry designing business to earn some money by tending bar.  In the course of the half-hour, Felix puts the athlete in touch with his inner poet, much to Oscar’s chagrin, while eventually setting things up for Emily to sell her wares in Oscar’s apartment.

It was efficient enough as a piece of multicamera sitcom craft, with appearances by Oscar’s agent (Wendell Pierce) and assistant (Yvette Nicole Brown), as well as another of Oscar’s pals (guest star Dave Foley) for some variety, except for the fact that nothing about it was remotely funny.  The situations were trite enough as it was, but the show’s fundamental miscasting is even clearer now that the series is past its premise pilot.  Matthew Perry mostly seems bored (as well he should be, although he co-developed this series for himself ), able to rouse his Oscar to little more than mild irritation, and Thomas Lennon’s Felix cultivates a serenity that in this context is the opposite of funny.  With no chemistry between the two leads, the episode leaned heavily on Stults, Sloane, Perry and Brown, but none of their material had any freshness either.  Despite the occasional punchline to remind viewers this is the 21st century (Oscar referred to Chris Rock in a jibe aimed at his agent), this Odd Couple feels like it was put in a microwave after having been frozen for several decades.

CBS gave The Odd Couple royal treatment by placing its premiere between a new episode of Big Bang Theory and the series finale of 2 1/2 Men, and it rated well.  Now, though, it will have a Big Bang rerun as its lead-out, which may make things tougher.  It’s hard to imagine much of an audience under 50 being attracted by any element of the series, and so far its quality is flat at best.  There may still be life in The Odd Couple, but you’d hardly know it from this incarnation.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  Time For A Divorce


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."