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In the fall of 1970, two Neil Simon adaptations premiered on ABC, "The Odd Couple" and "Barefoot in the Park." Both were based, of course, on hit plays and the hit films adapted from those plays. "Odd Couple," thanks primarily to the solid chemistry of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman in the leads, caught on immediately and went on to a successful four-year run. "Barefoot in the Park" wasn't so fortunate. One of the first all-black TV shows on a major network, it always suffered from just a tinge of blaxploitation as far as the situations and characters were concerned. The whole cast, including leads Scoey Mitchell and Tracy Reed and the always funny Thelma Carpenter and Nipsy Russell, tried their best, but just couldn't overcome a succession of weak scripts. As I recall, the show was canceled mid-season.
I watched this show when I was in grade school, but I don't remember laughing at it much. When I saw it in reruns a few years later, I understood why. It would appear that Simon's touch was not on this series like it was on The Odd Couple. The sparkling dialogue is just not there, and the show looks no different from other domestic comedies that were on during that time.
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