A greasy-spoon diner in Phoenix, Arizona is the setting for this long-running series. The title character, Alice Hyatt, is an aspiring singer who arrives in Phoenix with her teenaged son, ... See full summary »
One is neat, one is a slob. Both are divorced and need a place to stay. That's how fussy photographer Felix Unger and sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison end up sharing a New York City apartment. The arguments are endless but funny; it's like watching your parents fight. Written by
Many of Felix and Oscar's personal interests were drawn from those of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. For example, Randall was an aficionado of opera and classical music, which was incorporated into Felix. Likewise, Klugman was an avid horse-racing fan, which Oscar was portrayed to be as well. See more »
In the opening credits for the entire series, the type of luggage Felix is carrying changes.
When he is indoors (leaving his apartment or arriving at Oscar's) he is carrying a white suitcase. But when he is walking outside he is not carrying the white suitcase. See more »
Before A&E and L&O, there was Channel 11 and The Odd Couple
These days, it's common for a network to milk every dime of the syndication rights for a series, but the first time it was done in today's over-the-top fashion was when Channel 11 in New York began airing Odd Couple reruns four times a day, twice in the afternoon, and twice again in the evening. The show ran just long enough for this to be possible, and any kid in New York, especially one who didn't have cable, couldn't help but watch at least some of the time.
Odd Couple reruns were a refreshing change of pace from Brady Bunch reruns, with their suburban amenities, like grass, driveways, and bedrooms bigger than closets. Sure, there were The Honeymooners, but they lived in Brooklyn in the 1950s, and there was I Love Lucy, but they were the old neighbors you avoided in the hallways. Felix and Oscar, however, were guys who were either like your dad, your dad's friends, or one of your cousins or uncles. They were regular New Yorkers living regular lives. Kids in New York who wanted someone to relate to and to experience the city got a double dose of the Big Apple and then some through this show.
What made this show work even more than the personality clash was the culture clash. Those who trash the celebrity cameos miss their purpose. Oscar's world was as alien to Felix as his was to Oscar. Scenes like Felix and Bubba Smith discussing interior decorating, or Oscar learning ballet exercises from Edward Vilella, are what really defined the show. Each character understood the other's place in his world, but could never fully respect or understand the world. This is why we got Oscar as a theater critic and Felix in the booth on Monday Night Football.
We also got two lead characters escaping bad marriages only to find themselves in a worse marriage, not to each other, but to the ever-elusive affordable Manhattan apartment with a roommate who isn't too far off the deep end. The need to preserve one's living arrangements drives Manhattanites to tolerate Odd Couple-style antics, lest we have to pay the entire rent or risk an unknown quantity as a roommate.
For me, as a kid watching the reruns (I never caught the series during its run) was a New York experience all its own, a chance to "see" my own city in all its quirky glory, comedically encapsulated by two of the great talents of that era. We got hot dogs eaten on the run, cabs hailed in rainstorms, subways getting stuck, poker games, off-track betting, and a measure of culture through Felix that I never would have been exposed to otherwise.
This show effortlessly achieved a level of performance on a weekly basis that few of today's shows can match even on their best nights. This may have been a product of the three-network era when talent and ratings were not so diluted, but it's also a product of a quality standard that seems sorely lacking today. There were some mediocre episodes on this show, but very few bad ones, many good ones, and a lot of great ones.
I'll end with some trivia notes: Klugman really lived at 1049 Park Avenue (he often played horses at the OTB parlors on the East Side), and Tony Randall actually lived at 145 Central Park West. Talk about hiding in plain sight!! This was also one of the few shows ever to use a phone number for one of the characters that did not begin with 555.
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