The Odd Couple: Countdown to Premiere

Although The Odd Couple won’t be airing until February 19th, there is still buzz about it and it is getting coverage in the entertainment media. As I count down the days to see whether this new incarnation of the beloved 1970s is a hit or a miss, it’ll be interesting to compare The Odd Couple then and now. The original Odd Couple, based upon the hit Neil Simon play, premiered on ABC in 1970 and ran for five seasons. It was produced by Garry Marshall and starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. There are similarities between the show’s incarnations. Although the show has new producers, Matthew Perry, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly, Garry Marshall is returning as a consultant. There are also similarities in casting; they are relying on casting one star name with a large Q rating and an actor who has worked steadily but may not have solid name recognition. For example, Tony Randall (Felix Unger in the original) was a movie star and had widespread name recognition at the time of his casting in the original series. His co-star Jack Klugman (Oscar Madison) had worked steadily on Broadway and in television, but was not widely known.

In the new series, Matthew Perry is well-known for his role on the sitcom Friends, while his co-star Thomas Lennon has been a familiar face on television in such shows as Reno 9-1-1 and Sean Saves The World, he may not have wide name recognition (as pointed out in a January USA Today article). However, unlike their predecessors, Klugman and Randall had not been involved in high profile flops. Both Perry and Lennon have had their share of primetime failures since appearing on the successful programs that gave them their big break. Perry has had several failures, including NBC’s short-lived Go On (2012-2013) and Lennon flopped just last season with NBC’s Sean Saves the World (2013-2014). Therefore, with recent flops under their belt, it will be interesting if Matthew Perry, in particular, can excise the Friends curse with this revitalized favorite.