Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CBS Midseason Pilot Review: The Odd Couple - Premieres Thursday, Feb. 19; HBO Renews John Oliver Through 2017

The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple - Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on CBS
Premieres on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Skees

Way back in 1970, television viewers were asked this famous question: "Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?" That question was asked, of course, on the famous Tony Randall and Jack Klugman sitcom, The Odd Couple. The series was based upon the Neil Simon play (and movie) of the same name. The series was never exactly a major hit, but it was successful enough to last for five seasons and became one of the most memorable classic TV series from that era in later years. Now, 45 years later, two new divorced men... but with the same names, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison... are sharing an apartment and seeing if they'll be driving each other crazy.

Cast Details:

Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison
Thomas Lennon as Felix Unger
Lindsay Sloane as Emily
Wendell Pierce as Teddy
Yvette Nicole Brown as Dani

Matthew Perry (Oscar Madison) got his start in sitcoms in the 1990s including Sydney and Home Free, both of which were flops, but then came the one big one in 1994: Friends, where he played the role of Chandler Bing. In more recent years, he has starred in series including Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mr. Sunshine, and Go On.

Thomas Lennon (Felix Unger) is an actor, comedian, and screenwriter (among other things) who made his first appearance on MTV's The State, but is probably best known for his role on the series Reno 911! As a writer, he has been part of many feature films such as Taxi and Night at the Museum, among others. Most recently, he had a recurring role on NBC's Sean Saves the World.

Lindsay Slonae (Emily) got her start by playing the recurring role of Alice Pedermeir on The Wonder Years, but is probably better known for playing the role of Valerie in the first three seasons of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. She later had starring roles in short-lived series such as Grosse Pointe and The Stones, along with guest appearances in several series such as Greg the Bunny, How I Met Your Mother, and Weeds.

Wendell Pierce (Teddy) is best known for his role of Bunk Moreland on The Wire as well as his role on Treme, but he was also a regular on The Gregory Hines Show and just last season on NBC's The Michael J. Fox Show. He has had guest appearances on sitcoms such as Girlfriends and My Wife and Kids.

Yvette Nicole Brown (Dani) is probably best known for her role of Shirley on the NBC (and soon to be Yahoo! Screen, although it will be without her) series Community. She previously starred in the short-lived ABC comedy The Big House and has made numerous guest appearances on series including Malcolm in the Middle, The Office, Family Guy, That '70s Show, and Two and a Half Men, among many others.

Pilot Plot:

Oscar Madison is the happily divorced host of a sports radio show (which he does in his underwear from his own apartment, by the way) and getting along just fine in life... until unexpectedly, his old friend Felix Unger comes knocking at the door. As it turns out, Felix's wife just threw him out of his home and he needs somewhere to stay. Initially, it seems like an idea that would work temporarily, until he realizes how much different Felix's lifestyle is. It seems that the arrangement isn't going to work out, but a little outside intervention from a female neighbor could make things work out for Felix and Oscar after all.

Analysis:

This show quite literally takes the same characters of Oscar and Felix that we knew from 1970 and updates them for 2015... particularly when it comes to the character of Felix. Thomas Lennon has taken the character that Tony Randall played and recreated it almost perfectly for this series. Matthew Perry is a little less convincing as Oscar, as Jack Klugman's Oscar was more of just a slob and Matthew Perry's character seems to be more sex-obsessed, but he's still a slob and believable as Oscar. And I would even go so far as to say that the casting for this series was done pretty well. But the big question remains: will this even work?

This is certainly not the first time that a remake has been made of The Odd Couple. In fact, it is the second... third if you count the animated Oddball Couple. That isn't to mention that the series was a remake of a movie that was the remake of a play. It is understandable why they keep returning to this series (and even series that essentially were The Odd Couple but with different characters, like the 80s series Perfect Strangers), since mismatched roommates is one of the most quintessential themes when it comes to sitcoms.

Part of the problem here is that it is hard to tell who the audience is supposed to be. If it is fans of the original series when that originally aired, then there is the slight issue of those viewers being very old... in fact, a 25 year old (perhaps a younger demographic than that series even attracted) in 1970 would be 70 years old in 2015. I'm sure that isn't the audience that they're going for, which leaves younger audiences of today. But as I watched the pilot, the only way that I was able to relate to the characters was through what I knew about them in the original series. I feel that if a viewer didn't know the original series... and granted, there are some younger fans who have watched the original series... then it would be hard for them to relate to this series.

Even though I sort of did enjoy watching the pilot, one thing that was definitely lacking was the laughs. There wasn't a whole lot to laugh at in the pilot, but that isn't a total disaster as it is hard to pack in the laughs on a pilot. After all, a lot of the energy in a pilot is dedicated to just getting viewers introduced to the characters (even though fans of the original series have already had that introduction). It is hard to really judge how funny a show actually is from the pilot alone, but considering that there was nothing major to laugh at in here, I'm hopeful that future episodes will have more to laugh at.

Conclusion:

I'm not completely sure what to think of this series. I did enjoy the pilot (although it did drag on a bit, but it seems most pilots do anyway), and I think that the series has plenty of potential, with a lot of potential story ideas... and even if they run out, they can even recycle the old episodes from the original series (hopefully most viewers would be too young to notice). But that is also where the problem comes in. This series is a remake of an older series, and truth be told, there have been few (if any) successful remakes of sitcoms with a new cast.

The original series was never really a hit in the ratings, but did manage to coast along for five seasons. It is a lot harder for a series to be marginally successful on broadcast television in the current era, particularly on a network like CBS, and because of that, I can't say that I see this lasting too long. It will get a lot of initial attention since CBS seems to be heavily promoting this, and it also doesn't hurt that it is receiving the most coveted comedy time slot on the CBS lineup. But I think it will be an uphill battle to sustain the audience of The Big Bang Theory and actually bring in new viewers.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Odd Couple Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

    HBO has renewed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver for its third and fourth seasons. Consisting of 35 shows apiece, season three will run on HBO in 2016, to be followed by season four in 2017. Presenting a satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events, as well as addressing broader issues, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned for its 35-episode second season Feb. 8, debuting new shows Sunday night (11:00-11:30pm ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. The show is the only weekly news-oriented comedy series to be presented on Sunday night. Taped in New York a few hours before it debuts on HBO, the show features a mix of Oliver's topical commentary on the previous week's events, pre-taped pieces and occasional guests.

    In the first season, which concluded last November, Oliver covered a wide range of topics, from net neutrality and Uganda's anti-LGBT laws, to Miss America, climate change and civil forfeiture abuse by the police.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Tuesday, January 23

    The Middle - "Meet the Parents" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Frankie is stoked when Axl invites her and Mike to meet and have dinner with girlfriend Lexie’s rich parents, Tammy (Lisa Rinna) and Bennett. But Frankie is worried that their less then luxurious lifestyle may put a damper on their meeting. Meanwhile, Brick is excited to be a part of the Sophomore Slammer fundraiser, in which fellow classmates fake arrest each other and friends come to pay money – which will go to charity – to bail them out. But Brick soon discovers that no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t get arrested.

    Fresh Off the Boat - "B as in Best Friends" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Still homeless, the Huangs move in with Honey and Marvin. Jessica’s dreams come true when she gets a chance to compete on “Wheel of Fortune” during Best Friends Week with Honey. Eddie starts high school and is still on the outs with his pals but finds unexpected sympathy from Nicole. Michael Bolton offers to step in at the restaurant to give Louis more time with his family, but does he have an ulterior motive?

    black-ish - "First and Last" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Diane experiences a big life event toward becoming a woman and Bow, Ruby, Zoey and Alicia are there to support her. Meanwhile, afraid that he may never be able to beat Junior at basketball again, Dre conducts psychological warfare on Junior before challenging him to a game.

    Modern Family - "Ten Years Later" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Claire is determined to make up for her less-than-joyful mood at Jay and Gloria’s wedding by throwing their tenth-anniversary party. As part of the festivities, Phil is going to perform a magic trick featuring Gloria appearing out of thin air in her wedding dress; that is if Gloria can still get into it!

    LA to Vegas - "The Affair" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Ronnie thinks about exposing a regular passenger when she realizes that he may be cheating on his wife; Capt. Dave becomes interested in an air traffic controller; the passengers are overly enthused by the new credit card scanners.

    The Mick - "The Dump" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    While Mickey and Alba chaperone Ben's field trip to a local dump, they find an unfamiliar young boy who snuck onto the bus on the trip back home; Chip and Sabrina's plan to benefit from Colonel's veteran status soon goes awry.

    Baskets - "Wild Horses" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Chip learns how to transfer a call.

    K.C. Undercover - "Cassandra Undercover" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    A high-school math whiz trains to be an undercover spy.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 22)

    Tuesday, January 23

    • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Catch Sarah on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek/Greg the Bunny/Hiller and Diller) - Eugene is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Ross Lynch (Austin & Ally) - Ross appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Kathy Bates (Disjointed) - Kathy visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Louie Anderson (Baskets/The Louie Show/Life with Louie) - Louie stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Jason is a guest on Desus & Mero at 11pm on Viceland.
    • Max Greenfield (New Girl/Modern Men) - Max chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • David Duchovny (Californication) - David talks about The X-Files on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie) - Susan stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • AnnaLynne McCord (Let's Get Physical) - AnnaLynne talks about Pop's Let's Get Physical on Steve, so check your local listings.
    • Sean Giambrone (The Goldbergs) - Sean is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Dylan McDermott (LA to Vegas) - Dylan cooks with Clinton Kelly on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. He will also be on the BUILD Series at 12pm.
    • The Cast of Schitt's Creek - Daniel Levy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Annie Murphy and Emily Hampshire are guests on the BUILD Series at 11am.
    • Derek Waters (Married to the Kellys) - Derek appears on the BUILD Series at 2pm.
    • The Cast of Let's Get Physical - Jane Seymour, Matt Jones, AnnaLynne McCord and Chris Diamantopoulos are guests on the BUILD Series at 3pm.


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    12/05 - South Park - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
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