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, November 24

    none scheduled

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 23)

    Tuesday, November 24

    • Goldie Hawn (Good Morning World) - Catch Goldie and Kurt Russell on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Adam DeVine (The Righteous Gemstones/Modern Family/Workaholics) - Adam appears on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin is a guest on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
    • Michael J. Fox (Family Ties/Spin City/The Michael J. Fox Show) - Michael chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • The cast of The Unicorn - The cast of The Unicorn are guests on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
    • Paul Scheer (Black Monday/Rob Riggle's Ski Master Academy/Fresh Off the Boat/The League) - Paul will be on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Vanessa Lachey (Dads - Vanessa talks about Lifetime's Once Upon a Main Street on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • John O'Hurley (Seinfeld/The Mullets) - John talks about NBC's The National Dog Show on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, Mario Lopez and the new cast of Saved by the Bell) - Elizabeth, Mario and the new cast of Peacock's Saved by the Bell are guests on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
    • Melissa Joan Hart (No Good Nick/Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains It All) - Melissa talks about her new Christmas movie Dear Christmas on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
    • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo has Thanks + Giving: St. Jude Helping Two Stepsisters in Their Cancer Journey with Marlo in the 9am hour.
    • John Michael Higgins (Saved by the Bell/Great News/Happily Divorced/Kath & Kim) - John talks about Peacock's Saved by the Bell in the 10am hour.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (August/September/October/November)

    Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    08/04 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Eighth Season
    08/04 - The Neighborhood - Season One
    08/11 - Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens - Season 1
    08/11 - Final Space - The First and Second Seasons (Blu-ray)
    09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
    09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
    09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
    09/15 - South Side - Season 1
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
    09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
    10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
    10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
    10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
    10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
    11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
    11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection

    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    11/24 - Catch Last Season's Holiday Sitcom The Moodys Before Season 2; Tiffani Thiessen Hosting Deliciousness, Spin-off of Ridiculousness
    11/23 - ABC Announces Midseason 2021 Scripted Premieres; NBC Announces January and February 2021 Schedule
    11/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 23, 2020)
    11/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Sets Premiere Date for Mr. Mayor; New Version of Name That Tune in the Works at Fox
    11/20 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on Fresh Prince Reunion on HBO Max; Nick at Nite Renews Friends in Multi-Year Deal
    11/19 - PBS to Air A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Christmas; Cybill Shepherd Gets Showtime Comedy Pilot
    11/18 - Hulu Orders Second Season of Woke; HBO Max Gets Conan Variety Series, While Conan Ends on TBS in June 2021
    11/17 - COZI TV Thanksgiving and Christmas Marathons; Stream 65 Full Episodes of The Carol Burnett Show Unedited
    11/16 - Antenna TV Holiday 2020 Stunts and Marathons; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Premieres This Thursday!
    11/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 16, 2020)
    11/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Preview Released; Peacock Launches Saved by the Bell Channel
    11/13 - Fri-Yay: Any Hope Left for Broadcast Sitcom Ratings?; BET Presents CBS Monday Series Tonight; BUZZR Remembers Alex Trebek Tomorrow
    11/12 - CBS Orders New Chuck Lorre Comedy to Series; MeTV and Game Show Network to Remember Alex Trebek
    11/11 - Fox Announces Winter Premiere Dates for New and Returning Series; ABC Announces Early 2021 Unscripted Premiere Dates
    11/10 - ABC Orders Celebrity Wheel of Fortune; Turner Networks Celebrate Thanksgiving to the HBO Max
    11/09 - Remembering Alex Trebek; Decades Changes Schedule in December with The Odd Couple and The Love Boat Added
    11/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 9, 2020)
    11/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Jeopardy GOATS to Return in New Version of The Chase; Holly Robinson Peete Joins American Housewife Cast
    11/06 - Fri-Yay: Superstore Tackles the Pandemic in a Smart, Funny Way; Family Ties Cast to Reunite
    11/05 - Dave Chappelle Returns to SNL for Post Election Episode; Remembering Writer Jeremy Stevens of Everybody Loves Raymond
    11/04 - Showtime's Moonbase 8 Gets Early Release Online; Lark Voorhies to Appear on Peacock's Saved by the Bell
    11/03 - NBC Pulls Connecting... From Lineup; Fox Says The Great North to Air in February
    11/02 - Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas Schedule for 2020; HBO Max Licenses Comedy Central Library in Streaming Deal
    11/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 2, 2020)
    10/31 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fox to Remake British Comedy; Judy Justice Headed to IMDb TV
    10/30 - Fri-Yay: The Best Sitcom Halloween Episodes; CBS All Access Renews No Activity for 4th Season
    10/29 - Even More Ted Lasso on Way at Apple TV+; Craig Robinson to Host The Masked Dancer on Fox
    10/28 - COZI TV Halloween Marathons of The Munsters & Roseanne; Apple TV+ Orders Another Comedy, This Time with Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen
    10/27 - Freeform's The Clock Is Ticking Special with Yara Shahidi; Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Ends on New Year's Eve
    10/26 - TBS Orders 3rd Season of Miracle Workers; SNL Extended to 6 New Episodes in a Row - A Record!
    10/25 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 26, 2020)
    10/24 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Another Addams Family Reboot in the Works?; Quibi Says Goodbye After Six Months