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

    Friday, May 27

    none scheduled

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 23)

    Friday, May 27

    • Josh Charles (Sports Night) - Watch Josh on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) - Miley appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Jenna Fischer (The Office/Splitting Up Together) and Angela Kinsey (The Office/The Hotwives of Orlando) - Jenna and Angela talk about their new book, The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There, on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • David Arquette (In Case of Emergency/Double Rush/Parenthood) - David appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Queen Latifah chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Courteney Cox (Shining Vale/Cougar Town/Friends/Family Ties) - Courteney is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Mayim Bialik (Call Me Kat/The Big Bang Theory/Blossom/Molloy) - Mayim appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Cedric the Entertainer (The Neighborhood/The Last O.G./The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric is a guest on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jennifer Grey (Red Oaks/It's Like, You Know...) - Jennifer talks about her new memoir, Out of the Corner: A Memoir, on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Glen Powell (Scream Queens) - Glen talks about Top Gun: Maverick on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (February-May)

    ALT= Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release) Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)

    02/08 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Ninth Season
    02/22 - Everybody Hates Chris - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    02/22 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Eight
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/15 - Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season
    03/15 - The Proud Family - The Complete Original Series - Anniversary Collection
    03/22 - The Honeymooners Specials - The Complete Collection
    03/29 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/29 - Young Rock - Season One
    04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
    04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
    05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
    05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    05/26 - Seinfeld Joins Nick at Nite on Memorial Day; New Netflix Series Tops Weekly Chart
    05/25 - Black Comedy Revolution Doc to Air on A&E; MTV Movie & TV Awards to Air on Multiple Nets
    05/24 - Abbott Elementary Star to Host ABC Game Show; Amazon Orders The Hospital
    05/23 - Seth MacFarlane's Peacock Comedy Series Ted Rounds Out Cast; Twisted Metal Comedy Series in the Works
    05/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 23, 2022)
    05/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fall Broadcast Network Lineups Out; The CW Looking to Get Back Into Sitcom Business
    05/20 - HBO Renews Barry for Season 4; Apple TV+ Comedy Trying Returns in July; Remembering Maggie Peterson of The Andy Griffith Show
    05/19 - The CW Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Rick and Morty Returns as Anime on Adult Swim
    05/18 - CBS Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Turner Upfront Updates
    05/17 - ABC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Pete Davidson Comedy Adds Edie Falco
    05/16 - NBC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Fox Upfront 2022-23: Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch Renewed, Adds Two New Animated Comedies and Three New Dramas
    05/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 16, 2022)
    05/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Looking at Fall Renewals and Cancellations; Married... with Children Animated Reboot in the Works
    05/13 - NBC Renews 3 Sitcoms, Cancels 2; CBS and The CW Hand Out Orders & Pink Slips; Remembering Mike Hagerty and Sitcom Producer/Writer George Yanok
    05/12 - NBC Orders Lopez vs. Lopez Sitcom for 2022-23 Season; Amazon Renews Upload for Season 3
    05/11 - Disney's Bunk'd Returns June 10 for Season 6; Paramount+ to Be Exclusive SVOD Home of Ghosts
    05/10 - MeTV Network Adds The A-Team for The Summer of Me; HBO Max Renews Two Comedies for Season 2
    05/09 - Never Have I Ever Season 3 Premieres August 12; Netflix's The Upshaws Return in June
    05/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 9, 2022)
    05/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Canceled; Quantum Leap Reboot Picked Up at NBC
    05/06 - Hulu Comedy Maggie Gets Premiere Date; Chad Returns July 11 on TBS, While HBO Max Series Get Second Runs on TBS and TNT; Remembering David Birney of Bridget Loves Bernie
    05/05 - Freeform Summer 2022 Schedule; The Waltons Return to The CW This Holiday Season
    05/04 - Netflix Orders No Good Deed, from Dead to Me Creator; Cristela Alonzo Returns for New Comedy Special
    05/03 - That '70s Show Cast to Reunite on That '90s Show; Teri Hatcher and James Denton Reunite Again
    05/02 - Antenna TV's Always Mother's Day Marathon; The Real Celebrates Mother's Day with Classic TV Guests
    05/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 2, 2022)
    04/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Conners Close to Season Five Renewal; James Corden Leaving The Late Late Show
    04/29 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's Struggles Create Question for the Future of Television; Hulu Acquires Schitt's Creek
    04/28 - Starz Comedy Run the World Returns with More Stars; HBO Max Orders Spin-off of Harley Quinn Animated Comedy Series
    04/27 - Freeform Orders Single Drunk Female Season 2 & New Series While You Were Breeding; Peacock Brings Back Wolf Like Me
    04/26 - The Orville Returns for Season 3 After 3 Year Hiatus; Fox Announces More Stars for Fantasy Island Season 2