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"The Odd Couple" The Third Season DVD Review

Buy The Odd Couple: The Third Season on DVD from Amazon.com The Odd Couple: Season Three (1972-73)
Show & DVD Details

Creators/Executive Producers: Garry Marshall, Jerry Belson / Producer: Jerry Davis

Regular Director: Jerry Paris / Repeat Directors: Robert Birnbaum, Mel Ferber, Hal Cooper, Alex March, Jack Donahue

Writers: Garry Marshall, Albert E. Lewin, Mark Rothman, Lowell Ganz, Bob Brunner

Regular Cast: Tony Randall (Felix Unger), Jack Klugman (Oscar Madison)

Recurring Characters: Al Molinaro (Murray Greshler), Elinor Donahue (Miriam Welby), Penny Marshall (Myrna Turner), Janis Hansen (Gloria Unger)

Notable Guest Stars: Howard Cosell (Himself), Jean Simmons (Princess Lydia of Lichtenburg), Richard Stahl (Brother Ralph), Jane Dulo (Mrs. Madison), Brett Somers (Blanche Madison), Deacon Jones (Himself), Allen Ludden (Himself), Betty White (Herself), Doney Oatman (Edna Unger), Marlyn Mason (Lisa), Karl Swenson (Captain Potter), Norman Shelly (Dr. Able), Vivian Bonnell (Ms. Ferret), Stanley Adams (Sure-Shot Wilson), Monty Hall (Himself), Bubba Smith (Himself), Elvia Allman (Mrs. Madison), Titos Andis (Aroestes), Jane Dulo (Mimi Greshler), Patty Regan (Chi-Chi Caballero), Barbara Daitch (Lu-Lu La Verne)

Running Time: 596 Minutes (23 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
Season 3 Airdates: September 15, 1972 - March 23, 1973
DVD Release Date: January 22, 2008; Clear Standard-Width Keepcase
Suggested Retail Price: $38.99; Four single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)

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By Kelvin Cedeno

When the phrase "The Odd Couple" is mentioned, people tend to think of the 1970s television sitcom even though it stemmed from a successful play and film. Such a case is rare, for while numerous shows are made from films, few manage to eclipse their inspirations. For "The Odd Couple", this seems to have resulted over time rather than instantaneously. The series never garnered particularly strong ratings due to it often airing on Friday nights, frequently the mark of death in TV. In fact, ABC actually cancelled the show after every season, but every summer new audiences would discover it through syndication, causing the network to greenlight an additional season.

"The Odd Couple" deals with the dynamic of two people who are polar opposites and how they interact, a concept used often in stories. The two personalities here are the neurotic, hygiene-obsessed Felix Unger (Tony Randall) and the sloppy, carefree Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman). When Felix is kicked out of his apartment by his wife, he moves in with Oscar, who also happens to be separated from his own wife.
The two try to lead their lives as they normally would but constantly end up clashing with each other. Whether it's in their hobbies (Felix is a theater aficionado while Oscar's passion is sports) or their tastes (wine and filet mignon for one, beer and hot dogs for the other), the two usually can't agree on anything. As the opening narration aptly puts it, "Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

As evidenced by the title, this is not an ensemble series. While several characters make recurring appearances, Oscar and Felix are the only ones to be in every episode and virtually every scene. While this doesn't allow the audience to know anyone else very well, it certainly gets them acquainted with these two. As our infinitely bickering duo, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman completely immerse themselves in their characters. Each one takes his already well-written lines and infuses them with well-calculated delivery and a level of personality. Neither one breaks character for even a moment. When either one is not the focus of a scene, he can be still be seen reacting in-character. Oscar and Felix are fairly two-dimensional beings that don't usually reveal their inner thought processes, and yet they're fully believable as people thanks to the fact that Klugman and Randall play them sincerely rather than tongue-in-cheekly.

Felix (Tony Randall) teaches Oscar (Jack Klugman) about the concept of littering in the famous "Odd Couple" opening credits. Felix and Oscar's method of role reversal does nothing to alleviate their animosity.

It helps that the humor here isn't always as obvious as other shows from this era. Keeping in tune with the tone of the original Neil Simon play and film, the sitcom's humor derives mostly from dialogue. There's plenty of dry wit on board, and excursions into outrageous antics are fewer than expected. In fact, the way a particular line is said tends to be funnier than the line itself, a testament to the acting and direction. If there's one flaw to be had, it's that there's an obvious bias towards Oscar. Most of the plots center around him, and of the two, Felix tends to cause problems far more often than Oscar does. Felix's neurotic tendencies are inclined to aggravate one a bit after an extended period of time, thus making Oscar more sympathetic. That isn't to say Felix is unsympathetic,
especially considering how repulsive Oscar's habits can be. There simply needed to be more storylines driven by Oscar's flaws rather than Felix's in order to balance things out.

"The Odd Couple" is the sort of show whose success or failure rides on its leads. Both Tony Randall and Jack Klugman prove up to the task of bearing everything on their shoulders and turn in memorable performances. This series may not treat both characters equally, but it's still entertaining thanks not only to its actors but also to its smart and timeless writing.

As with the first two seasons, this Third Season set of "The Odd Couple" has been edited due to music rights. While this is no doubt disappointing, the cuts on display here are fewer than what one would get via a syndicated viewing. It's preferrable to having the show not released at all as Paramount knows it wouldn't be able to recoup any costs it may spend on music rights for these releases. One hopes, though, that with all the money saved on these edits, the studio will be willing to pay for the episodes in the coming seasons whose plots are driven by music.

Episode summaries of the four-disc set's episodes follow. A star () indicates the ten most memorable episodes of the season.

Felix tries to show Oscar how comfortable he is having his ex-wife Gloria (Janis Hansen) and current girlfriend Miriam (Elinor Donahue) together in the same room with him. Howard Cosell plays the challenging role of himself as Oscar, Felix, and a young Cosell fan look on. Princess Lydia (Jean Simmons) puts her lessons in etiquette to full use as she refuses Oscar's request to go out with him.

Disc 1

1. Gloria Hallelujah (26:07) (Originally aired September 15, 1972)
Oscar goes on a blind date with a woman he met through a computer dating service. When the woman happens to be Felix's ex-wife Gloria, Felix is determined to prove that he's fine with the situation.

2. Big Mouth (26:08) (Originally aired September 22, 1972)
Oscar insults sports journalist Howard Cosell, ruining Felix's photoshoot. Felix forces Oscar to apologize, but it's easier said than done.

3. The Princess (26:09) (Originally aired September 29, 1972)
Princess Lydia of Lichtenburg (Jean Simmons) has her portrait taken by Felix. Oscar hits on her not realizing she's actual royalty.

4. The Pen is Mightier Than the Pencil (26:06) (Originally aired October 6, 1972)
Felix decides to enroll in a creative writing course. Unfortunately, his poetry, which he consistently thrusts upon everyone around him, isn't very good.

Felix and Oscar bake bread while on silent probation at the monastery Or at least, Felix is baking. Oscar's merely glowering. For the sake of not upsetting his mother, Oscar tries to sleep with his ex-wife Blanche (Brett Somers) for the first time in over three years. Football player Deacon Jones advertises a new razor while Oscar apparently dies of camera-fright.

5. The Odd Monks (25:52) (Originally aired October 13, 1972)
Felix and Oscar go on a monk's retreat in hopes of some relaxation in their hectic lives. Their stay ends up not quite being what they expected.

6. I'm Dying of Unger (25:54) (Originally aired October 20, 1972)
Oscar's writer's block prevents him from working on his novel, so Felix takes him to a secluded cabin for inspiration.

Disc 2

7. The Odd Couples (25:42) (Originally aired October 27, 1972)
Oscar's mother, who is deeply disturbed by the concept of divorce, comes to visit. Oscar and Felix both pretend to still be married to their respective wives. Note that this episode has been edited for DVD. Originally, Felix sang "Peg O' My Heart" off camera while watering his plants, causing Oscar to join him off-camera and audibly strangle him. The DVD removes the song and replaces it with Felix's signature nasal honking, thus becoming the reason for the proceeding strangling.

8. Felix's First Commercial (26:07) (Originally aired November 3, 1972)
Felix receives an opportunity to direct his first television commercial. He tries to use Oscar's connections to get football star Deacon Jones as the star, but Oscar insists on co-starring.

Oscar's birthday suddenly turns into a nightmarish episode of "This Is Your Life." Felix shares a rare bonding moment with his daughter Edna (Doney Oatman) in "The Odd Father." Oscar and the rest of the passengers on the senior cruise stare incredulously as Felix tries to rouse them into a game of Simon Says.

9. The First Baby (26:07) (Originally aired November 10, 1972)
Oscar explains to Myrna why Felix is banned from the hospital. The birth of Felix's first child and the resulting ban are told via flashback.

10. Oscar's Birthday (25:40) (Originally aired November 17, 1972)
Felix insists on throwing Oscar a surprise birthday party,
but Oscar figures it out and makes Felix promise to cancel it. Felix goes through with it, anyway. Note that this episode has been edited for DVD. A tap dance number at Oscar's birthday party performed by Marjorie Marshall, executive producer Garry Marshall's mother, has been awkwardly removed, resulting in a continuity error.

11. Password (26:07) (Originally aired December 1, 1972)
Oscar is invited to be a guest on the gameshow Password. Felix convinces Oscar to make him his partner, but Felix proves to be a hindrance.

12. The Odd Father (26:09) (Originally aired December 8, 1972)
Felix tries to connect with his daughter, but all she ever does is watch television. When she finally takes up an interest in something, it turns out to be a hobby Felix can't relate to at all.

Disc 3

13. Don't Believe in Roomers (26:05) (Originally aired December 22, 1972)
Oscar invites a woman who just recently moved to New York to stay in his apartment. Soon both he and Felix find that they each have a lot in common with her.

14. Sometimes a Great Ocean (25:38) (Originally aired January 5, 1973)
After suffering an ulcer, Oscar joins Felix on a cruise to relax. Much to his chagrin, Oscar finds that it's a senior citizen cruise, and things take a turn for the worst when Felix becomes the activities coordinator.

Felix is congratulated by the IRS staff for having the most impressive tax returns of anyone in the nation. Myrna (Penny Marshall) isn't entirely at ease performing live in front of a studio audience. Perhaps playing against a tightly-wound brunette will bring her at ease. Oscar engages in a game of pool in hopes that Felix can finally leave him alone. If only it were that easy.

15. I Gotta Be Me (25:13) (Originally aired January 12, 1973)
When their constant bickering scares Miriam and Murray away, Oscar and Felix visit Myrna's therapist. At the therapist's request, the two try role reversal in order to better understand each other. Note that this episode has been edited for DVD. Oscar originally sang a bit of “Cocktails for Two” in the middle of the episode. This then led in to an end-of-the-episode gag in which Felix sings the song himself and ends up getting locked out of the apartment by Oscar. The DVD removes all references to the song and thus ends with the line that would've led up to the number.

16. The Ides of April (25:25) (Originally aired January 19, 1973)
Felix is summoned to the IRS office concerning his taxes. Thinking he's been called for something detrimental, he accidentally lets it slip that Oscar hardly ever files his taxes.

17. Myrna's Debut (25:35) (Originally aired February 2, 1973)
Felix convinces Myrna to follow her dream and become a professional tap dancer. Not only does she quit her job as Oscar's secretary, but Felix tries to land her a spot on a sports show Oscar is hosting.

18. The Hustler (25:38) (Originally aired February 9, 1973)
Felix's opera group holds a casino night fundraiser to go towards new costumes. When they lose all their money, Oscar tries to win it back by playing against a pool shark.

Miriam wonders why she's involved with a man who'll wear a chicken suit to get on a gameshow. Oscar views the newly refurbished apartment and wonders if he walked onto the set of H.R. Pufnstuf. Oscar tests Murray (Al Molinaro) on his police skills to get his mind off his wife. Seeing as Murray lacks said skills, the plan fails in 10 seconds.

Disc 4

19. My Strife in Court (25:38) (Originally February 16, 1973)
Oscar can't get a date, so he tries to get rid of an extra theater ticket of his. Both he and Felix are arrested for ticket scalping, but Felix decides to represent both of them in court.

20. Let's Make a Deal (25:38) (Originally aired February 23, 1973)
One of Oscar's cigars burns a hole in Felix's bed.
To make up for it, Oscar arranges for Felix to appear on the show Let's Make a Deal to win a new bed.

21. The Odyssey Couple (25:18) (Originally aired March 2, 1973)
To stop her persistent nagging, Oscar tells his mother that he has a girlfriend. Felix helps him find a date for him to introduce to her.

22. Take My Furniture, Please (25:38) (Originally aired March 9, 1973)
Felix sells all of Oscar's furniture and buys new, modern pieces. Oscar retaliates by replacing them with trashy hand-me-downs.

23. The Murray Who Came to Dinner (25:49) (Originally aired March 23, 1973)
Murray's wife throws him out after they have a heated argument. Felix invites him to stay over, but Murray's habits drive Oscar insane.

Felix makes his 348th call to make sure Gloria hasn't had her baby without him, yet. Oscar is busy at work writing his new novel.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"The Odd Couple" is presented in its original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1. While Paramount's series sets vary greatly in quality, this show is one of their better efforts. Grain and print flaws are minimal and not distracting while sharpness is usually quite good. Colors overall are warm and vibrant. Moire effects creep up occasionally on checkered patterns as the camera is moving, and whites tend to bloom a bit, but this is rare. These are generally quite pleasing transfers.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks are harder to discern due to the limitations of 1970s television. Dialogue usually sounds clean as do the musical cues. Sound effects are a little more muffled, but this is because of the source material rather than the DVD mastering. These tracks are as adequate as can be expected for a show of this type and from this era.

Disc Two's main menu features Oscar singing "The Star Spangled Banner"	 while Felix dunks his watch into a glass of beer. The Odd Couple live up to their name by eating without furniture while Oscar is about to smash Felix's face on Disc 4's main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

While the first season set for "The Odd Couple" provided a surprisingly solid roster of supplements, the second season took the usual Paramount approach of barebones season sets. This third season set continues in that vein. While on one hand it's understandable not to put scads of bonus materials across season sets (after all, comments offered for one season won't differ much from others), it's still a letdown not to see any here.


Browse more Odd Couple posters and photos
Hopefully the rest of the supplements the studio has to offer are being saved for the fifth season so that the sets that bookend the series can be the ones containing the features. This approach is probably not the case, but only time will tell.

Each disc features a single animated menu consisting of scenes from that particular disc. These scenes are presented via split screens reminiscent of the show's opening theme song. That very tune plays over the menus. While there's no scene selection menu, each episode is broken down into six chapters, with both the opening and closing credits given their own chapters.

As with other Paramount sitcoms, this set comes in a clear keepcase. The tray inside holds a disc on either side while the interiors of the case itself also hold discs. The reverse side of the cover artwork lists episode summaries and original airdates. This set nicely matches the style set by the first two seasons, with an image from the episode "Let's Make A Deal" claiming the bottom half of the front this time.

Oscar expresses his appreciation for having Felix as his lawyer. Felix doesn't understand how his bizarre clues keep going over Oscar's head (and Allen Ludden's, Betty White's, the audience's...)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"The Odd Couple" has become one of the most popular and enduring sitcoms ever made and for good reason. As the title characters, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman give a spark to their roles and share an undeniable chemistry. Picture and sound on this release are both satisfactory, though the song edits and lack of supplements both are disheartening. Those unfamiliar with this series are advised to rent the first season. This third season is recommended to fans of the show as the fate of future sets undoubtedly relies on sales of this and its two predecessors.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
1970s Television:
Laverne and Shirley: Season 3 • Happy Days: Season 3 • The Muppet Show: Season 2 • Benson: Season 1

1970s Comedies:
North Avenue Irregulars • The Barefoot Executive • Grand Theft Auto: Tricked Out Edition
Snowball Express • Gus • Herbie Rides Again • The Shaggy D.A. • Freaky Friday

New to DVD:
When Harry Met Sally...: Collector's Edition • Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: Season 3 • The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Edition

Reviewed January 24, 2008.



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