CBS released a rebooted version of “The Odd Couple” on Thursday, Feb. 19. The show is about Felix, played by Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911”), an uptight, recently divorced neat freak moving in with Oscar, played by Mathew Perry (“Go On”), a long-since divorced slob. The show premiered with around 13.5 million viewers. (However the show didn’t really wow any of them.)
This is the fifth rendition of Neil Simon’s play and not much has changed. The characters portrayed by Perry and Lennon are essentially the same as they were in every other version of the play. They’re changed up slightly, with Felix doing yoga and eating vegan and Oscar as a renowned sports newscaster. Yet, these changes weren’t enough to make people look over the fact that CBS used the same formula to try to create an “original” production.
The entire episode felt like a typical sitcom. It’s set in New York, the characters meet, have a fight, yet realize they’re going to make each other better people. Sound familiar? On top of that, Perry is essentially replaying his character from one of his other failed sitcoms. “Go On” basically had the same character, the only difference was he was a widower instead of a divorced man.
Many of the jokes felt the same. Some seemed chuckle-worthy, others fell flat. During one scene, Felix brought out an array of vegan food and the other characters made gay jokes that wouldn’t make an eighth grader laugh. The best joke of the episode had to be Lennon saying, “I’d play a piece more to your liking, but it’s hard to play porn on a cello.” On top of that, it was another laugh-track filled series with decent, not hilarious, jokes.
The rest of the cast is pretty decent. It features Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”), Lindsay Sloane (“Horrible Bosses”) and Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”). Brown didn’t really have much time on screen, but she has been cast as a series regular and has done great work on TV comedies before. The other two made a good impression in the pilot, so we can only see where they’ll go as the show develops.
The show needs to try to stand on its own more. There are rare moments when the jokes don’t fail. If the writers try to create better material for the cast to work with, the show might evolve into something better. They should also try to change up the characters more, particularly Perry’s. They’ve cast Lauren Graham (“Gilmore Girls”) as his ex-wife, so hopefully the relationship between the two will take Perry away from doing the same character he has done before on canceled sitcoms.
The show at the moment is nothing that could be recommended. Its lack of originality and mediocre writing leave much to be desired. Hopefully, the show will evolve as they develop the characters more and as the writers expand on the world around the two. As of right now, it’s just more of the same and no one is looking for that on network television.