DAVID BIANCULLI

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THE ODD COUPLE MARATHON
August 1, 2020  | By David Bianculli

Decades, 12:00 p.m. ET

 
Neil Simon’s brilliantly funny play The Odd Couple opened on Broadway in 1965, starring Walter Matthau as slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison and Art Carney as his fussy temporary roommate, Felix Ungar. It was a smash hit that ran for two years – and after it closed, in 1968, Matthau reprised his stage role in a movie version, opposite Jack Lemmon as Felix. Both versions were comedy brilliance, so there was little chance to hope, when ABC mounted a sitcom adaptation for television, that lightning would strike thrice. Yet it did. From 1970-75, producers Garry Marshall (later of Happy Days and so much moreand Jerry Belson created a TV offshoot, starring Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix. Once again, the casting was superb, and ABC’s The Odd Couple ran for the first half of the 1970s, keeping pace with such classic CBS sitcoms as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, and M*A*S*H. Today and tomorrow, Decades presents a two-day marathon of this rarely televised Odd Couple sitcom, so take full advantage. The action begins today at noon ET, with a roster including a flashback “prequel” at 1:30 p.m. ET, and an episode at 4:30 p.m. ET that proves Monty Python wasn’t the only partnership to wring classic comedy out of a dead parrot. And the best is yet to come. More details tomorrow.
 
 
 
 
 
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