Directed by Jay Sandrich et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 562 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
MSRP: $ 42.99
Release Date: June 10, 2008
Review Date: May 28, 2008
The trials and tribulations of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison continue hilariously unabated in this fourth season set of the wonderful comedy series The Odd Couple. Tony Randall and Jack Klugman continue to display the same razor sharp timing and superb comedy technique that have made this series one of the greats. Yes, as in all of the seasons of the show, there were occasional episodes which didn’t rise to the high level of most of the series, but when the ratio of winners to losers is this high, one can accept a few duds among so many superb entries.
As for the regulars and recurring characters, Al Molinaro returns as the sweet-natured cop Murray, and Penny Marshall is there as Oscar’s slow-talking, not overly bright secretary Myrna Turner. Janis Hansen pops up occasionally again as Felix’s ex-wife Gloria, and Klugman’s then-wife Brett Somers appears once again as Oscar’s ex-wife Blanche in a couple of memorable episodes. Elinor Donahue makes several appearances as Felix’s girl friend Miriam during the season. All are as superb in their roles as the two stars.
Among the best of the season’s unforgettable gems, “The New Car” ranks among the most outstanding episodes in the series’ five-year history (John Byner is especially hilarious as a sarcastic parking garage owner). Another real winner is “The Songwriter” as Felix takes advantage of Oscar’s dating singing star Jaye P. Morgan to persuade her to sing his brand new “hit” song “Happy and Peppy and Bursting With Love.” (He wanted her to sing his World War II hit “Let’s Hit Hitler Where He Lives” but couldn’t rework the lyric to his satisfaction.) Oscar’s flaring ulcer causes Felix to audition a series of women to be Oscar’s nanny (including the priceless character actress Reta Shaw) in the superb “Maid for Each Other.” And Felix’s fear of flying is exploited to perfection in “The Flying Felix,” another of the greatest episodes in the show’s history.
Note on edits to the original broadcasts: collectors will be relieved that these funny songs in “The Songwriter” appear unedited in the disc transfer. However, “Tiger Rag” which ends “This Is the Army, Mrs. Madison” isn’t quite so lucky. Also missing is Myrna’s funny rendition of “Fly Me” and the jokes her rendition inspires in “The Flying Felix.” A song by Felix’s group The Sophisticados in “A Different Drummer” at the beginning of the episode appears to have been cut (we hear audience applause at the end of the song as the episode opens) though “Stumbling,” "Football Hero," and “Sweet Sue” are still there. Marilyn Horne’s “People” in “Vocal Girl Makes Good” is intact as well.
Along with the aforementioned John Byner, Reta Shaw, Marilyn Horne, and Jaye P. Morgan, other well known names appearing this season include Edward Villella, Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, Terri Garr, George Furth, Grady Sutton, Victor Buono, William Redfield, Dick Clark, Michael Lerner, and Hugh Hefner.
Here is the list of the season’s 22 produced episodes on the four enclosed discs:
1 - Gloria Moves In
2 - Last Tango in Newark
3 - Odd Decathlon
4 - That Was No Lady
5 - Odd Holiday
6 - The New Car
7 - This Is the Army, Mrs. Madison
8 - The Songwriter
9 - Felix Directs
10 - The Pig Who Came to Dinner
11 - Maid for Each Other
12 - The Exorcists (perhaps the season’s weakest episode)
13 - A Barnacle Adventure
14 - The Moonlighter
15 - Cleanliness Is Next to Impossible
16 - The Flying Felix
17 - Vocal Girl Makes Good
18 - Shuffling Off to Buffalo
19 - A Different Drummer
20 - The Insomniacs
21 - New York’s Oddest
22 - One for the Bunny
The program’s 1.33:1 broadcast aspect ratio is delivered faithfully in these transfers. Sharpness in all of the studio footage is quite excellent, and color intensity varies only from good to great. Naturally, filmed location footage appears as soft and unappealing as it always has, and you’ll see occasional specks of dirt and a scratch every so often. Still, the episodes look far better than they ever looked during the original broadcasts or in syndication. Each episode is divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks are decoded properly by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. All of the witty dialog is delivered well in these transfers though occasionally you’ll hear some hiss and flutter in some episodes. Still, the audio tracks are exactly what you’d expect for mono tracks of the era.
Disappointingly, there are no special features in the disc set at all.
The Odd Couple is a great television series, and season four, while possessing some weak episodes compared to the solid number of winners in the previous season, still manages a higher than average ratio of winners to losers. Fans of the show will love having these episodes looking so wonderful even with the unfortunate music edits that are present.