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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: The Odd Couple: The Fourth Season



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#1 of 43 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted May 28 2008 - 09:09 AM

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The Odd Couple: The Fourth Season
Directed by Jay Sandrich et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1973-1974
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 562 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 42.99

Release Date: June 10, 2008
Review Date: May 28, 2008


The Series

4/5

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,
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


Video Quality

4/5

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.

Audio Quality

3/5

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.

Special Features

0/5

Disappointingly, there are no special features in the disc set at all.

In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

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.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 43 OFFLINE   Corey3rd

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Posted May 28 2008 - 10:29 AM

It'll be great when CBS DVD puts out the fifth and final season - hopefully in the late Fall. I wasn't a fan of this show until I picked up season 1. Now I'm hooked.
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#3 of 43 OFFLINE   heathjack

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Posted May 28 2008 - 10:53 AM

I been wanting to buy it ever sense it came out. i might buy it when i get my birthday money.

#4 of 43 OFFLINE   RichP

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Posted May 29 2008 - 11:23 AM

What a crock with all the edits, why even bother? It's not the same show.

#5 of 43 OFFLINE   Corey3rd

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Posted May 29 2008 - 04:38 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichP
What a crock with all the edits, why even bother? It's not the same show.

a few shows had to be altered. this wasn't like the butchery done on WKRP. so you'd rather the Odd Couple be kept off DVD because of outrageous demands from music publishers? They cleared quite a few songs so they did make an effort.

a few minor changes is better than being denied the joy of Klugman and Randall.
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#6 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted May 29 2008 - 10:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey3rd
a few shows had to be altered. this wasn't like the butchery done on WKRP. so you'd rather the Odd Couple be kept off DVD because of outrageous demands from music publishers? They cleared quite a few songs so they did make an effort.

a few minor changes is better than being denied the joy of Klugman and Randall.


I couldn't have said it better. For those who've never seen the episodes, they wouldn't even be able to tell, and would still be laughing and enjoying the show.

For the rest of us who know the show better, really - so what? I'd rather have the episodes with all the music intact whenever possible, but what you have to do is resign yourself to the reality that we're in a new time and place when it comes to DVD releases where original broadcasts may not be able to be entirely replicated, due to music rights issues. It's a current problem and the publishing costs just too much to make everything perfect. But a lot of the music IS still intact here and there, and all the jokes and funnies between Klugmanand Randall are always complete. You just have to face the fact that unless there had been VCRs in 1974, you don't get the episode exactly as it originally aired. All we've been watching in syndication ever since the original broadcasts have never been complete anyway, and they're less intact than these new DVDs.

What's the sense in passing up these DVDs? What else are you going to do, settle for NOTHING at all out of stubborness? And even if you're keeping your old syndicated TV broadcasts, besides the quality being less, they're STILL edited --- and sometimes some of the action, not the music!

We still get "Happy and Peppy" and "Stumblin' All Around", so quit yer squawkin'! Just too bad the Marilyn Horne episode wasn't TOTALLY MISSING [just kidding there], as I hate opera and that episode in particular gets my vote as the worst of the series! Posted Image

#7 of 43 OFFLINE   Jack Platt

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Posted May 31 2008 - 12:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
I couldn't have said it better. For those who've never seen the episodes, they wouldn't even be able to tell, and would still be laughing and enjoying the show.

For the rest of us who know the show better, really - so what? I'd rather have the episodes with all the music intact whenever possible, but what you have to do is resign yourself to the reality that we're in a new time and place when it comes to DVD releases where original broadcasts may not be able to be entirely replicated, due to music rights issues. It's a current problem and the publishing costs just too much to make everything perfect. But a lot of the music IS still intact here and there, and all the jokes and funnies between Klugmanand Randall are always complete. You just have to face the fact that unless there had been VCRs in 1974, you don't get the episode exactly as it originally aired. All we've been watching in syndication ever since the original broadcasts have never been complete anyway, and they're less intact than these new DVDs.

What's the sense in passing up these DVDs? What else are you going to do, settle for NOTHING at all out of stubbornness? And even if you're keeping your old syndicated TV broadcasts, besides the quality being less, they're STILL edited --- and sometimes some of the action, not the music!

We still get "Happy and Peppy" and "Stumblin' All Around", so quit yer squawkin'! Just too bad the Marilyn Horne episode wasn't TOTALLY MISSING [just kidding there], as I hate opera and that episode in particular gets my vote as the worst of the series! Posted Image

I agree,

They obviously made every effort for complete unedited episodes, but if the music publishers demand too much money, the alternative is the poor quality and severely edited syndicated/when they run it, TV Land prints. This is as close to the original broadcasts that we are ever going to get again, so you might as well buy the disks, so that we can get to Season 5, and the complete series on DVD.

Jack

#8 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted May 31 2008 - 10:36 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Platt
This is as close to the original broadcasts that we are ever going to get again, so you might as well buy the disks

That's it in a nutshell, Jack.

#9 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 10 2008 - 09:33 AM

I bought this today and the first thing I did was check the "The Flying Felix" episode out. As we already know, Myrna's brief song is cut out, but you'd never know it in this case because the transition is rather smooth. But I still have an old VHS recording off syndicated TV of this episode, so I checked that out as a comparison...

For starters, the joke's not very funny anyway (though at least some of it IS still intact on the new DVD, about Myrna being a "slow-talking secretary"). Oscar tells Felix to look, and Myrna walks in singing. Originally, Felix says something like: "That's not a stewardess; that's a slow-talking secretary!" But with the edited DVD, Oscar tells Felix to look, and Felix now spots Myrna walking in and says to Oscar: "That's a slow-talking secretary!". It really doesn't hurt a bit.

But if you want to hear about an even bigger edit, it's on my old syndicated VHS recording. At the start of the airport scene right after (this is on the syndicated TV version), there is a whole bit of MISSING business where Felix is so nervous about flying that he keeps wanting to use the bathroom again and again, and Oscar has to drag him away from doing so. This is not on my old VHS, but it is COMPLETE on this new DVD. So it's give and take, and the DVD sets always come up ahead.

So the point again is, if you like this show you won't be gaining anything by passing it up on DVD and sticking with inferior-looking, worse-cut syndicated episodes. This is as good as it gets.

#10 of 43 OFFLINE   FanCollector

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Posted June 10 2008 - 10:48 AM

Loving the set thus far. As Joe says, it is wonderful to see some scenes I have never seen in my life. For the sake of completeness, however, I will add an edit to the list. In "Felix Directs", Oscar sings "I'm Gonna Be In Pictures" to the tune of "You Ought to Be in Pictures" at the end of a scene. The DVD fades out before he does so, leaving his subsequent motivation to appear in a movie (which was money) implicit rather than explicit.

As with the edits on the last two sets, the purist in me is disappointed, but there is no question that these edited versions are far superior to the syndicated and cable versions previously available.

#11 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 10 2008 - 11:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by FanCollector
Loving the set thus far. As Joe says, it is wonderful to see some scenes I have never seen in my life. For the sake of completeness, however, I will add an edit to the list. In "Felix Directs", Oscar sings "I'm Gonna Be In Pictures" to the tune of "You Ought to Be in Pictures" at the end of a scene. The DVD fades out before he does so, leaving his subsequent motivation to appear in a movie (which was money) implicit rather than explicit.


Wow. That one's rough. And Klugman only sings five words!

#12 of 43 OFFLINE   Corey3rd

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Posted June 10 2008 - 11:41 AM

you'd be amazed how little you have to do to get a music publisher's lawyer's attention.
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#13 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 10 2008 - 11:48 AM

Just watched the first episode, "Gloria Moves In". There's some singing missing in a scene where Felix is depressed and watches the other guys playing Poker. He says he used to sing the blues for Gloria, and then proceeds to sing: "Quarter to Three... nobody in the bar except you and me...", and then one of the poker players gets into singing it with him. Well, there's an abrupt cut there after his gloria line, and no singing.

Funny thing is, as soon as I saw the start of the poker game I remembered the song immediately and it's the one moment which popped into my head, which I was looking forward to.

This is going to be interesting... Posted Image

#14 of 43 OFFLINE   FanCollector

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Posted June 10 2008 - 12:03 PM

You just beat me to "One For My Baby"! The interesting thing about Paramount is that in most ways, they are the pinnacle of TV-on-DVD studios. They put out more stuff, more often and almost always stick with the series. No other studio is even close. However...they are, I would say, dead last about this music edit business. I was discussing Sanford and Son with some people in another thread and Sony, which has an abysmal record in most other respects, cleared literally dozens of expensive popular songs over the six years of that show.

Someone else mentioned the change for the Paramount distribution arm of the company to the CBS arm a couple of years ago. That seems to have been the moment when music became a major stumbling block for them. Cheers is a good way of seeing the change. The older seasons were not edited and the music in the last release was. This Fugitive business today is a new low. At least they seem to save their money to pay for the songs on which whole scenes or whole shows depend.

I wouldn't trade Paramount's schedule for the music, though!

#15 of 43 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted June 10 2008 - 05:46 PM

Here's a simple solution. Take your VHS records of the shows and then edit in the missing music into the DVD versions. Then you can create your own complete versions of the show. Odd Couple is one show I don't have on tape so I can't do this but if the show was as important to me as it is to many people here that's what I would do.

#16 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 10 2008 - 09:29 PM

There's a piece missing from "The Odd Holiday" also, in a scene where Felix gets up early and tries to wake the Madisons up to start the day. He goes over to their bed and is supposed to get into a few lines (forget what they are exactly) where he says "Day-O!" or something. This is gone.

I have been very forgiving of these edits, but now it's just beginning to seem ridiculous as I encounter more and more. And some of them rather trivial, or just a few words that are mostly spoken and not fully sung.

What I'm wondering is this -- does Paramount edit these in anticipation that there may be a problem with the rights down the line, or do they first run all these shows by the song owners and then make their decisions based on their demands?

#17 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 10 2008 - 09:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hank Dearborn
Here's a simple solution. Take your VHS records of the shows and then edit in the missing music into the DVD versions. Then you can create your own complete versions of the show. Odd Couple is one show I don't have on tape so I can't do this but if the show was as important to me as it is to many people here that's what I would do.

First of all, I don't have every TV episode on VHS anymore; I only have about 8 left. But even if I did, this is no answer... because the volume and video quality would glaringly be distracting and would not match well at all. And that's just as bad, if not worse, than not having all the scenes intact on DVD.

#18 of 43 OFFLINE   FanCollector

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Posted June 11 2008 - 10:35 AM

There is another edit in "The Odd Holiday". When Felix, Gloria and Blanche are waiting for Oscar, the gist of the scene is that Felix is being very aggravating, but every time Gloria makes the slightest move, he chastises her for being annoying. The DVD edits out his "Gotta get going, gotta get going, what are we gonna do?" and "We're on our way to somewhere, the three of us and Oscar". The result is that Felix is not being annoying, and Gloria is. This is one of the few edits that might puzzle even someone who doesn't know it's there because it leaves the scene without any joke at all.

#19 of 43 OFFLINE   FanCollector

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Posted June 11 2008 - 10:45 AM

Felix's Fred Astaire impression, including a few bars of "Cheek to Cheek" is edited out of "That Was No Lady", making Oscar's suggestion that he had run into Ginger Rogers a little random.

#20 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 11 2008 - 10:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by FanCollector
There is another edit in "The Odd Holiday". When Felix, Gloria and Blanche are waiting for Oscar, the gist of the scene is that Felix is being very aggravating, but every time Gloria makes the slightest move, he chastises her for being annoying. The DVD edits out his "Gotta get going, gotta get going, what are we gonna do?" and "We're on our way to somewhere, the three of us and Oscar". The result is that Felix is not being annoying, and Gloria is. This is one of the few edits that might puzzle even someone who doesn't know it's there because it leaves the scene without any joke at all.

The editing is what's annoying!
I remember this bit now that you mention it, but it went right over my head while watching the DVD.

This is really something. I can sometimes understand when a whole song is eliminated, but just a few words here and there? Is the "Gotta get going, gotta get going" a song??

I believe it was Corey who already mentioned the ending of "This Is The Army Mrs. Madison" being tampered with. Originally, Felix and Murray are outside Oscar's room with their backs turned to his window and Murray plays his harmonica while Felix sings "I love you truly.... truly..." (I think that's what it was)... but on the DVD, Felix's singing has been eliminated and you hear a faux harmonica solo by Murray being inserted instead. It keeps the scene alive, as Blanche slips into Oscar's room on their honeymoon, and it still works.... but if you look oustide the window, you can see Felix's mouth moving in mute song!


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