The Odd Couple: The Final Season
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: November 18, 2008
Review Date: November 13, 2008
The fifth and last season detailing the lives and loves of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison continue merrily onward in the marvelous 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, and, to be honest, the overall quality of the writing in this final season wasn’t quite up to the level of the past two seasons. This final season of the show seemed to showcase Randall more than Klugman which may account for Randall‘s finally winning the Best Comedy Actor Emmy at season‘s end. There seemed to be a greater reliance on guest stars this season. Still, the show’s last season produced many pleasures and treasures.
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 in two episodes. Janis Hansen pops up again as Felix’s ex-wife Gloria memorably enough in the season/series finale, though Elinor Donahue makes several appearances as Felix’s girl friend Miriam during the season, too. All are as superb in their roles as the two stars.
Among the best of the season’s unforgettable gems, “The Subway Show” stands out from the pack as Felix tries his best to deflate Oscar’s assertion that New Yorkers are rude and uncaring. “Two on the Aisle” finds theater-ignorant Oscar using Felix’s enthusiasm for the stage to underhandedly help him write reviews for the vacationing theater critic. And Randall and Klugman memorably play their own fathers in prohibition Chicago in “Our Fathers.” (I interviewed Tony Randall in the early 1980s, and he told me this was his favorite episode. Of course, in other interviews during his career, I heard him express special fondness for “The Flying Felix” and “Password,” so who knows which one was his real favorite.)
Note on edits to the original broadcasts: “Strike Up the Band or Else . . . “ begins and ends abruptly with obvious missing music. Martina Arroyo’s opera selection is present in “Your Mother Wears Army Boots” but not her climactic “For Once in My Life.” Scatman Crothers’ little ditty is gone from “The Subway Show,” and “Together” is cut from “Two Men on a Hoarse.“ Surprisingly, we do get to hear “Born Free” at the end of “The Frogs,” “Laugh, Clown, Laugh” and “That’s the Way It Was in Vaudeville” from the Richard Dawson episode, and all of Paul Williams’ four songs in his starring show are unaltered as are Roy Clark‘s several numbers on his starring half hour. I’m sure The Odd Couple fanatics who know every second of the show much better than I will be able to add other alterations and omissions to this review thread, and I look forward to reading them.
Along with the aforementioned Paul Williams, Roy Clark, Richard Dawson, Scatman Carothers, and Martina Arroyo, other well known names appearing this season include Rob Reiner, Leonard Barr (three appearances), Leif Garrett, George Montgomery, Allan Arbus, Rona Barrett, John Fiedler, Cliff Norton, Pernell Roberts, Howard K. Smith, Guy Marks, Barney Martin, Elisha Cook, Jr., Dina Merrill, Jack Carter, Howard Cosell, Albert Paulsen, Rodney Allen Rippy, Dick Cavett, Victor Buono, Phil Foster, and John Byner.
Here is the list of the season’s 22 produced episodes on the three enclosed discs:
1 - The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in Vain
2 - To Bowl or Not to Bowl
3 - The Frog
4 - The Hollywood Story
5 - The Dog Story
6 - Strike Up the Band or Else . . .
7 - The Odd Candidate
8 - The Subway Show
9 - The Paul Williams Show
10 - Our Fathers
11 - The Big Broadcast
12 - Oscar in Love
13 - Two on the Aisle
14 - Your Mother Wears Army Boots
15 - Felix the Horseplayer
16 - The Roy Clark Show
17 - The Rent Strike
18 - Two Men on a Hoarse
19 - The Bigger They Are . . .
20 - Old Flames Never Die
21 - Laugh, Clown, Laugh!
22 - Felix Remarries
The original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1 is faithfully rendered in these new DVD transfers. The images for the most part are very solid and steady. Color saturation is excellent, and accurate flesh tones really stand out. In fact, the image is so rock solid that toupee lines are easily seen in some shots and makeup lines can be discerned behind the ears of some of the actors. Of course, there are some white specks here and there, and there is a white scratch in the “Rent Strike” episode. Stock footage and some location shots look anywhere from soft to lousy usually, but they did in the original broadcasts as well. The episodes have been divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio track is decoded by Dolby Prologic accurately into the center channel. Since the show is predominantly talk, it’s important that the dialog be clear, and there’s no denying that it is that. Sometimes there’s some scratchy audio for a few seconds, and often the encode has a hard time dealing with high pitched voices and sounds without some distortion. Otherwise, it’s an acceptable mono track representative of its era.
There are no bonuses, not even Tony Randall’s Emmy acceptance speech, disappointing since Klugman’s speeches were presented in the earlier box sets.
There are previews for I Love Lucy, Becker, and Perry Mason - 50th Anniversary Edition.
Though the fifth and final season of The Odd Couple wasn’t the show’s best, thanks go to Paramount for at least making all five seasons available to fans with better than average transfers even when some shows have undergone some music adjustments. Obviously for fans, this release is recommended.