The Odd Couple: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review: Opposites Attract Laughs

The Odd Couple, which earned playwright Neil Simon his first Tony, is about a pair of mismatched divorcees sharing an apartment. It debuted on Broadway in 1965 starring Walter Matthau as slovenly Oscar Madison and Art Carney as finicky Felix Ungar. In 1968, a film adaptation written by Simon was made with Matthau reprising his Tony Award-winning role and Jack Lemmon as Felix.

Garry Marshall and his writing partner Jerry Belson worked on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Danny Thomas Show, and The Lucy Show. They developed The Odd Couple into a sitcom, which ran 144 episodes for five seasons. Jack Klugman, who replaced Matthau on Broadway, was cast as Oscar. Tony Randall, who played the role in other productions, was cast as Felix. The actors have a great chemistry even though the characters’ personalities consistently clash. Klugman won Emmys for lead acting in a comedy the first and third season, and Tony Randall did for the fifth season after the series had been cancelled.

Buy The Odd Couple – The Complete Series Box Set on Blu-ray

The first season was shot with a single camera, a laugh track, and they used the apartment set from the movie. Starting with “Lovers Don’t Make House Calls,” an introduction was added after the prologue with a narrator explaining how friends Felix and Oscar first began living together. “Oscar’s New Life” is without a laugh track but there’s an option for one, which was added for syndication so it would match the rest of the season.

Starting with the second season, the series was recorded with three cameras before a live studio audience. This led to a new layout for the apartment. The episodes feel more like theater. The laughter is more natural but there’s still some canned reactions added. This season sees the introduction of the ex-wives. Felix’s ex-wife Gloria (Janis Hansen) first appears in “Felix’s Wife’s Boyfriend,” and Oscar’s ex-wife Blanche (played by Klugman’s wife Brett Somers) first appears in “Being Divorced Is Never Having to Say I Do.”

While the fellas dated a lot of girls, they each had a steady lady. Over the first two seasons, Oscar sees Dr. Nancy Cunningham (Joan Hotchkis). Over the last three seasons, Felix sees Miriam Welby (Elinor Donahue). Another woman in their lives is Oscar’s secretary, Myrna Turner (Penny Marshall), who joined the show in the second-season episode, “You Saved My Life,” and has a great send-off in “The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in Vain” (1974) when she gets married to her boyfriend Sheldn (played by Penny’s husband Rob Reiner). In addition, viewers got to meet her brother Werner and Verna (played by Penny’s brother Garry and sister Ronnie).

It’s a typical sitcom with Oscar and Felix getting into all sorts of shenanigans, some universal, some unique, some ridiculous. There are also a number of flashback episodes that fill in (or alter as continuity wasn’t a priority) back stories such as how they met on jury duty, Oscar marrying Blanche on his military base, Oscar proposing to Gloria when Felix lost his voice, Felix getting thrown out of the hospital when his daughter was born, when the Madisons split up, and when Gloria asks Felix for a divorce. There is also a flashback in Season Five to Oscar’s and Felix’s fathers (played by Klugman and Randall) meeting in 1920s Chicago. Young Oscar and Felix also meet, disputing the jury-duty story from Season One. The series concludes with (spoiler alert) “Felix Remarries,” which gives an indication on how things end.

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC displayed at its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The image looks clean, free from dirt and defect. Colors appear in strong hues and blacks are inky. Can definitely see the how well the image looks when contrasted with clips in the extras. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is consistently clear and doesn’t suffer from signs of damage or wear. Music and effects are balanced in the mix.

The Extras:

  • There are a number of introductions by Garry Marshall on select episodes. These are very brief and matter of fact, such as saying for “Password” something to the effect of “this is the episode when they went on Password.” There are audio commentaries on select episodes.
  • The Mike Douglas Show (6 min) – Tony Randall appears before The Odd Couple premiered. After having shot 10 episodes, Tony “believe[s] that it’s about the best thing [he’s] ever done in my life.” A push-up contest between Douglas, Randall, and Pat Boone breaks out. A few months later, Klugman and Randall appear on the 11/19/70 episode (7 min).
  • Two Series Promos
  • Jack Klugman’s Book Tour Home Videos (6 min) – After Randall’s death, Klugman wrote the memoir Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship, which came out in 2005. This featurette is comprised from multiple stops.
  • Gag Reel (1 min)
  • Tony & Jack on Stage in The Odd Couple (1993) (3 min) – They reunited for a benefit. Seems to be from a rehearsal because there’s no audience reaction.
  • 1971 Emmy Presentation (1 min) – Available with audio commentary by Klugman

As Oscar and Felix, Klugman and Randall, along with the writers, created an iconic comedy duo. Fans will be glad to have the entire series in their library and should appreciate the high-definition video presentation and the extras. Although I don’t know the quality, it’s a shame the 1993 made-for-TV film The Odd Couple: Together Again isn’t included.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones


  1. Greg Hammond on February 5, 2024 at 11:24 am

    Do you recommend watching the movie first, or does it matter?

    • Gordon S. Miller on February 5, 2024 at 11:35 am

      The movie is very good and I think I like Matthau’s Oscar better, but it’s not necessary to understand what’s happening.

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