For the first time in… I don’t know… many years, repeats of The Odd Couple are back on TV.
On Thursday (an odd day to start airing a TV show on a “strip” basis), WWME-TV (or Me-TV) began airing The Odd Couple weeknights at 11:30 p.m. The sitcom, based on the Neil Simon play (and also spun off a 1968 theatrical featuring Walter Mattheau and Jack Lemmon) debuted in 1970 on ABC and ran five years (with six time period changes) before going into off-net syndication in 1976.
The series featured Tony Randall (as Felix Unger) and longtime dramatic actor Jack Klugman (Oscar Madison) as mis-matched divorced roommates in New York. You know the deal, Unger was the neat photographer, Madison was the sloppy sportswriter and tried to co-exist without driving each other crazy (and as it would turn out, make great comedy.)
The television version was developed by Garry Marshall, who of course, went on to create one of the most successful programs of that era, Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.
The show was a longtime staple of WGN-TV’s lineup until 1987, when it moved to WPWR-TV for a even more successful run. Even though Me-TV recently picked up the show, it has been running for years at Tribune’s WPIX-TV in New York, where it is still immensely popular (it drew a 4 household share last October in its 2 a.m. weeknight time slot.)
The Odd Couple, originally produced and distributed by Paramount, is now syndicated by CBS Television Distribution.
Now, if you thought the recent remakes of Knight Rider and 90210 were bad, take a trip back to 1982 and you’ll find The New Odd Couple on ABC. Only this time the roles of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison were by black actors Ron Glass and Demond Wilson, respectively. It turned out some the scripts used in the new version of Couple were recycled from the original (I’m all for recycling, but come on…) The show expired after thirteen episodes.