On Nov. 13…..

….Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that someday he would return to her.

With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend, Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison’s wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?”

 

I didn’t even have to look that up. “The Odd Couple” was such an integral part of my life — and that of anyone else who grew Odd Copuleup in New York in the 1970s. Of course, depending on which episode you watched, Felix and Oscar were not “childhood friends.” In one episode, they met in the Army. In another, they met during jury duty. But like the inconsistencies in “The Honeymooners,” it didn’t much matter. It was a great show.

It was definitely a “New York show,” which is why I don’t think it did very well in the national TV ratings, but it has become a TV classic. Watching it now, the thing that strikes me most is the writing. I listen to the dialogue on, say, “Two and a Half Men” or “How I Met Your Mother” and the writing isn’t even close to the sitcoms of the 1970s. And the writing on “The Odd Couple” was clearly some of the best. Not only was the writing more clever, more erudite, but it was also filled with cultural, historical and artistic references that you used to understand if you had a public school eduction. That, of course, is no more.

And, of course, there was Felix’s love of opera and Oscar’s love of sports, which brought such guest stars as Martina Arroyo, Richard Fredericks, Edward Vilella, Howard Cosell, Bubba Smith, and, of course, Neil Simon, author of the original play, “The Odd Couple.”

I saw the Broadway revival in London in the mid-1990s, with both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, but it wasn’t the same. And, sadly, Tony Randall came into my deli once and was a real jerk (at least to me). That really hurt.

But it was a great show, with great writing and great cultural references. It was, sadly, what TV used to be.

So take a bow — and Rest in Peace — Jack Klugman, aka Oscar Madisox….err Oscar Madisoy….I mean Oscar Madison.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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