Based on the Neil Simon Play and the 1968 hit film, in 1970 Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson developed The Odd Couple into a successful television series. Tony Randall plays the proper, fastidious photographer Felix Unger and Jack Klugman portrays the gruff, sloppy Oscar Madison, sportswriter for the New York Herald. Felix is a compulsive neat freak; Oscar views the floor as his personal dumping ground.
The Odd Couple was never a huge ratings success during the series initial run. The show was never in the top twenty of the Nielsen ratings and occupied six different time slots during the series five year run. In syndication, The Odd Couple gained a loyal following and became a fan favorite.
The third season of The Odd Couple produced some of the series strongest episodes. Howard Cosell plays himself in “Big Mouth.” Oscar is forced to apologize to the sportscaster after he insults Howard during Felix’s photo shoot. “Password” is one of the funniest episodes of The Odd Couple ever filmed. When Password host Allen Ludden (appearing as himself), asks Oscar to appear on the show, Felix pesters Oscar to let him be his partner. The partnership is an unqualified disaster and Betty White just adds to the fun. Continuing the game show theme, in “Let’s Make A Deal,” after burning Felix’s bed, Oscar suggests the twosome appear on Lets Make A Deal, hosted by Oscar’s old college buddy, Monty Hall. Movie star Jean Simmons (Spartacus) makes a guest appearance in “The Princess” as Princess Lydia of Lichtenburg who is being photographed by Felix and Oscar is falling in love with her. Tony Randall’s co-star from Mr. Peepers Wally Cox, guest stars on “The Pen is Mightier Than the Pencil” as an amateur writer when Felix decides to take a writing course.
The plethora of notable guest stars helps The Odd Couple: Third Season standout. However, some of the episodes that focus on the casts regular players are some of the season’s best. “The Odd Monks” finds Felix and Oscar at a monks retreat, exhausted from the pressures of the real world. In “The First Baby,” Oscar retells the story of how Felix’s anxiety got him banned from the hospital after Edna’s birth thirteen years before. In “I Gotta Be Me,” Felix and Oscar try role reversal in an effort to stop their constant bickering.
While Tony Randall and Jack Klugman are the main force behind The Odd Couple’s successful third season, several recurring characters bring great acting and comedic skills to the table. Penny Marshall appears regularly as Oscar’s slow, dimwitted secretary Myrna Turner; Al Molinaro plays Murray Greshler, a good natured cop who becomes the guys’ roommate for a time. Elinor Donahue (Father Knows Best) stars in the recurring role of Felix’s girl friend Miriam Welby.
Friendship is what makes The Odd Couple such a successful show. Even though Felix and Oscar are so obviously different, their affection for each other always comes through. When the chips are down, they are going to defend each other to the max.
The top notch writing and acting by all involved makes The Odd Couple: The Third Season a must own for both fans of the series and smartly written comedy. There isn’t one truly bad episode in the four disc The Odd Couple: The Third Season. All twenty three episodes are great, a few are classics.
The DVD itself is presented in full screen format. The picture quality is decent, aside from some graininess here and there. The audio is presented in Dolby digital mono. As is the case with many of these sets, there are no special features included.