78. THE ODD COUPLE 

Episode 1, "The Fight of the Felix," Written by Peggy Elliott & Ed Scharlach  

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Aired: ABC, 1970-1975

Neil Simon’s hit Broadway play was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Walter Matthau and Art Carney. The hit film, directed by Gene Saks, again starred Matthau but this time opposite Jack Lemmon. The sitcom, developed by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson, was never a hit in its five seasons. But hearing the names “Oscar and Felix” today, you picture Jack Klugman drying his hands on the kitchen curtains while Tony Randall gives the camera a weary stink eye. If decades of syndication explain why the TV series has overshadowed the stage play and movie, it also suggests the premise was marvelously suited for the sitcom form: Two adult male friends, veterans of their foibles, coming together in beautiful disharmony. The series had masterful old-soul joke writing and the kind of chemistry between its stars that seldom develops. Opposite Klugman’s hangdog notes, Randall’s fussbudget body language was both hilarious and poetic.

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