Spring 2015 Review: The Odd Couple

9 Mar

The Odd Couple

You know the story of The Odd Couple. There’s a slob, there’s an uptight neat freak, they’re friends, they live together, and though they can’t stand each other often, they somehow recognize that they could each use a bit of what the other has to offer. Both are recently divorced. Oscar is a mess and helps Felix loosen up, while Felix helps Oscar get his life together. Oh, and there’s that theme song. You’ve probably heard it before.

Last year, I described the very forgotten Sean Hayes sitcom Sean Saves the World as a Sitcom, with an emphasis on the capital S. What I meant is that it seemed to pride itself on ignoring any changes in the world of TV comedy that have occurred over the past decade and instead doubled down on being as old-fashioned and classic as possible, not just in content but in form and look. The Sitcom works  this way not just because it thinks this is the best and funniest way to tell its story, though it might well, but also because it’s a statement of belief in what a sitcom should be. As someone who has lauded the direction comedy has gone in the past ten years, I’m generally not a big fan of Sitcoms.

The Odd Couple is another Sitcom. To someone who has now moved on past the generational divide of sitcoms, to The Office and Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock and others, The Odd Couple is nearly unwatchable. The laughs and the laugh tracks are loud. There’s so much laugh track, and I won’t expound further on just how much I absolutely despise laugh tracks but my opinion remains as true as ever. The laugh track is obtrusive and sets the tone. A laugh track is an essential part of a Sitcom .

The two primary stars talk in minor insults to one another and there are what feels like 30 seconds between each line, each of which is an attempt at big joke. These long spaces give the audience a chance to process, realize that it was a joke (thanks, laugh track!) and laugh as much as they need to before the show can move forward. The characters are ridiculous exaggerations, and not in a good way, particularly Thomas Lennon’s Felix, who is so uptight and anal that it makes the show difficult to watch at times without any of the hilarious payoff of a good awkward British sitcom. That’s still giving enough credit to what an insane weirdo they make him.  It’s too much by several times; way beyond merely being uptight and sensitive. The Odd Couple is just too much of everything. There’s a handful of Oscar’s friends who show up and make jokes about their wives, and how much they can’t do cool man sports things because of them. Hey-O! You don’t get more TV regressive than that.

There’s no subtlety. There’s no banter, because you can’t have banter when you have to wait this long between any levels. It’s nothing but big broad obvious humor that isn’t funny at all.

Will I watch it again? No. Never. It was pretty painful to get through.

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