Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pilot Review: The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple (CBS)
Premiered February 19 at 8:30pm

It’s common practice these days for old shows to be remade, but there has to be some thought put in about whether it’s worthwhile, and, more importantly, relevant to bring something back that hasn’t been on for a long time. What makes 2015 the right time for CBS to re-launch “The Odd Couple,” this time with Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon as its stars? It’s a true mystery, and not one that leads to a great place. This is Perry’s fourth time anchoring a show since “Friends” ended a little over a decade ago, and none of his previous efforts has lasted more than a season. This is his first time on CBS after two failed NBC productions and another on ABC. Lennon, who made a name for himself as one of the funnier and more ridiculous personalities from “Reno 911,” had a miserable stint on “Sean Saves the World” but hasn’t done much in the way of regular TV since. I would have thought that CBS learned its lesson from “How to Be a Gentleman,” a show I liked but no one else did, which featured a neat freak who is impossibly and anachronistically proper trying to curb the brutish instincts of someone with considerably less regard for other people. Very little here is funny, and Perry experiences the same problem he’s had since playing Chandler Bing elsewhere: when he’s not endearing, he just seems mean rather than sarcastic, and Felix is just that. Lennon’s Oscar is horrendously over-the-top, and it’s hard to take the show seriously enough to come close to enjoying it. Wendell Pierce and Lindsay Sloane are trapped in supporting roles that don’t allow them to be as funny as they want to be, but they still act as de facto show savers to an extent. Unfortunately, there’s just not much worth saving here.

How will it work as a series? The original 1970s show ran for five seasons and was very popular. This show could theoretically milk any number of bad roommate plotlines from the sitcom catalog, particularly with the technology Felix has in his apartment that permits Oscar to transform his sports ticker into an electronic message display signed “F.U.” That kind of humor isn’t going to bode well for this show’s future.
How long will it last? Possibly longer than it deserves to, but I think the unexpectedly solid ratings it achieved for its pilot will drop drastically over the next few weeks since the series finale of “Two and a Half Men” likely gave it a big boost. I wouldn’t count on this one making it to next season, but it may manage to air the entirety of its first season.

Pilot grade: F

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