Monday, December 23, 2013

Year Two. Day Twenty-Three: "The Odd Couple: Scrooge Gets an Oscar" (1970)

"The Odd Couple" began its life as a 1965 stage play that was later turned into a popular 1968 Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon movie vehicle. This series, takes the original premise; two divorced bachelors, deciding to live with each other after many years of growing apart and the myriad of humourous situations that would arise when this mismatched duo are forced to share their living space. It was a hugely successful sitcom that gave birth to the house-share format for TV comedy that lives on today in "The Big Bang Theory" and "New Girl."

Tony Randall stars as Felix, a friendly, responsible man with a penchant for neatness, while Jack Klugman plays the role of Oscar, a grouchy slob of a man who has a good heart, but doesn't always know how to show it. Unsurprisingly it is the latter of this pair who is on Scrooge duties for this charming episode.

Christmas is fast approaching and Felix has gathered his friends to put on a play for the local children; an adaptation of "A Christmas Carol." After several failed attempts at finding a Scrooge, the men elect that there is only one person who could possibly play the role. Unfortunately Oscar point blank refuses, until he falls asleep in front of the TV and dreams that Felix comes to visit him as the ghosts of Christmas, here to show him the error of his ways.

This is a brief but sparkling episode from the first season of this winning show. It is a joy to see how ably the actors have fleshed out their characters, whilst the show itself has already found its feet. The "Christmas Carol" elements are fun and fast and the script is light and funny in a classic old-fashioned sense, replete with canned laughter (it wasn't until season two that the format was switched to a live studio audience.)

This may not be remembered as one of the best or most faithful adaptations of the text, but it's likable enough to be a very welcome 25 minutes of well meaning joviality, with a sweet message at the end of the importance of that most difficult of subjects - friendships between men.

As sparkling as a breakfast bucks fizz.

"The Odd Couple: Scrooge Gets an Oscar." (1970)  4/5

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