TV Review: CBS’ ‘The Odd Couple’

CBS’ The Odd Couple — originally a Neil Simon play turned feature film turned TV series starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall — premieres Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m. The remake stars Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison and Thomas Lennon as Felix Unger. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Smart casting prevents the affair from getting too mechanical: Lennon’s Felix is more Tony Randall than Jack Lemmon, marinated in the clamped-down strangeness that seeped out of his characters on Reno 911! and The State. The actor has a way with temperaments that turn on a dime, and Felix (as well as multi-camera editing) allows him to present a stiff upper lip in one beat, then break down down into a sobbing mess the next.”
Erik AdamsA.V. Club

“Matthew Perry completes his potentially dubious post-Friends hat trick — having starred in comedies for NBC and ABC as well — with this reboot of The Odd Couple, a beloved series that still derives some kick from Neil Simon’s blueprint, but also feels especially dated in this day and age, what with Felix as the nonsexual spouse, essentially, to Oscar’s slovenly husband. Good casting provides some hope, but this still feels oh-so-20th century.”
Brian LowryVariety

“Will this new Odd Couple work? Well, 22 minutes is not enough to say. (Networks really need to be more generous with episodes, especially during midseason.) If the pilot (written by Perry and co-executive producer Joe Keenan) is passable, my guess would be that the pedigree and talent involved will overcome the shortcomings and give viewers something better soon enough. There’s no reason to bet against The Odd Couple, even if you weren’t rooting for a remake.”
Tim GoodmanThe Hollywood Reporter

“And, I'm afraid, it's oddest and saddest of all that Perry is the main reason this Odd Couple fails so miserably. He's an incredibly gifted comic actor, a man whose line readings influenced not just other performers, but everyday speech. But here he seems listless and disconnected from the material, overusing familiar quirks and mannerisms — in particular, a wide-eyed, stupefied stare — to the point of calcification.“
Robert BiancoUSA Today

“I am not ready to write off the show quite yet. Pilots are deceptive, and the thing with characters as extreme as these is that you need to get them out into the world, reacting with something other than whether their shared space is too messy or too neat, or Felix's presence is cramping Oscar's style.”
Robert LloydLos Angeles Times