Sunday, July 09, 2006

So Time/Life Makes Everything Now?

Another old series is being released on DVD by Time/Life (which may or may not offer the Thighmaster as a bonus gift): "The Odd Couple": The Complete First Season. Co-creator Garry Marshall provides "audio introductions" for the episodes, and there are some bits of found material included as additional special features (award-show clips and the like).

With this show, you have to accept that the first season is just a down payment on good things to come: it was one of those shows that got not only better but a lot better after the first season. Originally the show was much more closely tied to the stage and movie versions of The Odd Couple, with more characters carried over (like the Pigeon sisters), and some of the same sets that were used in the movie. It was shot one-camera with no studio audience and a laugh track.

In the second season, on the insistence of the actors (especially Tony Randall), the show started filming in front of a live studio audience, and the set was re-designed to accommodate the audience. This was exactly the kind of re-vamp that would kill Marshall's "Happy Days" creatively (certainly not ratings-wise, though), but it had the opposite effect for "The Odd Couple," because Randall and Jack Klugman came to life when they could play off the studio audience reactions. From the second season on, the comedy was sharper and better-timed, and the actors developed their characters far beyond what they had been in the movie and stage play -- the end result was a show that was much more interesting and multi-dimensional than its source material.


Scott said...

Let us hope that The Odd Couple makes it as far as season two on DVD. More and more, there seems to be less assurance of that happening with a series.

John said...

The show didn't hit it's stride until about 4-5 shows into Season 2, and then the third and fourth seasons were on average about as good a run as any show has had of strong episodes in TV history. But fans who want those seasons to make it to DVD will probably have to dig down and shell out the cash for Season 1, just to make sure Paramount (with or without Time/Life) follows through with the remaining four years of shows.