5:30pm PT by Ashley Lee
CBS' 'The Odd Couple': What the Critics Are Saying
The Odd Couple stars Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon as Oscar and Felix, two men who find themselves living together after their marriages fall apart.
CBS' take on the opposing-male tale — also featuring Yvette Nicole Brown, Wendell Pierce and Lindsay Sloane — aims to update the original 1970-1975 series, which was based on the 1968 movie starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon that was rooted in Neil Simon's 1965 Broadway play.
See what top critics are saying about The Odd Couple's pilot:
The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman writes, "In a lot of ways, The Odd Couple works — though comparisons to the original will inevitably be unfavorable. ... I don’t think the pilot screams: 'Let’s watch the next 10 episodes right now,' but again, if you’re taking the long view here, then there’s room for optimism, because Perry and Lennon showed real chemistry when they were at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in January. And there’s a fine cast in place. ... 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."
The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley says it "isn’t so bad. It may even work. ... The new show updates the surface details without dissolving the central bond between the two friends. This is Perry’s third attempt at sitcom success after a decade on Friends, and there is an uneasiness to his performance — in some scenes he looks startled, even frightened — that makes it hard to play off Lennon, who seems very comfortable as a nervous nelly. That chemistry could come with time, but even if the show flops, it’s an interesting experiment."
Time's James Poniewozik notes that though the casting is "right" and "inspired," the show "feels somehow more retro than the original. ... The unimaginative result is less a sitcom than a cover band performance, mostly competent but entirely unnecessary. ... To fans of Two and a Half Men not versed in the original, it will probably just seem like a stodgier version of the same concept ... and viewers who loved the original series can surely get their grandkids to show them how to stream the archives on Hulu. Call it re-creation or reboot, rerun or retread, the first episode of The Odd Couple offers little reason to return."
Slate's Willa Paskin explains, "Despite plundering Simon’s original language and bits and pieces from each of the previous adaptations, the new The Odd Couple has no rhythm, mostly for fear of showing two men dancing together too well. ... As homosexuality has become less stigmatized, one might imagine that The Odd Couple would get funnier, having more material to play with and more freedom to do so. Instead, it has only gotten more retro. ... The new versions of Oscar and Felix feel like caricatures, whereas the old versions felt like characters (as in, “what a character!”). The new guys are phonies, a checklist of qualities instead of the grab bag of inconsistencies that make fictional beings feel real."
The Wall Street Journal's Nancy Dewolf Smith says Perry and Lennon's "timing and physicality, and some tart writing, pull the show up like a water-skier behind a motorboat. The bachelor-on-the prowl humor is edgier than it was when Simon's Odd Couple movie, play and TV versions first were made — and even double entendre renders some exchanges unsuitable for recounting in a family newspaper. But the main dividing line here may be between viewers looking for amusing comfort food and those too evolved in their tastes to bother with it."