The New Odd Couple With Shepherd Book and Lamont Sanford -The Toast

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Were you aware that in 1982, a brief revival of The Odd Couple starring Ron Glass (but really Shepherd from Firefly) and Demond Wilson (but really Lamont from Sanford & Son) aired on ABC?

If so, why did you keep this from me? I’m not angry, but I would like to know.

Here is a terrible VHS recording of the theme song, which is the only clip I could find online of the entire show, complete with a very bad electronic update of the theme song. Ron Glass looks like the Platonic ideal of Felix:

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The phrase “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt” is perhaps bandied about a bit too casually in these modern times, so I will not employ it here, but I want you to know that it is not far from how this makes me feel.

I found this out recently during my yearly rewatching of the original Odd Couple (the movie, not the inferior television show; that’s right, I said it, I think Jack Klugman was only okay in the role and found Tony Randall borderline unloveable, an unforgivable quality in a Felix), during which I learned a great many things. I learned that the theme song has lyrics — terrible lyrics — worse than the lyrics to the Star Trek theme song:

No matter where they go
They are known as the couple.
They’re never seen alone
So they’re known as the couple.

As I’ve indicated
They are never quite separated,
They are peas in a pod.
Don’t you think that it’s odd?

I also learned that The Odd Couple II, also starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon and released in 1998, was the last movie the two of them ever made together and also appeared on a list of sequels with the greatest number of years between the release of the original and the follow-up. But mostly, I learned that ABC produced a Black revival of The Odd Couple in 1982. Let us discuss it now. Have you seen it? Have you heard of it? Doesn’t Ron Glass look wonderful? Wouldn’t he make a wonderful Felix? Felix is the heart of any good Odd Couple. Get the right Felix and your work is more than halfway done. Felix is the key.

The Odd Couple is not a story but an archetype. Updated versions will always be welcome in this broken and sorrowing world, although we should never forget the original (Jack Lemmon will be spared in the future misandrist bloodbath, even though he is already dead). From Wikipedia:

“The show ran for 18 episodes; eight of the episodes used recycled scripts from the original series. By the time the writers began producing new scripts, it was too late, as the show never found an audience. The series was cancelled in 1983.”

I find this remarkable. Imagine, reviving a show that went off the air a scant seven years earlier and using the exact same script for almost half of the episodes. That would be like if an all-Black version of That ’70s Show premiered next week and you tuned in to watch Eric Foreman (Denzel Whitaker) get embarrassingly pantsed during a one-on-one game of basketball with his girlfriend and next-door neighbor, Donna (Adepero Oduye). God, I would watch the shit out of that show.

If you have any copies of The New Odd Couple, please send them to me.

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