TCA 2015: CBS’ ‘The Odd Couple': Old premise, new guys, new jokes

Thomas Lennon and Matthew Perry
Thomas Lennon, left, and Matthew Perry speak onstage during “The Odd Couple” panel as part of the TCA press tour in Pasadena on Monday. The new CBS series, in which Lennon will play Felix Unger and Perry will play Oscar Madison, will premiere Feb. 19.
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

The boys are back in town.

Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, the iconic characters from the hit comedy “The Odd Couple,” are returning for the umpteenth time -- this time with Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon stepping into the familiar roles.

Perry, who gained fame on “Friends,” said he had thought of reviving the series several months ago, and then discovered that CBS was developing the property. He got involved, and is one of the executive producers as well as a lead, playing the slovenly Oscar as a sports radio talk show host.

The new show premieres Feb. 19.


“I really thought it would be great to remake it,” he said during a session for the show at the Television Critics Assn. press tour. The show co-stars Yvette Nicole Brow (“Community”) and Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”).

But this isn’t going to be your father’s or grandfather’s “Odd Couple.” The new series will grapple with issues such as sex. And, unlike the previous versions, the new series will have female writers.

“This is such an elastic concept,” said Bob Daily, the series’ showrunner and an executive producer. “The DNA has crept into all of television for the last four decades. ‘Frasier’ was basically one Oscar and two Felixes. We’re going back to the source material, but this will be a new version.”

On board as an executive consultant is Garry Marshall, who produced the 1970s TV version, which was based on Neil Simon’s stage play. That show starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.


Marshall said the key to any version of “The Odd Couple” is chemistry, and that he was very impressed by the interaction between Perry and Lennon. “This casting is tremendous,” he said.

The show will be Perry’s first since two high-profile failures, “Mr. Sunshine” and “Go On.”

Perry said that even though those two comedies didn’t work, he was still proud of them: “They had their moments.”

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