The Odd Couple is a 1965 Broadway play by Neil Simon, which was later adapted into a 1968 movie, which itself was later adapted into a sitcom which ran from 1970-1975. All three are highly regarded. The play also spawned a couple less highly regarded television adaptations: The Oddball Couple, a 1975 animated series (starring a cartoon dog and cat), The New Odd Couple, a 1982 sitcom with black actors in the lead roles. A third live action series starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon is due in Fall, 2014.Simon has rewritten his original play twice: first in 1981 as The Female Odd Couple, a Gender Flip version of the piece, and again in 2002 as Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple, which is basically the original play updated with more contemporary jokes and references.The premise is simple: Neat Freak photographer Felix Ungarnote Unger in the 1970 TV series (Art Carney on stage, Jack Lemmon on screen, Tony Randall on TV) is kicked out by his wife, and with no place else to go, must move in with his friend, sports writer Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau on stage and screen, Jack Klugman on stage and TV), a Trash of the Titans. The TV show added a small supporting cast, including Murray, a dim-witted but lovable police officer.
555: Oscar's short-lived radio sports show's number is 555-8161.
Actually Pretty Funny: In one episode, Felix is perturbed by Oscar's house guest Wild Willie Boggs (played by Roy Clark) who is prone to making crude practical jokes. He finally confronts him about it. Willie says "Felix, you don't like them because you've never tried them", adding, "Do you want to play a trick on Oscar?" Felix delivers the "about-face" line, says, "No. What?" Willie gives Felix a rubber hot dog to give to Oscar. With insane glee, Felix sets the trap and calls Oscar in for a snack - which of course Oscar just eats as if it were normal, saying, "The bun's a little stale."
Adorkable: Specially on the TV series, Felix takes practically everything, from his habits to his pastimes to his relationships, to extremes, which is why he often finds himself being called a lunatic. In the end, though, his childlike enthusiasm and good heart win out over any annoyance he causes. Felix is especially adorkable when he's happy or excited. In "I'm Dying of Unger", he rolls on the bed like a little kid after tricking Oscar's agent into giving him three more days.
And a Diet Coke: Oscar asks a visiting monk to make him a hamburger. On the burger, he asks for mustard, relish, pickles, hot sauce, peppers and chili. The monk says, "No onions?" Oscar replies, "No, I've got an ulcer."
Anachronism Stew: The flashbacks were mostly set during The Fifties, but some wear afros and sideburns as well as some clothing clearly from The Seventies. This was averted with Felix, who in these occasions usually wore a bowtie and a hat.
Anger Born of Worry: In "Felix is Missing", when Felix comes home exhausted from his day snowbound somewhere, Oscar turns to Murray and tells him, "I'll give you $200 for that gun."
Animals Hate Him: Averted with dogs but played straight with wild animals. During "I'm Dying of Unger", Felix gets bitten by three animals that we know of — a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a frog — and his bandaged fingers testify to other cases. However, this is only due to his status as the show's Butt Monkey and not for any lack of innocence on his part. In fact, he's shown to love the animals who attack him, so this could also be considered a subversion of Friend to All Living Things.
Annoying Laugh: Oscar's secretary, Myrna Turner, laughs in a slow monotone which is both irritating and hilarious.
A Real Man Is a Killer: Lampshaded and inverted in "I'm Dying of Unger". A hungry Oscar tries to shoot a goose, but finds at the last minute he can't do it. He calls himself a coward, but Felix responds that violence is easy; Oscar is more of a man for not doing it.
As Himself: Howard Cosell (twice), Bobby Riggs, Deacon Jones, Rodney Allen Rippy, Allen Ludden, Betty White, Monty Hall (twice), Richard Dawson, David Steinberg, Bob Hope (cameo), and in a Creator Cameo Neil Simon.
Felix was actually one of these, having originally been a minor offstage character in Neil Simon's first play, Come Blow Your Horn.
Murray was originally listed as one of "The Poker Players" but he began to appear more frequently as the series progressed, and not only to play poker.
Aside Glance: In one of the opening credits sequences, there's a bit where Felix directs a long, pointed glance at the camera while Oscar dries his hands on Felix's shirt. Felix does this during several actual episodes as well, such as when Oscar draws a mustache on him with a marker in "You Saved My Life".
Bedmate Reveal: This happens to Felix. It's a long scene with no dialogue that begins with Felix coming home late from work, gargling, putting his PJ's and a sleep mask on and climbing into bed. While on his back a sleeping woman suddenly rolls over and throws her arm around him, while still asleep. He picks up her arm, takes off his mask, sits up, gets out of bed, looks down at her (still asleep) and delivers the only line in the scene: "It's not my birthday...".
Big "Shut Up!": Felix to Oscar in "The Odd Couple Meet Their Host", after Oscar makes fun of his quirks on TV.
Blind Mistake: Felix returns from the hospital wearing a post-op bandage (blindfold) as the result of a sinus procedure. Wanting to freshen the air in the apartment, he mistakenly grabs a can of whipped cream sitting next to the can of Glade. He also goes to the closet and mistakenly puts on his ex-wife Gloria's coat. After Oscar clues him in, Felix says "It fits!"
Book and Switch: During a rehearsal for "A Christmas Carol", one of the characters (Speed) is hiding porn underneath his script and is sort of not paying attention to the rehearsal. He is suddenly asked to read for the part of Scrooge. But he thinks they want him to read the porn. He balks, saying he would be embarrassed. He's coaxed into reading and begins reciting a passage from the porn, to which a very surprised Felix says, "Charles Dickens never wrote that".
Bowling For Ratings: "To Bowl or Not to Bowl," which centers around Oscar's never-before-mentioned bowling team making a run at the championship - potentially without its star player, Felix.
Three different explanations were given for how Felix and Oscar met during the show's run. Depending on which episode you're watching, they either were childhood friends, met while on jury duty, or were Army buddies.
In "You Saved My Life", Felix comments that he's "never considered the possibility of Felix Unger dying", yet the earlier episode "A Grave for Felix" was about Felix losing a grave plot he'd been trying to buy.
The Cat Came Back: Felix-as-Marley falls out the window but when Oscar-as-Scrooge turns around, he's back.
Chaos Architecture: The sets were completely changed when they went from a single camera setup to a studio audience, without the characters moving to a different apartment.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Roy (one of the poker players) as well as Cecily and Gwendolyn (the Pigeon sisters) disappeared after the first season. Later it was the turn for Miriam and Nancy (Felix and Oscar's respective girlfriends).
Comically Small Bribe: Oscar and Felix are trying to get bumped up the waiting list for a space in a mid-town parking garage. Felix tries to "schmooze" the owner (played in a delightful guest shot by John Byner) by coyly displaying some currency:
Control Freak: Felix, who has very precise ideas about things and frequently nags others into going along with them.
Corpsing: Klugman seems to have been particularly prone to this, based not only on the outtakes, but on several episodes in which his slips were concealed or controlled quickly enough that they didn't ruin the scene and were left in (e.g. "Murray the Fink", "Two Men on a Hoarse").
The Couch: There was always a living room couch in the series, but in the first season, which was shot single-camera, it's not terribly prominent. When the show went to three-camera the set was redesigned and the couch, placed squarely facing the fourth wall, finally came into its own.
Courtroom Episode: The time when Felix wouldn't submit a nude picture of Gloria to Playboy, when Murray busted the weekly poker game, when Felix stole a dog that was being mistreated by its handler, and when Felix was accused of scalping a theatre ticket.
Crazy Jealous Guy: Felix in regards to his ex-wife Gloria. He goes into a jealous rage whenever she shows - or he imagines she shows - any interest in another man. He once pointed out his jealousy was one of the reasons Gloria dumped him.
Creator Cameo: Neil Simon (who reportedly hated the first season of the TV version of his play, but grew to like it as they went to a studio audience from season two on) makes a brief cameo in "Two on the Aisle".
Dartboard of Hate: In the episode "Two on the Aisle", Oscar makes one out of the blowup of Felix's face with the cartoon bubble "Thanks" that he received from a grateful Felix in "You Saved My Life".
Dating Service Disaster: Before the internet — before PC's even — there was computer dating, believe it or not. In a episode which aired circa 1971, Oscar signs up with a computer dating service and embellishes his bio. He winds up matched with Felix's ex-wife.
Demoted to Extra: Two of the poker buddies, Vinnie and "Speed", appeared in less and less episodes in later seasons.
Divorce Is Temporary: For Felix Unger in the TV adaptation. The final episode of the series, "Felix Remarries" (aired March 7, 1975), sees him make one final, desperate attempt to win back Gloria, the wife he loved but who couldn't stand him due to his finicky nature. Felix realizes that, while it is good to be clean and organized, he also needs to relax. Gloria accepts that Felix has changed ... and the two are wed (for a second time) in the apartment.
The Door Slams You: Oscar slams the door on Felix multiple times when he is hanging in a sling to relax his back.
Elevator Failure: This happened at the end of the Rogue Juror episode. Unfortunately, the defendant got stuck in the elevator with Felix.
End of Episode Silliness: Both Randall and Klugman reportedly hated doing the last little tag scene, feeling that its only reason for existence was to make viewers sit through one more commercial following the announcement "The Odd Couple will be back after these messages.".
Epic Fail: Guest star Bobby Riggs challenges Oscar to type his name in ten seconds. Oscar does it in three seconds, but writes "Oscar Madisoy". Bobby then gives him another opportunity. Unfortunately Oscar now types his name as "Oscar Madisox".
A Fool for a Client: Felix always wants to represent himself in court and is nearly always incompetent at it. There is one spectacular exception when he questions an assuming accuser:
Felix: When you ASSUME....you make an ASS out of U and ME!
And even then, Felix doesn't know when to quit until he has angered the judge enough for him to indict both Felix and Oscar with contempt of court.
Forgotten First Meeting: In one of the several versions of how Felix and Oscar first met, it was when Oscar's father ran a speakeasy in 1920s Chicago and Felix's father was an optometrist who fitted Oscar's father with glasses.
Harpo Does Something Funny: Some scripts were like this, allowing Tony Randall and Jack Klugman to improvise. For example, a script might say "Oscar teaches Felix how to play football."
Helping Granny Cross the Street: During the opening credits montage we see an old lady who is being helped across the street by a scout. Felix approaches them and offers to do it instead. He gets quite insistent, so the granny hits him with her handbag to make him let go and the scout slugs him too.
Heroes Love Dogs: Felix adores dogs, if the fact that he owned one while married, pampered a racing greyhound in "Leave the Greyhounds to Us", and took a dog from an abusive owner says anything.
Hilarious Outtakes: The first season DVD set included a very short gag reel; a different, much longer one was included with every copy of Tony and Me, the book Jack Klugman wrote about his friendship with Tony Randall. Flubbed lines, corpsing, fake make-out sessions (to aggravate certain homophobic network execs) and general tomfoolery abound.
Hypochondria: Felix is a self-confessed hypochondriac, though it's more of an Informed Attribute since every time a doctor is called to treat Felix, it's because he really is sick (typically something allergy-related). The trait is downplayed as the series goes on.
Hypno Fool: In one episode Oscar starts getting serious with a girl who objects to his sloppiness, so Felix gets Dr. Sidney Freeman to hypnotize him into being neat.
I'll Kill You!: Oscar to Felix, several times. In "Felix is Missing", it becomes a plot point when the police finger Oscar as prime suspect thanks to all his "threats." Felix also did this to Oscar after Oscar made a comedy routine out of his habits on TV.
I Owe You My Life: Oscar saves Felix from falling eleven-or-so stories to his death in "You Saved My Life." Felix spends the rest of the episode thanking Oscar for it, much to Oscar's increasing annoyance.
Ignore The Disability: When Felix photographs a family of little people, he develops a complex etiquette for his friends for fear they might offend them. However, when the time comes to take the picture he shouts: "Everybody say 'midget'!"
Innocently Insensitive: Felix tends to insult people's best efforts, albeit in a way which suggests he appreciates it, but it's not good enough. This makes him difficult to live with.
Instrumental Theme Tune: A jazzy number composed by Neal Hefti and used for both the film and series. Rather fittingly, Jack Klugman said in interviews that he loved it but Tony Randall hated it.
Intimidating Revenue Service: In "The Ides of April," Felix is summoned to the IRS office and he thinks he's in serious trouble. It turns out that he simply forgot to sign a check, but Felix accidentally lets it slip that Oscar has been filing shady tax returns and so now Oscar is the one getting an audit.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Oscar, in the series, is cynical, insensitive, hot-tempered, occasionally vindictive and habitually dishonest. The latter is due to irresponsibility rather than malice, however, and under his thoughtless exterior is a loyal, caring, tolerant and very forgiving man.
Felix (in his late 40s-early 50s) and Gloria (in her late 30s)
Oscar (about the same age as Felix) and most of his girlfriends (none above 30).
Jury Duty: A flashback episode featured future roommates Oscar and Felix meeting as fellow jurors in a parody of 12 Angry Men with Felix in the Fonda role. Interestingly Jack Klugman (Oscar) played one of Fonda's fellow "Angry Men" in the original movie.
Kissing The Ground: Felix kisses the floor of the apartment (and his luggage, and other things) after getting off a plane. The flight wasn't rough, but Felix is afraid of flying.
Large Ham: Felix was prone to get into this territory.
Laugh Track: For the show's first season only. Nobody liked it, up to and including Neil Simon. Randall and Klugman especially despised it and campaigned hard for moving to three-camera comedy with a Studio Audience.
It was still used for sweetening for the rest of the series, though.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In an episode in which Oscar teaches the basics of football to Felix, Felix takes the ball, races down the hallway towards the bedrooms, and mere seconds later appears at the apartment door, ringing the buzzer. Impossible if the set were "real" (obviously, Tony Randall merely ran around the back of the set). It's not lampshaded in the dialogue, but the audience reaction of spontaneous applause seems to show that they grasped the absurdity. An odd gag in a show that normally eschewed such shenanigans.
Little Known Facts: Felix does this all the time in the series: "The opposite of brown is purple", "Millard Fillmore knew less about opera than any other President - except of course for Rutherford B. Hayes". Most notably causes him problems during Password. "It's a well known fact that Lincoln loved mayonnaise!"
Lost Him in a Card Game: Oscar loses Felix to guest star Bobby Riggs as a glorified butler. Oscar offers to try to win his freedom back but Felix wins it back himself by holding a note longer than Riggs.
Oscar: I'll win you back, buddy!
Felix: No you won't. You'll lose double or nothing and I'll have to bring in my brother from Buffalo!
In the film version, Oscar misses seeing a rare triple play when Felix phones him at the ballpark press box.
In an episode of the series, Felix tries to take a reaction shot of Oscar as he watches a ballgame and snaps the flash during an important moment. Oscar tries to watch the replay - and Felix accidentally sets off the flash in his eyes again.
Moment Killer: Felix would sometimes arrive home early "not feeling well" and disrupt the romantic mood, much to Oscar's consternation. At the end of "Felix Gets Sick", Oscar pretends he's ill to return the favor but finds that Felix is too nice about the disruption for revenge to be sweet.
Neat Freak: Felix. When he was married, his wife would clean the house and a maid would come in once a week to clean some more, but he still felt compelled to get up in the middle of the night and clean everything all over again.
Never Say "Die": In "Felix is Missing", Murray is reluctant to come out and ask Oscar to come down and identify what he thinks is Felix's body. When pressed for what's going on, he says, "He's in the morgue!"
Old Friend: The premise of the series. The series also offers at least three different stories about how they met: once it says they're childhood friends, later it claims they met when both were on jury duty, and a later episode says they met not long before Felix met Gloria.
OOC Is Serious Business: In "Sleepwalking", Oscar is startled when Felix says he entered his room after having a "dream" that Oscar hit him on the head.
Opening Narration: "On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend, Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"
Paid-For Family: Felix hires people to play Oscar's family when he runs for City Council.
Panicky Expectant Father: Felix in "The Baby Story". Oscar becomes a Panicky Expectant Uncle when his heavily pregnant niece turns up at the apartment.
Parental Love Song: In "The Paul Williams Story", Paul Williams writes a song based on the words Felix wanted to say to his runaway daughter. It brings them back together again.
Poker: The movie, sitcom and original play featured a weekly poker game at Oscar's apartment. The genderflipped stage version makes it a weekly Trivial Pursuit game instead.
Precious Puppies: "And Leave the Greyhound to Us?", "The Dog Story" and "The Subway Story" all center around dogs. The latter features a particularly adorable pup named Yawbus ("Subway" spelled backwards).
Psmith Psyndrome: Myrna's boyfriend Sheldn, who owes the unique spelling of his name to a clerical error. He can tell when you add in the missing O.
The Rashomon: "A Night to Dismember," in which Blanche, Oscar and Felix all share their versions of what happened the night that Oscar and Blanche split up.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Randall was involved with a committee to clean up New York City's tarnished image (while the series was taped in California, Randall kept a residence in NY). This led to the episode "The Subway Story" in which Felix tries to counteract negative NYC stereotypes that Oscar wrote in his column.
Recycled INSPACE: The New Odd Couple is the exact same show... but the two leads were African-American, with Ron Glass and Demond Wilson as Felix and Oscar respectively.
Slobs Versus Snobs: The TV series in particular often featured this, with Felix in the snob role and Oscar (naturally) as the slob.
Softer And Slower Cover: Felix writes a bouncy, upbeat song for Jaye P. Morgan, but she performs it in a slow, dramatic style instead.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Oscar is elated when his ex-wife, Blanche, decides to remarry, as it means he'll no longer have to pay alimony. However, when the minister says the line during the ceremony, Felix objects, because he feels Blanche is marrying the wrong man. The next scene shows the angrily brooding Oscar, at home later that day, playing a recording of the wedding on his turntable, and lifting the needle to hear Felix's "I object" over and over. Then Felix comes home from the church.
Felix: I stayed for the funeral. Oscar: What'd you do, stand up in the middle and say "I object, this man is not dead"?
The wedding is rescheduled for the next day, and when the same part of the ceremony is reached, the same objection is raised... this time by Oscar himself, who, in spite of everything, realizes that Felix was right and he can't let this continue.
Special Guest: Howard Cosell, Monty Hall, Deacon Jones, Bubba Smith, Edward Vilella, Martina Arroyo, Jaye P. Morgan and... Neil Simon!
Stage Owner: Felix gets Mr. Hugo to admit that this is why he works his dog so hard in "The Dog Story."
Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: In "This is the Army, Mrs. Madison", Felix purposely leaves a chastised Oscar "sitting alone in his bunk" when he knows Blanche is about to come in. He lampshades it, saying that he had to report the thing that got Oscar in trouble, but if he doesn't see this, he doesn't have to report it.
The Stool Pigeon: Felix's father during the Prohibition Chicago flashback episode. Too bad the police chief was on the take.
Straight Man: Usually Oscar, but Felix could make a few jokes at Oscar's expense, too. What made the characters so well-regarded in every incarnation was that there WAS no straight man: both exhibit extreme tendencies of their respective personalities (Felix being a control freak and Oscar being too laid-back) and the conflicts usually resulted from one being more extreme than the other in a given situation. As a result, the viewer or occasional third party character is the Only Sane Man.
Straw Loser: Once Oscar took the money for Felix's grave slot to bet on a horse. Said horse started off well, but ended up last, not even getting to finish by the time the race ended.
Subways Suck: Virtually any sitcom set in New York will pull this one at least once. "The Subway Story" features Felix and Oscar getting trapped in a broken subway car; wacky antics and heartwarming moments ensue.
Tantrum Throwing: Just as an argument is getting particularly heated, Oscar refers to Felix making spaghetti for dinner, and Felix starts laughing:
Oscar: What's so funny? Felix: That's not spaghetti. It's linguine. [Oscar grabs the plate of linguine and flings against the wall on the far side of the kitchen.] Oscar: Now, it's garbage.
Unplanned Crossdressing: In one episode Felix has a bandage over his eyes due to recent surgery. When Oscar throws him out, he stumbles to the closet and puts on what he thinks is his coat, but is actually his ex-wife Gloria's.
Washy Watchy: In the first episode of the television show, Gwendolyn and Felix watch a washing machine this way during their double date.
What Happened to the Mouse?: After the events of "The Subway Story" Felix presents Oscar with a puppy named Yawbus, who never appears again.
Whole Episode Flashback: To: how Oscar and Felix met (several different versions!), how Felix and Gloria met, Felix photographing Gloria for a Playboy centerfold, Oscar and Blanche's wedding, the birth of Felix's daughter, the night on which Oscar and Blanche split up, and the vacation on which Felix and Gloria's marriage hit the rocks.
World War II: Both Felix and Oscar are mentioned as being WWII veterans (Unger in Anzio, Madison at Guadalcanal), much like Tony Randall and Jack Klugman in Real Life.
Written-In Infirmity: Klugman and Randall took on the roles again in a series of potato chip commercials, all of which had to be written around Klugman's nearly non-existent voice after his heavy smoking resulted in him losing a vocal cord. Then a reunion movie was made, by which time Klugman had regained some volume, but still spoke in an extremely raspy and wheezy voice, so Oscar is said to have recently had a throat operation.
Yet Another Christmas Carol: "Scrooge Gets an Oscar," with Oscar as Scrooge, Felix as Marley and Cratchit, Murray as Tiny Tim and the other poker players in miscellaneous roles.
For Oscar - lasagna and french fries, cookies and ketchup, salami and jelly on rye. The final episode reveals that Oscar is also partial to Goop Melange. We're never really told what it is, only that it contains food Felix hates, and that athletes train on it. Athletes like Man O' War, Citation, Whirlaway...
In the first Howard Cosell episode, Oscar mentions his favorite dessert is Boston Cream Pie.
In one of his attempts to win Gloria back, Felix cooks a romantic dinner, listing all the dishes and labeling them as her favorites. Oscar notes that they are actually Felix's favorite dishes, not Gloria's, to which Felix says she'll learn to love them too.
You're Insane!: In the play, after Oscar snatches the plate of linguini and senselessly throws it against the kitchen wall:
Felix: You are crazy! I'm a neurotic nut but you are crazy! Oscar: I'm crazy, heh? That's really funny coming from a fruitcake like you.
Your Mom: Felix lets loose with "Your mother wears army boots!" when critic John Simon criticizes the theatre reviews Felix ghost wrote for Oscar.