The stage play that this new CBS sitcom is based on (or at least the stage play that the sitcom that this sitcom is based on is based on) is so well written that it can be done now and still work on sheer entertainment value. But when you strip away the actual Neil Simon of it all, what you’re left with is a conceit that’s wildly dated by virtue of having been copied so many times by now. Currently in season four, The Exes over on TVLand is pretty much this exact show with a more central female character and two Oscar figures (one his slob side, one the ladies man). Underrated bubble show Undateable is basically The Odd Couple with a stronger supporting cast (Funches!). So, without Neil Simon in the writer’s room, what’s the virtue of yet another modern day Oscar and Felix?
So far this more direct adaptation is pretty terrible (really rough laugh track, very little sense of purpose) but I said the same thing about Go On a few seasons back and wrote then about how I would stick with the show out of blind loyalty to Matthew Perry. I dutifully watch the work of all the Friends alum but Chandler will always have a particularly special place in my heart. He’d have to, to explain why I’m still going to see this show through even after canceled Matthew Perry series after canceled Matthew Perry series. The thing is, even though every Matthew Perry show seems to get canceled pretty quickly and many of them have started off terribly (this one absolutely not excepted), most have actually turned into something I really liked before biting the dust. Mr. Sunshine was pretty special with a really unique tone and, by the time Go On was canceled, I was an unabashed fan, even though I’d hated it in the beginning (that cast was really pretty great. Poor John Cho, why won’t anyone give that guy a break?!). The Odd Couple is improving a lot slower than those two series and is likely the first Perry show since Studio 60 to really earn its demise (I’m sorry, Aaron; the pilot was great!) but Lindsay Sloane’s sadsack sweetheart character has definitely grown on me so at least that’s some forward momentum.
I need a lot more chemistry from the leads if this show is going to go, and a fresh twist on what is now a tired concept. Mostly I just need Oscar to fire his assistant so Yvette Nicole Brown can go over to Yahoo where she belongs.