As a television critic, you can sometimes look at a show and think "Hey, not for me. But I can see why X person might like it." Everyone has different tastes and I'm hopefully smart enough to realize that while I'd rather have my entrails spread
across the desert by rabid wolves than watch another episode of "Love & Hip Hop," the show has a loyal audience and I have to respect that.
But what really pisses me off are the shows that aren't just bad, they're aggressively inept. The stinking piles of programming goo that seem to only exist because the network already owned the rights to the show. Or because they wanted to "work with" a bankable star and just threw together some clumsy, soulless project Frankenstein-style in the basement of whatever Hollywood building is in charge of cranking out monumental wastes of time. These are the shows that you watch and think to yourself, "Hey, I'm no expert. But how can any room full of thirtysometing TV execs not see this and instantly scream for it all to stop?"
Which brings us to the new CBS "reboot" of the classic sitcom "The Odd Couple."
The original series, starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, ran for five seasons back in the 1970s. That version is justifiably remembered as a solid piece of comedy and on an abstract level I can understand why some executive might think it would be worth an update. But once you get into the idea, it's pretty clear that there is no creative reason to update the show. Sure, "The Odd Couple" is a great idea, but it's also a project that's a reflection of a specific time in America. The humor, the premise, the interaction between the Felix and Oscar are all elements that can only exist in that now-imaginary Neil Simon New York City. Remaking "The Odd Couple" makes about as much sense as deciding you want to reboot "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Aside from the obvious problem that you wouldn't have Mary Tyler Moore, the elements of that show that made Mary a reflection of her time seem passe and almost laughable in 2015.
This version finds Matthew Perry as slob Oscar Madison and Thomas Lennon as uptight neat freak Felix Unger. The premise has updated slightly, with Perry now a sports talk show host who works from home. Lesley Sloane has also been cast as the sexy neighbor and she manages to steal every scene she's in. Granted, having the best lines in a show this bad is a bit like being the most entertaining Amish farmer on Facebook.
I like Matthew Perry and thought that NBC should have picked up "Go On" for a second season. Instead, he's trapped in this role he's not suited for inside a show that is both creaky and unimaginative. The first episode has no heart and very few laughs. In fact, the biggest laugh is a punchline that is drawn from the original Broadway version of the show. A desperate act which is either a reflection of Neil Simon's joke-writing ability or of the current writing staff's inability to craft a joke with a working punchline.
"The Odd Couple" is terrible. Okay, I really want to say it sucks, but that's not professional. Ah, to hell with it.
Man, "The Odd Couple" really sucks.