'The Odd Couple - The Fourth Season'
(Tony Randall, Jack Klugman, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / Paramount)
Overview: Two divorced New Yorkers - a slob and a fussbudget - try to live together without driving each other crazy' in this classic sitcom based on Neil Simon's hit play and movie. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall won Emmys in the leads the latter in the final year of a five-season run.
DVD Verdict: You want guest stars?! You want big names?! Ok, well, just two months after their epic "Battle of the Sexes" drew the largest-ever live audience for a tennis match, Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King squared off against each other at the ping-pong table in the episode, "The Pig Who Came to Dinner." Ballet superstar Edward Villella performs in "Last Tango in Newark" and Marilyn Horn, as a baker with an operatic voice and an unrequited crush on Oscar, sings selections from Carmen, as well as "People," in "Vocal Girl Makes Good."
"The Songwriter" features legendary disc jockey Wolfman Jack and entertainer Jaye P. Morgan, who performs the ever-popular Felix-penned ditty, "Happy and Peppy and Bursting with Love." Playboy emperor Hugh Hefner drops in for the flashback episode, "One for the Bunny," in which a jealous Felix is undone when he must photograph his future wife, Gloria, for a possible Playmate spread!
How about them star-studded apples?! For me some of the seasonís best episodes are the ones that go back to the basics of Neil Simonís warhorse play: Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy? In "The Insomniac," Felix cannot get to sleep ("Iím up as a pup") despite Oscarís best efforts. In "Cleanliness is Next to Impossible," Felix hypnotizes the unwitting Oscar into becoming a neat freak after Oscarís new girlfriend calls him sloppy (Felixís heartbreak at having to bring Oscar out of it is palpable. "Itís like a dream come true," he moans).
Elinor Donahueís Miriam, Felixís girlfriend, is conveniently forgotten in the episodes in which Felix tries to win back his ex-wife ("Gloria Moves In"). Zinger-queen Brett Somers also returns as Oscarís ex-wife, Blanche, in flashback episodes that continue to play havoc with Felix and Oscarís backstory (so now they were in the Army together?) Randall, Klugman and company (including Penny Marshall as Oscarís secretary, Myrna) clearly relish playing to their enthusiastic live audience, and this richly entertaining season is brimming with classic moments and bits of comic business that continue to bring down the house.
So, here's a tip of the hat to Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. They had a chemistry going that does not come along often. I back-up that statement by asking this question, had one or the other left the series could another actor step in? Randall sets it up and Klugman knocks it down - the result; laughter all around! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs but does not come with any Special Features.