The total title of this post was going to be “Let’s Get This Friend a Friendlier Show with Humor”. It could also have been “Fools Rush In to Watch This Bad Show”. Or “The One Where Chandler is the Bad Actor”, or “Go On, Change the Channel. Everyone Else Is”. I’m going to stop there, but Matthew Perry’s filmography just leads to a plethora of bad titles for a review of The Odd Couple, his latest attempt at a second act on television. And the real sad thing is that as bad as most of the titles are, they are funnier than the show itself is.
I like Matthew Perry, I really do. Chandler Bing was always my favorite friend. In fact Chandler was the only friend I thought I could be friends with. I really don’t know why, I mean I’m just not a fan of sarcasm, not at all. I never find myself using humor to release the tension in a situation. And I’ve never found myself getting in trouble because I was a little too quick with a retort. Okay, maybe I like Matthew Perry, because I identified just a little too much with Chandler Bing. So I want him to succeed, I really do. And I thought his show Go On wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. But his latest isn’t great, it’s just bad.
Part of the problem with the show is, that we really don’t need it. I mean the original Odd Couple movie with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau was borderline comic genius and then came the original television series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman that had, if possible, even better comic timing. But those were in the late 60’s and early 70’s and the idea of oil and water being mixed wasn’t the premise of half the television shows. But now it’s 2015 and that is the premise of almost every other show, especially in the sitcom world. Think about the other shows that CBS has had on their Thursday night line-up this season…… Two and a Half Men, Mom, Mike and Molly, The Miller’s and the reigning king of the sitcom world The Big Bang Theory. They’re all variations of odd couples. But they have a twist, a catch, a different voice. This doesn’t have a twist, a catch or even a new voice……it’s Chandler with a new roommate and we want Chandler to only live with Joey or Monica.
Now I’ve only given the show two outings, but it’s going to be hard for me to give them much more. Thomas Lennon, as Felix, is maybe trying a little too hard to channel the spirit of Tony Randall while not trying to channel the spirit of Tony Randall, if that makes sense. Yvette Nicole Brown as Oscar’s assistant is bringing the best she has, but it’s not enough. And Wendell Pierce and Lindsay Sloane as the other two supporting players don’t seem to have a purpose, other than to set up zingers for Mr. Perry to deliver with his Chandler style.
And now we get to the root of the problem with the show, Matthew Perry, who oddly enough is credited with co-creating a show that was created nearly 50 years ago by Neil Simon, isn’t bringing his “A” game. I’m not even for sure he’s bringing his “B” game. He’s a good actor. He’s done some amazing work beyond Chandler Bing. His guest starring turns on The Good Wife and the West Wing were excellent and showed he has more than a sarcastic wit. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, his first series after Friends, was, in my opinion, amazing and just not treated right by NBC. His two other sitcom attempts were misfires, but not horrible shows. But in the Odd Couple he’s just playing sloppy Chandler. And he’s not even really sloppy Chandler, he’s kind of sloppy Chandler with grayish hair. His zingers have no gusto behind them, no charm. Maybe he’s trying not to be Chandler, but if that’s the case then don’t use the zinger approach that was known as a Bingerism for 10 years. I just can’t figure out what he is doing, but it isn’t working.
So why is he doing this show. It can’t be because he needs the money. I mean NBC gave him a couple dozen semi-trucks full of hundred dollar bills for the last season of Friends. I can only assume it’s because he feels like he needs to perform. He doesn’t want to waste the talent he has, but unfortunately he’s not wasting it, he’s throwing it away. Or maybe it’s just that he needs a friend. Don’t we all just need Friends?