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The Show vs. The Movie

Or: The two Universes of "The Odd Couple"

While some people may think that "The Odd Couple" was just another tv show based on a movie, it was actually based on a play (as it says in the opening credits). The movie and the show were each separately based on the play, and each produced by different people (although the popularity of the movie most likely led to the development of the tv show). While the movie and play (and the 1998 sequel, "The Odd Couple 2") were written by Neil Simon, the show was largely developed and produced by Garry Marshall, with no involvementfrom Neil Simon. The tv show and the movie/play take place in different "universes." Some of the differences are listed below:

  1. According to the movie, Oscar has at least two children, but in the show, he has no children. This is specifically stated by Felix in "The Paul Williams Story" (episode 101).
  2. The spelling of Felix''s last name changed slightly, from Ungar in the movie, to Unger in the show.
  3. In the movie, Felix''s wife is named Frances, but in the show, her name is Gloria. (In the "New Odd Couple" tv show, her name was once again Frances.) The name of Oscar''s ex-wife is the same in both.
  4. In the movie, Felix is a writer for the tv news, but in the show, he is a commercial photographer.
  5. In the show, Felix''s daughter is named Edna, but in "The Odd Couple 2" her name is Hannah.
  6. The movie, which begins on the day that Felix''s wife threw him out, takes place during the summer. (The script for the play specifically states July.) But according to the show opening, he was thrown out on November 13. This begs the question: Since the show debuted in September, does that mean that Felix had already been living with Oscar for the past 10 months? In the first episode, Felix is already divorced from Gloria (not just separated) and it seems like he has already been living with Oscar for at least a little while. But in the last episode, Felix mentions having lived with Oscar for 5 years (exactly the length of the show). So maybe we can chalk that up to another inconsistency in the show.
  7. In the movie, Felix has a brother who lives in Buffalo, and who is a doctor. In the show, Felix mentions his brother in Buffalo several times, but in "Shuffling off to Buffalo" (88) we find out that, instead of being a doctor, he is the president of a bubblegum company.
  8. Felix''s trademark honking sound, which he made involuntarily whenever he got upset, was unique to the show; the only funny sound he made in the moviewas the "moose call" that he made voluntarily, to clear his sinuses.
  9. Felix''s often-repeated phrase "Oscar, Oscar, Oscar" was only used in the show. (However, Felix''s phrase "Let it be on your head!" which was used once in the movie, was also used in the show several times.)
  10. The character Murray the cop was changed a little. He was portrayed as rather dumb in the show, but in the movie, he was one of the most level-headed of the bunch.

One of the main differences is that, at the end of the movie, Oscar throws Felix out of the apartment, but in the show Felix is still living there. In the first episode, the guys prepare for their first date with the Pigeon Sisters, even though they had already dated them (played by the same actresses) in the movie. The events and dialog in episode number 5, "The Breakup" are almost the same as the last twenty minutes of the movie (when Felix is thrown out of Oscar''s apartment, and moves in with the Pigeon Sisters). At the end of the episode, unlike the movie, Oscar eventually agrees to let Felix move back in with him.

In a way, the show is sort of like an alternate universe for "The Odd Couple," breaking away from the movie about halfway through, and going on its own separate course. Although it doesn''t quite explain one difference: Felix was never divorced in the movie; he was only separated. But in the first episode, Felix is already divorced.

Because the movie and the tv show take place in different "universes," their respective sequels are also in these universes. "The Odd Couple: Together Again" was a tv special which was a reunion for the show, and it originally aired in 1993. In this sequel, both Oscar and Felix are still living in New York City, and are still friends. In fact, Oscar is still living in the same apartment. Part of the story involves the fact that Oscar had one of his vocal cords removed, due to throat cancer (which is what happened to Jack Klugman in real life). The special also deals with the impending marriage of Felix''s daughter Edna. Felix is still married to Gloria, since they had remarried in the last episode of the show.

"Neil Simon''s The Odd Couple 2 " was a theatrical film released in 1998, which was a sequel for the original movie. It takes place 30 years after the first movie. In this sequel, Oscar has moved to Florida, and hasn''t seen Felix for 17 years. When Oscar''s son Bruce gets engaged to Felix''s daughter Hannah, Oscar and Felix take a road-trip to California for the wedding. (This couldn''t have happened in the reunion for the show, because Oscar didn''t have any kids in that "universe.") Felix is, of course, still divorced from Frances - in fact, he has been married and divorced two more times. And both Frances and Blanche have gotten married to other men. This sequel continues the story of the "movie universe," so it does not involve the events of the tv show and its sequel.