This was a fitting ending to the comedy pilot pickup season, with CBS today greenlighting The Odd Couple, a new take on Neil Simon’s classic. The high-profile project, starring Matthew Perry as one of two mismatched roommates — messy Oscar Madison (Perry) and neat freak Felix Unger — is the perfect final entry in a string of odd-couple comedies this pilot season. At CBS alone, there are two of these, The Odd Couple and David Caspe’s multi-camera Cuz-Bros, about a successful and suave ladies man whose perfect life is turned upside down when his mess of a cousin needs a place to stay.
Then there is NBC’s odd couple multi-camera comedy pilot Lifesaver, from writer Wil Calhoun, which centers on the uptight, controlling and a bit neurotic Dr. Graham Permenter (Christian Borle) and fun, loose cannon Leon (Jonathan Ryland), who become inextricably linked after Leon saves Graham’s life by giving him a kidney. (NBC also has The Pro, a variation on the odd couple concept, with Rob Lowe and Rob Riggle as two former partners and friends thrown in back together after years apart following a falling-out.)
Fox is taking on the concept of two polar-opposite guys cohabiting with the pilot Sober Companion, which also was greenlighted as multi-camera before switching to single-camera when Justin Long was tapped to star. Produced by the same studio as The Odd Couple, CBS Studios, Sober Companion centers on a charming but self-destructive attorney who finds his world turned upside down when a perennially upbeat, maddeningly eccentric court-appointed sober companion (Long) takes control of his life. There is even a female twist on the odd-couple concept this year with NBC pilot Mason Twins, about two long estranged fraternal twin sisters: a smart, brunette successful corporate climber (Erinn Hayes) and a blond once-popular high school girl (June Diane Raphael), now a pizza place waitress, who move in together. The premise draws some parallels to CBS’ Two Broke Girls.
While the networks have tried on and off to launch an odd male couple comedy over the past decade, including Fox’s pilot Little Brother two years ago, there hasn’t been such a concerted effort with so many pilots toplined by well-known stars like this year. Will this finally be the season that will produce a new successful odd couple comedy series?