Felix’s main characteristics are that he is very neat and very emotional. He cleans up after himself, tucks in his shirt, and is sad about his wife wanting a divorce. Naturally, The Odd Couple rolls out the obvious gay jokes: “He seems a little gay,” a friend observes. “He seems incredibly gay,” Oscar retorts to a roaring audience. There are also plenty of yawn-inducing men-vs.-women relationship jokes. One scene involves Oscar’s poker buddies (Dave Foley, Wendell Pierce) hanging around to complain about their wives: “You’ve met my wife. Why would I want to live longer?” Oscar has a wall of televisions that his friends admire; one claims that you can either have the TVs or have the wife. Because, you see, women do not like to watch television and they especially hate it when their husbands watch it, too.
Another confusing joke involves Oscar’s neighbor and crush, Casey (Leslie Bibb), who he lures to his apartment by sneaking his mail into her mailbox. Oscar and Felix are set to go on a double date with Casey and her sister Emily (Lindsay Sloane). Upon introducing herself, Emily gestures to herself and her sister and self-deprecatingly remarks, “Yes we can from the same gene pool. Thanks, nature!” Which, I suppose, is a joke about how Emily is unattractive, particularly in comparison to her sister? But, she isn’t? It’s basically just, “Well, this actress is brunette, so let’s pretend she’s not as hot as her blonde sister.” It is more confusing than offensive, and absolutely devoid of laughs.
Neither Lennon nor Perry is memorable here, despite the fact that they are both objectively talented enough to work with the material. Instead, Perry yells all of his lines while Lennon exaggerates every single action — it’s CBS Multi-camera Acting 101, and it wears thin by the end of the cold open.
Mostly, The Odd Couple serves as another chance for Matthew Perry to work on television. It’s actually a smart decision on his part: It’s a well-known story with a built-in fan base (fans of the original, fans of CBS in general), it’s premiering after the ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory, and it’s ostensibly taking the place of Two and a Half Men, a similarly awful sitcom about two men living together that relies on gay jokes (the straight men literally get married to each other this season) and innuendos. It has the potential to last forever, even if it never rises above mediocrity. But that’s probably perfect for Perry, who might get to finally settle down on a show for more than one season.