I stumbled across another movie channel on cable recently, HDNET, and they were doing a Three Stooges marathon, three of their features and the TV-biopic produced by Mel Gibson in 2000. They went right onto the DVR where they joined The Three Stooges movie (2012) I had previously recorded from HBO. So now I was about to do a mega-marathon.
I grew up with the Stooges. They were on every afternoon here in NYC, after school on WPIX, Channel 11, hosted by Officer Joe Bolton. They did 190 shorts for Columbia pictures. Even though it felt like I saw them all, I know I hadn't. I got to go to some midnight matinees in the 1970s where they showed the "banned" Stooge wartime shorts. I got to see some more when home video came out and then more when IFC made a point of showing them, uncut, on cable. What I never saw as much was the features they did.
Okay, a follow up to my last SNL post about season 6. I started watching season 7 of the heavily re-launched SNL. It was now officially Dick Ebersol's show. Hold overs from the season 6 finale, Denny Dillion and Gail Matthius, were gone. New hires, Robin Duke, Tim Kazurinsky, and Tony Rosato made the leap. Christine Ebersole and Mary Gross joined the cast. And, of course, Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy would stay and rule the roost. Old man background
actor, Andy Murphy, made it too.
After a brief cold open, the new intro began, calling NYC the most dangerous city with a video reel showing a less-appealing side of New York (this has newly-rehired head writer Michael O'Donoghue written all over it). And the stage looks like they’re doing it from a abandoned warehouse instead of some iconic NY location.
There was no host. The cast just ran out, took a bow and ran off into the first sketch.
The first sketch was a strange two-hander with Gross and Duke as vacationing nuns. It took a while for the audience to warn up to it, but there was a solid laugh at the end. It reminded me of Will Ferrell's first sketch about telling the kid's to get off the shed. Obviously, they were committed to it, but it didn't rock the audience.
They did a sketch about a one night stand, went to a commercial, then came back to a funeral sketch that WAS A CONTINUATION OF THE PREVIOUS SKETCH! Weekend Update became SNL Newsbreak. Oh, and Brian Doyle Murray was still around and now the Newsbreak co-anchor (with Gross). It seemed to be renamed so they could do a clever sight gag the first night that they would be stuck with to diminishing effect for the rest of the season. And the cast had the lines memorized. Not much use of cue cards that I could see.
(Okay, technically, this is a dispatch from my Roku, but isn't streaming basically America's DVR?)
Thanks to Peacock, NBC's streaming service, you can now watch all the episodes of SNL. Not all of each episode, but all of the episodes.
A few years back, I had gathered, through gifts, prize awards and purchase, the DVD box sets of the first 5 seasons of NBC's Saturday Night (aka Saturday Night Live). These boxed sets were a massive undertaking for Broadway Video due to all the music and film rights they had to secure to present the shows as they were originally (practically) broadcast (At the time an SNL BBS was complaining that they didn't use the various host portraits where the commercial breaks would have been). The task had been so exhausting and expensive, the powers that be decided not to bother doing it for any other show after the fifth season.
Watching these DVDs made me curious about the remarkable and disastrous 6th season of SNL. I poked around online at the time and there were bootleg copies of the shows available, but I couldn't bring myself to buy a set.
While catching up with things I've recorded to watch later, I finally saw an interesting double feature shown on the MOVIES! channel: "The Odd Couple II" and "The Odd Couple: Together Again." One worked, the other didn't. And surprisingly the one that worked was not the one written by Neil Simon.
The Odd Couple II (1998) starred Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau, back from the first movie as Felix Unger and Oscar Madison but with nobody else. Oscar is retired to Florida and hosting senior poker games. Felix isn't. Turns out their kids fell in love and are getting married in California. And they're going to travel together for the wedding.
The movie is more like Felix and Oscar in the Out-of-Towners because the movie is just them facing a series of difficulties trying to get to the wedding in California (Santa Something-or-other). There's some honking noises, some wrinkled shirts but not much else of the orignal characters here.
The only reason this movie got to exist is that Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were suddenly hot again, thanks to movies like Grumpy Old Men I & II and Out to Sea. And the movie is not special for the same reason. Instead of it being Lemmon-and-Matthau-are-back-together event! it was oh, they're in ANOTHER movie together?
Their chemistry is still there, but, like their road trip, there's too much stop and go. And they are too old for the parts. I'm supposed to believe the bride and groom are their children? More like adult grandchildren.
And it ends with Felix moving back in with Oscar in Florida, which is probably what the movie should have been.
Now, The Odd Couple: Together Again is a reunion movie of the TV Odd Couple, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. And this one sings, even if Klugman can't. The TV movie was made in 1993, 20 years after the show. Most of the cast is recast, except for their poker buddy Speed and, most surprisingly, Oscar's old secretary, Myrna Turner played by Penny Marshall. That was remarkable. It's not just a cameo. She has several scenes with Oscar with a character arc and everything. This time it's Felix's daughter getting married to some guy not related to Oscar and he gets kicked out by his wife for over-planning and nearly ruining the wedding. They worked in Jack Klugman's throat surgery into the story, so Felix can move in and help with his recuperation, while dealing with the wedding plans.
Both guys are in their zone. The set looks identical to the TV apartment they lived in and Canada fills in for NYC well enough. People forget that the first season of the Odd Couple was a filmed, single camera sit-com (it switched to a 3-camera, live audience format afterward) so the switch back to film isn't that jarring. It was a solid, enjoyable reunion with enough subplots so everyone got a moment to shine. The characters sparred over housekeeping and getting Oscar back to work. And it had some weird and wonderful laughs. There was a Rocky parody (!) where Oscar screeches in delight that scares horses. The poker game where they let Oscar win is vintage Odd Couple, even if some of the players aren't. Murray the cop is there, although retired and not portrayed by Al Molinaro. As usual, Felix goes overboard and Oscar has to reel him back in.
The show's attitude and rhythms picked up straight from the original series, something the big screen sequel movie did not do. I knew The Odd Couple II existed and had seen it back in the 90s, but I didn't know about the TV reunion, so that was a pleasant surprise and I like it when the cable channels do unusual double-features like this. It's just that now I can't get the Odd Couple theme out of my head.
Freelance writer, still hacking away.