New 'Odd Couple' and sci-fi epic 'The Expanse' are on home video
Posted April 10
Last year, Oscar Madison and Felix Unger made a return to television, and now the new adaptation of “The Odd Couple” has been released on DVD. And on both DVD and Blu-ray is a new sci-fi show that features Mormon characters.
“The Odd Couple: Season One” (CBS/Paramount, 2015, two discs, 12 episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). I’m old enough to remember the 1968 movie with Jack Lemmon as fastidious Felix and Walter Matthau as slovenly Oscar (Matthau originated the role on Broadway in Neil Simon’s 1965 play). And I watched the 1970s Jack Klugman-Tony Randall TV series, as well as the ’80s version with Ron Glass and Demond Wilson. I was also fortunate enough to see Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane play Felix and Oscar on Broadway a decade ago. And I’ve really enjoyed every version.
So the idea of reviving “The Odd Couple” for the 21st century appeals to me, although I wondered if it would be vulgarized the way so many modern sitcoms are. Sadly, the writers couldn’t resist, and the show indulges in the usual crass sex gags, often undermining the possibilities.
Still, there are some amusing bon mots, and Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon are well-cast as Oscar and Felix — if only they would dial it back. Both play their roles way too broadly, as if they think they’re playing to the back row of a large theater instead of from a TV screen to a couch.
It’s nice to see Dave Foley in a few episodes, as well as Lauren Graham as Oscar’s ex-wife in the finale. Other guests include Regis Philbin, Weird Al Yankovic and NBA stars Chris Webber and Dwight Howard. (Season two begins on CBS on April 7.)
“The Expanse: Season One” (Syfy/Universal, 2015-16, two discs, 10 episodes, deleted scenes). This sci-fi series, based on a series of novels about a future where humans have conquered space but can’t seem to conquer prejudice, greed or duplicitous world leaders, has an epic feel with well-written scripts and solid special effects.
Water and air are highly valued elements, and the main story threads have to do with a missing woman and a conspiratorial plot to pit Earth against a militarized Mars. It’s a bit overstuffed with characters and subplots but worth a look. Oh, and a subplot about a ship being built to transport a Mormon colony to a new planet begins in the fourth episode. (Season two begins in early 2017.)
“Life Story” (BBC Earth, 2015, two discs, six episodes, featurettes). Stunningly photographed over four years, this hi-def documentary narrated by David Attenborough amazingly captures elephants, chimps, polar bears, hummingbirds, spiders and many more creatures from around the world as the six episodes show them taking their first steps, growing up, finding homes, exercising their power, beginning courtships and entering parenthood.
“Peg + Cat: Super Peg and Cat Guy” (PBS Kids, 2013-14, four episodes). Peg and Cat, in the title superhero guises, use geometry and counting to prevent Arch Villain, Triangulo and Flat Woman from wreaking havoc in Mathtropolis. This cute animated show teaches children math skills along with perseverance and resilience.
“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Goes Camping” (PBS Kids, 2013-15, three episodes). This animated show for preschoolers uses singing to explore the magic of nighttime as Daniel goes on a camping trip, has a sleepover and takes an after-dark walk. (Based on the Daniel Striped Tiger puppet from “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”)
“Casual: Season One” (Lionsgate, 2015, two discs, 10 episodes, featurette). This sitcom about navigating the dating world in one’s 30s and 40s stars Michaela Watkins as a therapist who leaves her cheating husband, packs up her teenage daughter and moves in with her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey). A Hulu production, this show goes too far with language, sex and nudity, simply because, as with Netflix and other streaming sites, it can. (Season two begins later this year.)
“A Place to Call Home: Season 3” (Acorn, 2015, three discs, 10 episodes, reprise of the four-minute season two cliffhanger ending, photo gallery). This is a popular Australian soap opera with optional English subtitles for when the accents get a bit thick. Marta Dusseldorp stars as a nurse at a hospital in rural New South Wales, where she becomes involved with a wealthy family. The show is set against the backdrop of social changes during the 1950s. Content includes violence, sex and nudity. (Season four begins in September.)
“House of Lies: The Fourth Season” (Showtime/CBS/Paramount, 2015, two discs, 12 episodes). Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell star in this very dark, satirical Showtime series (so beware the R-rated content) about an unscrupulous management consultant (Cheadle) and the partner (Bell) that betrayed him to the FBI. This season, she is pregnant with his child but he still hasn’t forgiven her for his stint in jail. Guests include Mary McCormick, Demetri Martin and Alicia Witt. (Season five begins April 10.)
“Episodes: The Fourth Season” (Showtime/CBS/Paramount, 2015, two discs, nine episodes). Matt LeBlanc plays an arrogant actor, a jokey version of himself, in this half-hour Showtime inside-show-biz comedy set against the backdrop of the pressures of producing a network sitcom. Also replete with R-rated content. (Season five begins later this year.)
“Banshee: The Complete Third Season” (HBO, 2015, four discs, eight episodes, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, promo). The title of this dark film noir Cinemax pay-cable show (with the expected R-rated content) is a fictional town in Pennsylvania where a criminal has assumed the identity of sheriff even as he continues to accumulate ill-gotten cash. This season, he squares off against an Amish gangster … if that’s not an oxymoron. (Season four is now showing on Cinemax.)
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.