About Christmas TV History

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Odd Couple Christmas (1970)

This series has one of the most recognizable instrumental theme tunes--an earworm I'll be singing all week!

I recently reviewed writer/producer/director Garry Marshall's new book My Happy Days in HollywoodClick HERE to see that review again.  His reminiscences on his work in television sent me to seek out Christmas episodes from some of his past series.  Many of these Christmas episodes are some of my personal favorites--episodes I love to watch over and over again.  First up is the 1970 episode "Scrooge Gets an Oscar" from The Odd Couple.  Garry Marshall was the executive producer on this series and voices a brief audio commentary at the beginning of this episode on the first season Odd Couple DVD set.

All they guys agree that the cranky Oscar would make a perfect Scrooge character--he wouldn't even need to act!

Felix is planning to direct a stage play of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for charity.  He's cast his poker buddies in each of the roles and wants his roommate Oscar to play the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. 

After eating too much spicy food, Oscar falls asleep in front of a TV broadcast of A Christmas Carol.
But Oscar is uncooperative this Christmas.  Stressed out and bothered by his painful ulcer condition, Oscar falls asleep in front of the TV and begins a familiar nightmare.  Oscar finds himself escorted by Marley’s Ghost showing him visions of his Christmases past, present and future.

In his dream, Oscar is Scrooge and Felix is Marley's Ghost.
This sitcom's re-telling of A Christmas Carol is clever enough to maintain the integrity of the characters of Felix and Oscar.  For example, Oscar as Scrooge accuses Marley's Ghost of being the result of his evening's meal of spicy food (a reaction to his ulcer) and Felix as the Ghost of Jacob Marley complains about his troublesome sinuses while standing in the smoky special effects.  Even Tiny Tim, as played by their friend Murray the cop (Al Molinaro), only requires a nose reduction to improve his health and a better chance at life.

In Oscar's vision of Christmas Present, he sees Bob Cratchitt's family likes to play poker--and poor Tiny Tim has a not-so-tiny, oversized nose.

"This messy grave marks the last resting place of Oscar Madison" reads the gravestone in Oscar's visit to Christmases yet to come.

This episode also contains Oscar’s grouchy retort, “I’d like to get a giant candy cane and beat the wings off a Sugar Plum Fairy.”  This hilarious one-liner memorably appeared in a TV commercial at Christmas time to promote a marathon of Christmas-themed episodes on TVLand in the early 2000s.

In the end of course, Oscar awakens to willingly play Scrooge in Felix's play.  Here Oscar's friends greet him, ready for a dress rehearsal.

What's your favorite sitcom adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol?  How many of these do you remember?: Family Ties, Sanford and Son, WKRP in Cincinnati, Alice, Bewitched, A Different World, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, the Jetsons, Mr. Belvedere, the Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Martin, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Just to name a few.

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