Friday, June 3, 2011

Rein-Toon-ation: The Oddball Couple (1975)

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

In 1974, ABC cancelled The Partridge Family. Despite that, Columbia Pictures Television (formerly Screen Gems, now Sony Pictures Television) licensed the Partridges to Hanna-Barbera for a cartoon that ended up on rival CBS, and was subsequently cancelled after 1 season.

In 1975, ABC cancelled The Odd Couple. This time, ABC would hang on to the animated reincarnation, but this one had a twist.

DePatie Freleng entered into a licensing agreement of sorts with Paramount, resulting in The Oddball Couple. To borrow a line from Dragnet's famous opening disclaimer, the characters' names were changed to protect the innocent. For example, Felix Unger was turned into a tidy cat named Spiffy (Frank Nelson, ex-The Jack Benny Program), while Oscar Madison was rebooted as a mangy mutt named Fleabag (Paul Winchell). Not only were these mismatched frenemies roommates, but also business partners.

ABC didn't do this show any favors, burying it near the bottom of their Saturday lineup during its 2 years on the air. 16 episodes cycled through several times over. Muttley16 offers the open, which is all that's available on YouTube right now:

The Oddball Couple did have the spirit of The Odd Couple, but not, ultimately the viewer or network support. I believe CBS-Paramount may own this show as a result of the connection, and has shown little interest in introducing Spiffy & Fleabag to a new audience.

Rating: B-.

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