‘Odd Couple’ salutes Garry Marshall’s legacy with star-studded tribute
Both TV versions of “The Odd Couple” sprung to life through the vision of the late Garry Marshall, who died in July at the age of 81.
So it’s only appropriate that Monday night’s “Odd Couple” episode (9:30 p.m. on CBS), “Taffy Days,” will pay tribute to Marshall — in a lighthearted way and with many guest stars from his shows including “Happy Days” (Ron Howard, Anson Williams, Don Most, Marion Ross), “Laverne & Shirley” (his sister, Penny Marshall, and Cindy Williams) and “Mork & Mindy” (Pam Dawber).
“Our first thought [regarding Marshall’s passing] was maybe a little ‘In Memoriam’ card in the first episode [of the season],” says series executive producer Bob Daily. “But the more we thought about it, we thought, Garry devoted his life to making people laugh, so rather than doing a little short, sad card, let’s try to do something we hoped Garry would have appreciated — both heartfelt and just a fun, silly episode.”
Marshall, who developed and executive-produced ABC’s ’70s-era “Odd Couple” starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, returned for the CBS version — with stars Matthew Perry (Oscar) and Thomas Lennon (Felix) — as an executive consultant. He appeared in an episode last season as Oscar’s father, Walter.
“We’re told in the first scene [of Monday night’s episode] that Walter had a request — he wants Oscar to scatter his ashes behind the candy factory he owned with his old business partner, who Walter hadn’t spoken to in 30 years,” Daily says. “So Oscar has to find this mystery person and, in tracking her down, he’s looking up old addresses and that’s how he’s running into all these fabulous cameos.
“Ron Howard plays the lawyer who gives Oscar the news about his dad’s instructions, and Marion Ross plays [Walter’s ex-partner’s] mother. Pam Dawber is a bartender, Cindy is [the business partner’s] sister and Anson and Don are barflies sitting in a booth like Arnold’s [in ‘Happy Days’].”
Oscar finally does find Walter’s old partner (but we won’t ruin the surprise).
“I was nervous about the [CBS] reboot job since the show has such a great legacy,” Daily says. “From the very beginning, Garry called and left a message and said, ‘Anything I can do to help; I want to be there for you. I want this to succeed.’ ”
The episode ends with an “In Memoriam” card, showing a picture of Marshall with Randall and Klugman from ABC’s “Odd Couple,” which fades into a picture of Marshall posing with Perry and Lennon.
“He came in every day to pitch jokes, to sit in the writers room and was at every taping,” Daily says of Marshall. “He also sent in story ideas. He always wanted to work, and we just wanted to hear his stories.
“It was such a thrill to have him in the room.”