When I first watched Fawlty Towers I wasn’t precisely blown away, but the more sitcoms I watch the more I appreciate it. Take for example today’s subject: The odd couple, a sitcom broadcasted between 2015 and 2017. It features two unlikely friends who, by unlikely circumstances, have become unlikely housemates and go through unlikely adventures. They’re unlikely to be entertaining.
Okay, let’s cut the crap. They don’t just fail to be entertaining, they’re unbearable. They’re excruciating. The acting is so hammy, the laugh track so obtrusive, the jokes so corny that I had to sit through this episode in several sessions. And I managed to get through The Squeakquel in one go!
To plot of this particular episode is that the two friends and room mates, Oscar and Felix, need quite a bit of money quickly. Oscar finds out that Felix was once a nationally ranked player1 and suggests he should try to make money by playing chess in the parks.2
There is a lot to talk about. The first time we see a Felix in action is when he’s playing against the son of a friend and picture above. Things start of promising (1. d4 d5), but they immediately take a sharp turn towards idiocy (2.a4 a5). More madness ensues, and after a shockingly short while we have arrived at the following position:3
Felix, the nationally ranked guy, is playing white and has just hung his bishop on b4 for no apparent reason. Presumably, he was ranked last. However, he still has a chance of taking this game, because his opponent plays Bf8-f6 here. Luckily, we are saved from further horrors by some talk about the plan and a merciful cut to the park.
Felix is now playing one of the locals. He has white and the game starts as follows: 1. d4 Nc6 2. Nf3. Here, black plays b6, which is somewhat out of the usual bounds of opening theory but nothing extraordinary. Except! Except that his pawn is on d5 now and his queen’s knight still on b8! White’s c4 in reply is not so strange, but then black answers with Qe8-g4 and declares checkmate! AAAAAAAAAARGH!
What is this? What fresh new hell has opened here and stands gaping at the world, to swallow it whole? What demons have escaped and made their way to Hollywood studios? What foul beasts have besmirched fair Caïssa’s realms?
There is a cut, and for a brief moment one gasps for air and breaths a sigh of relief — but then! Immediately, one is thrown back into the maws of the devil. Felix is playing against the same guy and claims his fourth victory in a row when there are only white pieces on the board! Gah! That cannot happen! Every dog with a hat on knows that that cannot happen!
And then, then — no, it is too horrid. I cannot do this. I give up. You’ve won, odd couple, Beelzebub and Mammon, Iod and Zazel. I am not Job; there are limits to my patience. I cannot take the simultaneous exhibition where the simul giver has black on all boards. I cannot take the ridiculous name checking of the Blackburn shilling trap, in what’s declared to be a Sicilian defence no less. I yield.
Realism: -/5 I award you no points, odd couple, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Probable winner: The many-angled ones residing in R’lyeh, watching, watching, ever watching the flesh that walks the Earth.
1. [I’m not sure what this is meant to convey. Like, he has a national ratings? Well, whoop-de-doo! Even I have a national rating and I play like a rotten banana.] ↩
2. [Yeah, that‘s going to work.] ↩
3. [Here is an odd diagram making website.] ↩