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Top 5 Oscar Madisons of all-time

The latest version of "The Odd Couple," which premiered Feb. 19 on CBS, must be funny, because the people on its laugh track are the loudest on television and it has generated impressive ratings over its first month.

Just kidding. It is lazy and derivative and an affront to the classic TV original, whose series finale aired 40 years ago Saturday. But to each his or her own. Given the ratings, the show will be with us for a while.

At least Oscar Madison, the greatest fictional sportswriter of all time, is back with us once more.

True, this time, played by Matthew Perry, he is a sports talk radio host. (This is Perry's second consecutive series playing a sports radio host, following "Go On.") But in the second episode, the character was slated to ghost-write a baseball player's autobiography. Close enough.

5. MATTHEW PERRY

5. Matthew Perry: It's only been four episodes,
Photo Credit: CBS

5. Matthew Perry: It's only been four episodes, so let's revisit Perry after the show goes on a brief hiatus for the NCAA Tournament. Already he has established himself as the first actor in television history to portray a sports talk radio host on two consecutive series.

4. DEMOND WILSON

4. Demond Wilson:
Photo Credit: AP

4. Demond Wilson: "The New Odd Couple" lasted only one season, 1982-83, and never caught on with audiences. Wilson gets bonus points also for being Lamont Sanford.

3. NATHAN LANE

3. Nathan Lane: Reviews for the 2005 stage
Photo Credit: Ari Mintz

3. Nathan Lane: Reviews for the 2005 stage revival featuring Lane as Oscar and Matthew Broderick as Felix fell far short of their earlier partnership on "The Producers." But Lane still is Lane.

2. WALTER MATTHAU

2. Walter Matthau, right, is the original Broadway
Photo Credit: Handout

2. Walter Matthau, right, is the original Broadway (and film) Oscar and was grouchier than Jack Klugman's TV take on the character, but he was a classic in his own right. He won a Tony for the role.

1. JACK KLUGMAN

1. Jack Klugman, left, is the standard by
Photo Credit: Handout

1. Jack Klugman, left, is the standard by which not only all Oscar Madisons are judged but by which all fictional sportswriters are judged. (Second place goes to Newsday's own Ray Barone.)

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