The God Couple
The God Couple is a television situation comedy broadcast from September 24, 1965 to March 7, 1970 on EWTN. It stars Felix Unger as Jesus and Oscar Madison as The Buddha, and was the first of several developed by Garry Marshall for Christian Buddhist Television. The show is based upon the play of the same name, which was written by Neil Simon.
Jesus and Buddha are two divorced men. Jesus is neat and tidy while Buddha is sloppy and casual. They share a Manhattan apartment, and their different lifestyles inevitably lead to conflicts and laughs.
On Good Friday, in the year 33, Jesus got home from work and found a folded parchment shoved in his mail slot.
- To The Occupant:
- You are required by law to vacate this apartment on or before the next working day in the Roman calends, notwithstanding any holiday (pagan or Roman) which may fall within the next five working days (excluding the Feast of Dionysus and/or the Revel of Bacchus), by order of IMPERATOR•CAESAR•DIVI•FILIVS•AVGVSTVS (Hail!) and as transmitted by his official minion Nigglia Pifflingus, and report to Crucifixion Central in order to fulfill various prophecies.
- Office of Nailings-Up
- Jerusalem Branch
Oh bugger, thought Christ. His Disciples has betrayed him to the Romans. Deep down, He knew they would -- they were a shifty bunch of assholes, especially Peter. But Christ also knew that someday he would return once more to Earth, to reign again in glory.
And indeed he did! 1933 years later He appeared in Manhattan, just outside a menswear shop near Grammercy Park. He immediately tried to find a place to live -- the alternative being to wrap himself in newspapers and sleep on a steam grating -- but even He couldn’t find an affordable apartment. With nowhere else to go, He walked through the wall and into the apartment of his childhood friend, Gautama Buddha.
Only 2600 years earlier Buddha’s physical body had died and, over the subsequent years, decayed. This gradual decay was boring, and so Gautama requested that the Void grant him reincarnation.
The Void, having a sense of humor, embodied Buddha as a lower organism -- to wit, a sportswriter for The New York Herald. Finding himself in New York and more or less employed, he had leased an apartment at 1049 Park Avenue.
He was reasonably happy...until Jesus showed up.
This, then, was the premise for the television series The God Couple: can two earthbound deities share an apartment without sundering the firmament? And, if so, who's going to cook dinner?
- Theme Music: V.O. by ELO.
- Based on a concept by Neil Simon Peter.
- Additional dialogue by Herman Hesse.
- Speed, Vinny and Murray the cop get a big surprise when Jesus’ Poker hand is five kings.
- Buddha is furious when he discovers that Jesus thrown away his coin collection on a trip to Caesar’s Palace.
- Jesus fixes a dinner of loaves and fishes and Buddha gets a king-sized tummy-ache.
- Buddha gets upset when Jesus tries to sabotage his date with Mary Magdalene.
- Jesus shows righteous anger when Buddha’s obnoxious eight-year old cousin, Budapest (Gary Coleman) wrecks havoc in the apartment.
- Murray the cop stops Jesus for DWI and Jesus lands in the drunk tank when he walks a straight line--on the water.
- Jesus’s ex-wife Jeannie (Barbara Eden) sues him for 2000 years back alimony.
- When Buddha refuses to play Santa Claus at the orphanage Christmas party, Jesus has to use the Drinking Man’s Diet to gain 200 pounds overnight.
- Buddha stops smiling when Jesus invites His twelve apostles in for a drink and changes all the bath water to Manischevitz.
- Jesus takes a summer job as a lifeguard and becomes a hero when he stops a tidal wave and saves a battleship.
- Buddha loses his job as a sportswriter and takes up Sumo wrestling.
- Jesus sulks when Buddha uses His crown of thorns as an ashtray.
- Buddha’s muscle spasms miraculously vanish when Jesus anoints them with rubbing alcohol, but he is less than pleased when the front four of the New York Jets want to become his disciples. (Guest starring Joe Namath.)
- Jesus and Buddha open a Savings and Loan, but Buddha gets upset when Jesus gives all the money away.
- Jesus loses his robe in a dice game.
- Buddha is furious when Jesus asks his secretary, Myrna Turner, to type the New Testament over the weekend.
- Havoc ensues when, to win a bet, Jesus makes a horse sing opera, and Buddha makes Luciano Pavarotti run the hundred-yard dash in six seconds.
- Buddha gets upset when Jesus insists on doing some carpentry around the house, but refuses to use nails.
- Jesus is resentful when Buddha begins referring to himself as “Enlightened One” after picking all the winners in the Kentuckistan Derby.
- Jesus’s feelings are hurt when Buddha attains Nirvana and fails to recognize him.
- Jesus is concerned when Buddha goes on a crash diet and refuses to eat anything but breakfast.
- Buddha threatens to move out when Jesus turns his beggar’s bowl into a sailboat.
- Jesus develops a suspicious allergy when Buddha’s followers bring him flowers and incense.
- Jesus goes on a plane trip, but much to his consternation, the pilot turns out to be Pontius Pilate (Ricardo Montalban).
- Trouble is brewing when Buddha tries to be his own priest at his own wedding.
- Season Finale: Jesus is puzzled when Buddha is reincarnated as “Quincy,” a ranting, self-righteous loudmouthed coroner.
The God Couple aired from 1965 to 1970, when it was replaced by The Odd Couple, a considerably less believable show.
It was nominated three times for an Emmy but, despite heavy lobbying by Jehovah, The God Couple failed to win an award.
In 1980 CBN attempted a series called The New Odd Couple starring Brahma and Allah, but the show folded after only half a season because it appealed to neither Buddhists nor Christians. A 1985 reprise of the original show, tentatively titled The God Couple Returns: Revelations!, never got off the drawing boards.