Among the many entertainers that passed away in 2016 was television legend Garry Marshall, who spent a big chunk of his 81 years creating and producing some of TV's most classic shows. And though it's coming five months after Marshall's death, the CBS sitcom The Odd Couple paid tribute to him in a fantastic way for last night's episode, which brought in a host of stars from several of Marshall's most popular comedies.
The episode was titled "Taffy Days," a pun-riffic take on Happy Days, and it centered on Matthew Perry's Oscar coming to grips with the death of his candy-making father Walter, a character Garry Marshall appeared as in a past episode. Barely a couple of minutes passed before we saw the first famous face, Happy Days' star and filmmaker Ron Howard. He played Walter's numbskull of an attorney who gave the episode its driving force by revealing Walter's last wish was to have his ashes spread in the river behind the old taffy factory he operated with his sister Patty. A journey then ensued.
As seen above, another one of the Odd Couple's guest stars was Penny Marshall, the sister of the late Garry Marshall. She was, of course, one half of the iconic BFF duo Laverne & Shirley, which aired for eight seasons from 1976-1983. They'd been estranged for years, and Oscar finally does get some closure after talking with her in the third act, at which point Walter's ashes had been accidentally dropped into a barrel of taffy. Sitcoms are wild, y'all.
And there were a bunch of other excellent cameos from others that came between Ron Howard and Penny Marshall's episode-capping spots. Oscar (and a road trip-ready Felix) end up meeting Patty's mother Edna, played by the always fabulous Happy Days matriarch Marion Ross, and sister Vivan, who was portrayed by Cindy Williams, Penny Marshall's co-star on Laverne & Shirley. (No Squiggy or Lenny to be found, sadly.) More Happy Days stars showed up, too, as both Anson "Potsie" Williams and Don "Ralph Malph" Most were former co-workers of Walter's.
Pam Dawber, the female non-alien half of Mork & Mindy, was in the episode as Annette, a bartender who knew Walter. Her presence is doubly touching, as her Mork & Mindy co-star Robin Williams died a little over two years ago.
For more sad feelings, check out the pre-credits tag below.
All in all, The Odd Couple offered a way to honor Garry Marshall - the use of TV cameos - that really couldn't be more fitting. It wasn't necessarily on par with the best episodes of Marshall's best comedies - "pain in my butler" was a noteworthy groaner - but it was worth it to see all these excellent actors back on primetime TV.