Monday, September 2, 2013

Classic TV: Three's Company (1977)

Following in the footsteps of mentor Norman Lear, producer Don Nicholl and his team adapted Thames Television's Man About the House into Three's Company, which launched as a mid-season replacement on ABC in 1977, and lasted 8 seasons, and almost as many cast changes.

Early scripts were adaptations from the original source, with House creators Johnnie Mortimer & Brian Cooke getting some credit. The plot centered on luckless bachelor Jack Tripper (John Ritter, ex-The Waltons) moving in with two attractive women, Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) & Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers), who'd just had a roommate move out. Landlord Stan Roper (Norman Fell, ex-Dan August) isn't too thrilled, so Jack has to lie and pretend to be gay to appease Roper, though the landlord's wife (Audra Lindley) might have other ideas.

The Ropers were the first ones to go, spun off into their own series after season 3, which led to sitcom legend Don Knotts (ex-The Andy Griffith Show) returning to television as new landlord Ralph Furley. Knotts had tried to carry his own show in the 70's, but failed, and it seems he's more at home as part of an ensemble, as he was with Andy Griffith, and, before that, Steve Allen. Somers left in a contract dispute, with Jennilee Harrison cast as Chrissy's sister, Cindy. However, Harrison left and joined the cast of Dallas, if memory serves me correctly, and thus Priscilla Barnes was brought on as the last of the roommates. Around season 2, Richard Kline joined the show as Larry Dallas, an upstairs neighbor who became Jack's best buddy and sidekick.

Janet was the only one who had a steady job during the course of the series, working in a flower shop. Jack would eventually get one as well, which would ultimately lead to the follow-up series, Three's A Crowd.

Edit: 11/20/13: YouTube has deleted the episode previously posted. In its place is the Season 4 open, which marks the beginning of the Don Knotts era:

TV Land holds the rights to the series at present (check listings), but the earliest seasons were the best.

Rating: B-.


magicdog said...

The family used to love watching this regularly, although after the umpteenth misunderstanding, I began tuning out.

The original cast worked well together, but I think the Ropers shouldn't have had a spin off. They were better as supporting characters IMO. I must admit Don Knotts did a great job as Furley.

BTW - Cindy was Chrissy's cousin, not sister.

I had the pleasure of meeting John Ritter about a decade ago; he was in town for a film festival to promote his film, "Tadpole". He came to the studio and I turned around and there he was! Being the professional, I addressed him politiely, and he responded kindly with , "Hi! I'm John." as if he were just a guy named John! So humbling! Nicest guy ever!

He died far too young though! It's just not fair!

hobbyfan said...

I stand corrected. I screwed up when I wrote the post.

Ritter's passing was tragic, sure, while working on a family comedy, 8 Simple Rules (For Dating My Teenage Daughter, which I plan on putting up soon. He also worked on the Clifford the Big Red Dog cartoons before his passing. He was so youthful even at the end. I think the one role that eluded him was perhaps, well......Jerry Lewis?