The Ropers: Wikis

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The Ropers
Ropers.jpg
The Ropers opening logo
Format Sitcom
Starring Norman Fell
Audra Lindley
Jeffrey Tambor
Patricia McCormack
Louise Vallance
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 28 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 mins.
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run March 13, 1979 – May 22, 1980
Chronology
Preceded by Three's Company
Related shows George and Mildred
Norman Fell and Audra Lindley as Stanley & Helen Roper

The Ropers is an American sitcom that ran from March 13, 1979 to May 22, 1980 on ABC. The series is a spinoff of Three's Company and based on the British sitcom George and Mildred. The series focused on middle-aged couple Stanley and Helen Roper (played by Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) who were landlords to Jack, Janet, Chrissy, and Larry on Three's Company.

As was the case during their time on Three's Company, opening credits for The Ropers exist with either Audra Lindley or Norman Fell credited first.

Contents

Main characters

  • Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) - A working-class, frugal, and often embarrassing retiree. Has moved into Cheviot Hills after he is duped into making a promise to his wife Helen that he would buy the condo she wants if it wasn't already sold. His realtor's son suddenly reveals that the condo is in fact not sold.
  • Helen Roper (Audra Lindley) - A sexually frustrated, social-climbing middle-aged woman who tries to fit in the community despite her husband Stanley's constant boorishness. Despite her attempts to fit in, she often proves herself as bumbling as her husband.
  • Jeffrey P. Brookes III (Jeffrey Tambor) - The snobbish realtor who is also the Ropers' next-door neighbor. As revealed in the show's pilot (later syndicated as a Three's Company episode), he is not a third-generation namesake, when his wife Ann chides him for the "III" in his name when his father's name is actually Al. Jeffrey responds by trying (unsuccessfully) to convince her that Al is short for Jeffrey. He is forced to sell them the condo after his son David innocently reveals the condo isn't sold to someone else...an obvious effort by Brookes to keep the Ropers out.
  • Anne Brookes (Patricia McCormack) - Brookes' long-suffering, down-to-earth homemaker wife, who looks after the house and their young son David.

Setting

In this spinoff, the Ropers moved from their apartment in Three's Company to live in the upmarket community of Cheviot Hills, where the social-climbing Helen struggled to fit in with her neighbors. Stanley made little attempt to fit in with the standards of the community, thereby causing Helen much embarrassment. The address of their new home was 46 Peacock Drive. Their phone number was 555-3099.

Creation and Controversy

After the enormous success of Three's Company in its short first season in 1977, ABC head Freddie Silverman was anxious to capitalize on the show's success. Early in 1977 Silverman had approached Fell and Lindley with the subject of doing a spinoff from the show after its first full season wrapped in the spring of 1978. Both actors as well as the Three's Company producers begged off as the show had yet to prove itself for an entire season. However, with the show's continued success in its second season, the idea was broached again in 1978, this time by Three's Company's own producers as well as new ABC head Tony Thomopolous (Silverman had left to take over ailing NBC). The idea intrigued Lindley, but Fell was extremely reluctant, as he was satisfied with his role on a show that was already a proven hit. A spinoff, Fell was afraid, could prove unsuccessful and thus put him out of a good role and job. To alleviate his fears Three's Company producers contractually promised Fell that they would give the new series a year to prove itself. If unsuccessful then he and Lindley would return to Three's Company. A reluctant Fell agreed to the new terms.

Like Three's Company, The Ropers, was introduced as a spring try out series in the spring of 1979 premiering directly after Three's Company on ABC's successful Tuesday night lineup. In its first season, ratings were very high (the show finished #8 for the 1978-79 season) and had the second-highest series premiere rating at the time.[1] ABC then reran the shows over the summer of 1979 where they continued to achieve high ratings leading many to believe that the show would have a long run.

At the beginning of the 1979-80 season, however, ABC moved the show to Saturday night, resulting in an audience drop which put it near the bottom of the ratings. Being placed on Saturday nights, rather than on the ABC Tuesday night lineup, caused an immediate fall into the bottom ten (#52 out of 61 shows for the week of September 17–23) as the show was in direct competition with the NBC show CHiPs. The move upset Fell to the point that he actually went to ABC headquarters in New York to plead with the network to move the show to a better time slot. His effort was in vain, however, and the show continued to pull in low ratings. The drop in ratings and the fact that the show wasn't pulling in the key young demographic audience, led to announcement of the show's cancellation by ABC in May 1980. It has been widely reported that the series finished the 1979-80 season a moderately successful #25 in the ratings[2], but this claim is false.

With the series canceled Fell approached Three's Company producers about returning to the show. During the time that The Ropers was on the air, the characters had been replaced on Three's Company by Don Knotts. The addition had worked well and Three's Company had retained its popularity. The idea of returning Fell and Lindley to their original Three's Company roles was undesirable to producers, mainly because they had one character playing the landlord role now as opposed to two, which would require more money to be paid out per episode, (the The Ropers cancellation came just as Suzanne Somers began to renegotiate her contract, which would lead to her very public contract dispute during the 1980-81 television season), something that was undesirable to the shows producers and ABC. The cancellation of The Ropers came just one month after the one-year contractual deadline passed. Fell would later state that he always believed the decision to pull the plug on the show had been made much earlier, but that the network deliberately postponed making the cancellation official until after the one-year mark specifically to be relieved of the obligation to allow Fell and Lindley to return to Three's Company. There was an attempt by producers to sell the show to Silverman over at NBC; however, Silverman passed on it too.

Despite the hard feelings, in March 1981 both Fell and Lindley made one final guest appearance on Three's Company (in season 5, episode # 96) nearly a year after the end of their own series before the characters were retired for good. For audiences, it was a chance to see all of the three characters — played by Fell, Lindley, and Knotts — on the same stage.

Episodes

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Season One (1979)

Ep # Title Airdate
1 "Moving On" March 13, 1979
2 "Friends and Neighbors" March 20, 1979
3 "Your Money or Your Life" March 27, 1979
4 "The Doris Letters" April 3, 1979
5 "The Family Planning" April 10, 1979
6 "Opportunity Knocks" April 17, 1979

Season Two (1979-1980)

Ep # Title Airdate
7 "The Party" September 15, 1979
8 "Days of Beer and Rosie" September 22, 1979
9 "Power Play" September 29, 1979
10 "Baby Talk" October 6, 1979
11 "Two for the Road" October 13, 1979
12 "Puppy Love" October 20, 1979
13 "All Around the Clock" October 27, 1979
14 "Odd Couples" November 3, 1979
15 "Pal Joey" November 17, 1979
16 "Helen Makes Music" November 24, 1979
17 "The Skeleton" December 1, 1979
18 "The Other Man" December 15, 1979
19 "And Who's Been Sleeping in My...?" January 26, 1980
20 "Jenny's Date" February 2, 1980
21 "Of Mice and Horses" February 9, 1980
22 "Family Feud" February 16, 1980
23 "The Other Woman" March 1, 1980
24 "Man About the House" March 8, 1980
25 "Old Flames" March 15, 1980
26 "The Rummage Sale" May 1, 1980
27 "Four Letter Word" May 8, 1980
28 "Mother's Wake" May 15, 1980

Syndication

The Ropers has been aired in syndication on local channels in the 1980s and early 1990s, but has had limited airings in recent years. Two episodes of the series, however, play in the syndication package of Three's Company. When initially offered in syndication, the series ran under the title Three's Company's Friends, The Ropers. That version used an instrumental version of the original series' theme song. Six episodes of the series were aired on TV Land in September 2006, and four episodes were aired on WGN America in October 2008.

The Ropers aired in Canada beginning September 15, 2007 on CanWest Global's digital specialty channel, DejaView. It will air weekends at 6:00 pm and 3:00 am.

References

  1. ^ Mann, Chris (1998). Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company. Macmillan. p. 113. ISBN 0-312-16803-9. 
  2. ^ Mann, Chris (1998). Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company. Macmillan. p. 113. ISBN 0-312-16803-9. 

External links


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