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Three's Company
Threes Company Title Page 1981.png
Sixth season titlecard
Format Sitcom
Created by Don Nicholl
Michael Ross
Bernie West
Starring John Ritter
Joyce DeWitt
Suzanne Somers (seasons 1-5)
Priscilla Barnes (seasons 6-8)
Norman Fell (seasons 1-3)
Audra Lindley (seasons 1-3)
Richard Kline
Ann Wedgeworth (season 4)
Jenilee Harrison (seasons 5-6)
and Don Knotts (seasons 4-8)
Country of origin USA
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 172 (plus 2 episodes of The Ropers aired in syndication as Three's Company)
(List of episodes)
Production
Location(s) Santa Monica, California
Hollywood, California
Running time 25 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
First shown in USA
Original run March 15, 1977 (1977-03-15) – September 18, 1984 (1984-09-18)
Status Ended
Chronology
Followed by The Ropers
Three's a Crowd
Related shows Man About the House
External links
Official website

Three's Company is an American sitcom that aired from 1977 to 1984 on ABC. It is a remake of the British sitcom Man About the House.

The story revolves around three roommates, Janet Wood, Chrissy Snow (later Cindy Snow and Terri Alden), and Jack Tripper who share Apartment 201 in a Santa Monica, California[1] apartment building owned by Mr. and Mrs. Roper (later owned by Bart Furley but managed by his brother, Ralph Furley).

The show, a comedy of errors, chronicles the escapades and hijinks of the trio's constant misunderstandings, social lives, and struggle to keep up with rent.

Contents

Plot description

After crashing Eleanor's wedding reception and finding himself passed out in the bathtub, cooking school student Jack Tripper happens across Janet Wood, a florist, and Chrissy Snow, a secretary, in need of a new roommate after Eleanor moves out. Having only been able to afford living at the YMCA, Jack quickly accepts the offer to move in.

However, due to landlord Stanley Roper's intolerance for co-ed living situations, even in a multi-bedroom apartment, Jack is only allowed to move in after Janet tells Mr. Roper that Jack is gay. Although Helen Roper figures out Jack's true sexuality in the second episode, she does not tell her husband. Frequently siding with the three roommates instead of her husband, Mrs. Roper's bond with the roommates grows until the eventual spinoff The Ropers.

Jack continues the charade when new landlord Ralph Furley takes over the apartment complex because Mr. Furley insists that his hard-nosed brother Bart (the building's new owner) would also never tolerate such living situations.

The show was set minutes from the beach in Santa Monica, California, and was filmed using three main sets: the trio's apartment, their landlord's apartment and the neighborhood pub, The Regal Beagle. In later seasons more sets were used, frequently depicting Larry's apartment, Angelino's restaurant, Jack's Bistro, and the hospital where Terri worked.

Humor in the show was based on farce, often relying on innuendo, misunderstanding, as well as physical comedy to punctuate the hare-brained schemes the characters would invariably conjure up to get themselves out of situations. Running jokes were frequently based on Jack's (supposed) sexuality, Mr. Roper's lack of sexual prowess, and Chrissy's blonde moments. Conflict in the show came from the dysfunctional marriage of the Ropers, Jack's lust for Chrissy versus Janet's intolerance for a roommate romance, and later on, Larry and Jack's friendship and Larry's abuse of it.

The theme song was composed by Joe Raposo (known for his composing for the children's television show Sesame Street), and sung by Ray Charles (unrelated to the late rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles) and Julia Rinker.

Characters and cast

Primary characters

Role Seasons on show About Actor or actress
Jack Tripper Season 1-8 A clumsy culinary student (later chef, then restaurant owner) from San Diego, Navy veteran, and swinging bachelor. John Ritter
Janet Wood Season 1-8 Born in Indiana, she is a down-to-earth brunette who worked at the "Arcade Florist." Joyce DeWitt
Chrissy Snow Season 1-5 A ditzy blonde secretary from Fresno whose real name is Christmas. Suzanne Somers
Cindy Snow Season 5-6 Chrissy's accident-prone cousin, a secretary and later, veterinary student at UCLA. Jenilee Harrison
Terri Alden Season 6-8 An intelligent blonde nurse, unlucky in love. Priscilla Barnes

Secondary characters

Role Seasons on show About Actor or actress
Larry Dallas Season 1-8 A womanizing neighbor and used car salesman. He becomes Jack's best friend. Richard Kline
Stanley Roper Season 1-3 A hard-nosed landlord. Norman Fell
Helen Roper Season 1-3 A muumuu-wearing, love-starved landlady. Audra Lindley
Ralph Furley Season 4-8 A goofy, flamboyantly dressed landlord who believes he's a ladies man. Don Knotts
Lana Shields Season 4 An older woman neighbor, who pursued Jack and was in turn pursued by Mr. Furley. Ann Wedgeworth

Recurring characters

Role Years on show About Actor or actress
Jim 1977-1981 Bartender at The Regal Beagle Paul Ainsley
Mike 1981-1984 Bartender at The Regal Beagle Brad Blaisdell
Dean Travers 1977-1981 Dean at Jack's cooking school William Pierson
Reverend Luther Snow 1978-1979 Chrissy's minister father Peter Mark Richman
Linda 1978-1979 Jack's girlfriend and one-time roommate Anne Schedeen
Frank Angelino 1981-1983 Jack's short-tempered boss Jordan Charney
Felipé Gomez 1981-1982 Jack's jealous co-worker at Angelino's Gino Conforti

Cast changes

Three's Company had many cast changes over its run. The first of these changes took place in the spring of 1979 with the relocation of the Ropers to their own TV series (The Ropers), which revolved around Helen and Stanley, and their neighbors in a townhouse community after Stanley had sold the apartment building. Man About The House had similarly spun the Ropers off for the series George and Mildred.

Two changes took place in the fall of 1979, at the beginning of the fourth season. The first was the addition of Lana, an older woman who chased Jack around. She liked to pursue him but he did not appreciate her advances. Lana was dropped from the show without any explanation before the season was half over, at Ann Wedgeworth's request, since she did not appreciate Lana's diminishing role in the series. The other new addition that fall was the new building manager, Ralph Furley, whose brother Bart bought the building from the Ropers. Mr. Furley pursued Lana unsuccessfully, as she unsuccessfully pursued Jack. Unlike Lana, he appeared until the end of the series.

Season five (1980–1981) marked the beginning of contract re-negotiations and sparked friction on the set when, after Somers' demands for a heavily increased salary (from $30,000 to $150,000 per episode, plus 10% of the show's profits[2]) were not met, Somers went on a strike of sorts and was absent for several taping days, providing false excuses such as a strained back or a broken rib. Executives believed that a complete loss of Somers could damage the program's popularity so a compromise was reached. Somers, who was still under contract, continued to appear in the series, but only in the one-minute tag scene of a handful of episodes. Somers' scenes were taped on separate days from the show's regular taping; she did not appear on set with any of the show's other cast members. According to the story, her character had returned to her hometown of Fresno to care for her ailing mother, and was only seen when she telephoned her former roommates, and they recounted that week's adventures to her. This arrangement continued for one season, but Somers was fired after her contract was terminated, and Chrissy's place in the apartment was taken by her clumsy cousin Cindy (Jenilee Harrison).

Another replacement, Terri Alden (played by Priscilla Barnes), a clever, sometimes sassy nurse, joined the cast in the sixth season (1981–1982). In the script, Cindy was to move to college to fulfill her dream of becoming a veterinarian, and would continue to visit throughout the sixth season.

The show ended with the departure of all cast members except Ritter, who moved on to the spin-off Three's a Crowd, itself based upon Man About the House’s spin-off Robin's Nest.

Notable guest appearances

  • Jeffrey Tambor appeared as 4 different characters (a dentist, a psychiatrist, a millionaire, and a real estate agent), and was also a part of the cast of The Ropers.
  • Emmaline Henry appeared as Chrissy's boss J.C. Braddock in the Season 3 episodes "Chrissy's New Boss" and "The Catered Affair."
  • Dick Sargent and Joyce Bulifant appear on Season 2 episode "Chrissy's Date."
  • Loni Anderson appeared as a stewardess pursuing Jack in the Season 2 episode "Coffee, Tea, or Jack."
  • James Cromwell appeared as a police detective in a Season 2 episode.
  • Natalie Schafer appeared as a customer at Janet's flower shop in Season 2's "Jack in the Flower Shop."
  • John Larroquette appeared as a cop on Season 3 episode "Jack Moves Out."
  • Joanna Kerns appeared twice as one of Jack's love interests: as Bobbi in Season 4's "The Love Lesson" and as Cheryl in Season 8's "Jack Be Quick."
  • Barry Williams appeared as the affluent object of Janet's desire in Season 6's "Up in the Air."
  • Teresa Ganzel appeared as Greedy Gretchen in the season 6 episode "Lies My Roommate Told Me". Although this was her only appearance on the series, the character was referred to several times before and after this episode, and Ganzel would later reprise the role in an episode of Three's A Crowd.
  • Lucille Ball hosted a two-part retrospective of the show at the end of Season 6: “The Best of Three’s Company (Part 1)” and “The Best of Three’s Company (Part 2)”.
  • Rita Wilson appeared as a criminal in Season 8's "Alias Jack Tripper".

Broadcast history

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 6 March 15, 1977 April 21, 1977
2 25 September 13, 1977 May 16, 1978
3 22 September 12, 1978 May 15, 1979
4 25 September 11, 1979 May 6, 1980
5 22 October 28, 1980 May 19, 1981
6 28 October 6, 1981 May 18, 1982
7 22 September 28, 1982 May 10, 1983
8 22 September 27, 1983 September 18, 1984
  • March 1977 – September 1977, Thursday 9:30 p.m.
  • September 1977 – May 1984, Tuesday 9:00 p.m.
  • May 1984 – September 1984, Tuesday 8:30 p.m.

Ratings

Three's Company premiered in the spring, in the middle of the season. Usually in the 1960s and 1970s, midseason television programs were cancelled after their original six-episode run in the spring. Network observers did not believe that Three's Company would go anywhere after its first six shows. They were proved wrong when it racked in record ratings, breaking barriers at the time as the highest-rated midseason show ever broadcast on network television. ABC gladly renewed the show for a formal television season, giving it a permanent primetime spot during the 1977-1978 year. Ratings continued to climb throughout the years. The very first episode, "A Man About the House", hit #28 overall. The first time a Company episode hit the #1 spot was the airing of "Will the Real Jack Tripper...", which aired February 14, 1978. The most watched Company episode aired on March 13, 1979, immediately preceding the series premiere of its spinoff, The Ropers. The episode, entitled "An Anniversary Surprise", centered around Stanley selling the apartment, and the Ropers moving out. Here is how the show ranked overall in popularity throughout its eight-season run among all television programs:

  1. Spring 1977: #11[3]
  2. 19771978: #3[4]
  3. 19781979: #2[5]
  4. 19791980: #2[6]
  5. 19801981: #8[7]
  6. 19811982: #4[8]
  7. 19821983: #6[9]
  8. 19831984: #31

Development and pilots

Three's Company went through a lengthy development process. Two different sets of writers attempted to Americanize the British A Man About the House. Three pilot episodes were shot for Three's Company, a rarity for American television. The show was recast several times at the instruction of ABC's Fred Silverman.

The show was first penned by famed television writer Larry Gelbart, best known for his emmy-award winning work on CBS's M*A*S*H. Gelbart initially wanted nothing to do with the show, feeling that its relatively simple premise made it substandard in comparison to M*A*S*H. Nonetheless as a favor to Silverman, Gelbart went ahead and developed the show. The first pilot featured Ritter as "David Bell", an aspiring film maker looking for a place to live who just happened to be a great cook. Ritter's better halves were portrayed by Valerie Curtin who played "Jenny" an employee of the DMV, and Suzanne Zenor an aspiring actress named "Samantha". Another difference in the Gelbart pilot was the setting the Ropers' apartment building, which he called the Hacienda Palms, placed in North Hollywood. This plot of the this first pilot looked much like that of the first episode of the actual show. This format of the show just barely made it on to the fall 1976 ABC lineup but was ousted by what ABC felt were more promising series. Ironically, all the new sitcoms that premiered on ABC for the 1976-77 television season with the exception of Three's Company, and the summer premier of What's Happening!! did not survive past one season. Interestingly enough while ABC was in negotiations to re-shoot the pilot, CBS became interested in the show, and made a firm commitment to TTC productions (producers Don Taffner and Ted Bergman's New York based company) to air the show as a mid season replacement in February 1977 with the Gelbart cast. However, at the last minute ABC decided that they wanted the show and made a firm commitment to air the show at midseason with a new cast.

The second pilot was penned by writers Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernie West, better known as NRW, who had gained fame in adapting another British series, Till Death Us Do Part, into All in the Family. The second pilot returned some of the British roots, with the filmaker character David Bell becoming cooking student Jack Tripper like his English counterpart, chef Robin Tripp, and one of the women being renamed Chrissy. Jack's female roommates were portrayed by Joyce DeWitt as florist Janet Wood, and Susan Lanier as secretary Chrissy Snow (actress Denise Galik had originally been given the role but was dismissed a couple of days before the pilot taped). The setting of the show was also moved from North Hollywood to Santa Monica. NRW went on to conceive the show as an all out farce, building the shows plot line heavily on the many misunderstandings encountered by each of the characters. This pilot was actually a remake of the British series episode And Mother Makes Four which was the second episode of the show. The new concept was well liked, with the exception Lanier's portrayal of Chrissy. NRW went on to recast the Chrissy character with Suzanne Somers and shot a third pilot, a remake of the first episode of the British series, which was accepted as the first episode, and aired on ABC in 1977.

In an interview with The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, Silverman said that Suzanne Somers barely made it as a member of the cast. "I was very involved in the casting of Suzanne Somers. We did three pilots", he recalls, "and the Chrissy character still wasn't right. We got to the day before we're starting the production of the series and we didn't have a Chrissy. I was so desperate, I took all the audition tapes and just kind of fast forward them. All of a sudden, they went by Suzanne Somers who I hadn't seen, but I recognized her from her appearance on The Tonight Show, I said 'back that up' and she was great. She's been passed on! And I said 'I don't understand. This girl could play that part, why was she been passed on?' and I couldn't get a straight answer. Anyway, we got her in that day and she was on the set tomorrow and she was terrific in that part. And that was an accident because she never should have gotten the part."[10]

Syndication

The show has been in local syndication since 1982 (ABC aired back-to-back repeats during daytime in the summer of 1981 for an hour) on local stations such as WNEW/WNYW in New York and the sales on the project realized more than $150,000,000 of which Thames took 12.5% ($19,000,000)[11]. It debuted on cable in 1992 on TBS and ran through 1999. Then Nick at Nite bought the show in 2000 and have a 7 year term with other Viacom networks such as TV Land and TNN. In 2007, Viacom renewed their contract for reruns of the show for another 6 years.

In March 2001, after being notified by a viewer, Nick at Nite quickly edited an episode ("The Charming Stranger") where John Ritter's scrotum skin was briefly visible through the bottom of a pair of blue boxer shorts. The most famous quip about this issue was uttered by John Ritter, who told the New York Observer when they asked him about the controversy: "I've requested that Nickelodeon air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't."[12]

The show currently airs on TV Land, TVtropolis and DejaView (the latter two, both Canwest Media properties).

Technical aspect

Three's Company was taped at two places: The first, seventh, and eighth seasons were taped at Metromedia Square while the second through sixth season were taped in Studio 31 of CBS Television City. The cast would get the script on Monday, rehearse from Tuesday to Thursday, and shoot on Friday. Each episode was shot twice in a row using two different audiences. Three cameras were used.

The taping was done in sequence and there were rarely any retakes because the producers were pretty strict. Priscilla Barnes once said, "Our bosses were very, very controlling. If my hair was too blond, I'd get called up in the office."[13]

The opening credits where the trio are frolicking on a boardwalk and riding bumper-cars was shot at the Santa Monica Pier. They have since built a larger amusement park area adjacent to the pier, which wasn't there when the series was filmed.[14]

A later opening sequence that was shot when Priscilla Barnes joined the show featured the new threesome and the other cast members riding a zoo tram and looking at various animals around the zoo. Those sequences were filmed at the Los Angeles County Zoo in Griffith Park.[14]

DVD releases

Anchor Bay Entertainment has released all eight seasons of Three's Company on DVD in Region 1.

DVD name Ep# Release date
Season 1 6 November 11, 2003
Season 2 25 May 4, 2004
Season 3 22 November 2, 2004
Season 4 25 May 3, 2005
Season 5 22 November 15, 2005
Season 6 26 March 7, 2006
Season 7 22 July 25, 2006
Season 8 22 October 3, 2006

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote


Chrissy: You know Jack did the right thing. Fighting is uncivilized. You know if women ran the world there'd be none of these stupid wars.

Mr. Roper: Yeah, all the countries would nag each other to death.


Crissy:just do what i do

Jack: and what will you be doing?

Chrissy duh the same thing your doing only first








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