Three's Company

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by ClassyCo, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if there's a thread going about Three's Company already, but if there is, it's not in the first three or pages here.

    So I've started a new one.

    It was a hugely popular farcical bedroom comedy, famous for its jiggle and sizzle, but likewise for its behind-the-scenes feuds among cast, crew, producers, and the ABC network that received nationwide attention.


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    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  2. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    The "Three Blonde Mates" commercial for the reruns done on Nick@Nite, I believe.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  3. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Here's the E! True Hollywood Story episode:

     
  4. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I got into Three's Company some six or seven years ago. As I often woke up earlier than I needed to for school, I would flip the TV channels to see what was on. One morning I stopped on Three's Company on one of these channels (I think it was TV Land?), and I was immediately hooked. The first episodes I watched were the first batch of episodes from the fourth season, shortly after Mr. Furley's arrival, and when Lana was still a part of the lineup.

    I was just starting to become an avid buyer of classic TV shows (whether widely accepted as such, or to me solely) on DVD at the time, so I lingered around on Amazon, and I bought Season Four before ever buying the other seasons. It is kind of strange that you'd buy a mid-season box set of a series, but I knew I liked these episodes, so that's what I went with.

    I'm an odd TV buff, in that I like the shows that are clouded with behind-the-scenes gossip and cast changes; especially the latter because it gives us something to discuss on forums such as this one. If it weren't for such off-camera feuds, controversies, and shifting lineups, then forums like Soap Chat (and others) wouldn't have nearly as many threads active. There just wouldn't be as much to discuss, and it certainly wouldn't be as interesting.

    Out with the Ropers
    During the third season of Three's Company in 1978, the ABC network began expressing interest in a spin-off. They approached Norman Fell and Audra Lindley about doing a spin-off centering on their characters' love-hate relationship that scored high with the parent show's viewers. Lindley was eager to star in her own sitcom, but Fell had different intentions. Because Three's Company was a hit, he wanted to stay in the security that came along with that, although he did apparently express some interest in doing a spin-off after the former was over.

    ABC wouldn't have that, so they decided to sweeten the deal for Fell. They ensured him that if the spin-off didn't last beyond a full season, that Fell and Lindley could return to their roles on Three's Company. Although still reluctant, Fell agreed. The Ropers premiered as a mid-season replacement in March 1979. The initial six-episode duration generated large Nielsen ratings (it finished at #8 for the 1978-79 season), and the series was placed on the network's schedule, this time for a full season's worth of episodes, which began airing in September 1979. With a shift to Saturdays at the start of its first full season, the ratings for The Ropers immediately tanked, and it was cancelled in 1980 after twenty-eight episodes.

    With The Ropers cancelled, Fell approached producers about returning to Three's Company, but he didn't know they had a trick up their sleeve. Since The Ropers had technically lasted longer than one season (a "season-and-a-half" in their lingo), they had no obligation to bring Fell and Lindley back on the parent show. And by this time, Don Knotts had stepped in as the Ropers' replacement, and his popularity with the audience was immense. His chemistry with the existing cast was great, and there wasn't any need to bring back what they had already cast aside. The Ropers did, however, end up doing a guest shot on a Season Five episode called "Night of the Ropers".

    And as they say in Tinseltown.... that's show business.
     
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  5. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Don Knotts was a smash on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. His popularity on THREE'S COMPANY is really debatable.

    People seem to remember the show best today for Suzanne Somers' infamous 1980 negotiations where she shockingly asked for $150,000 per episode plus 10% of the profits after the show had only been on for three years, a staggering sum at the time. She over-reached and producers refused, and she was soon gone from the show.

    But what was so despicable about it was how she threw her co-stars under the bus ("lying constantly," is how Joyce DeWitt put it) for years, with Somers pretending her failed negotiation was some kind of feministic gesture (of course) and claiming with a coquettish shrug that "I just wanted what the boys were getting" in an attempt to trick the public that most leading men on TV routinely got that much -- and leaving people to infer that she was only asking for parity with John Ritter, who in fact wasn't paid anything near that much -- when the only two male actors on television at that time receiving a six figure per episode salary were Alan Alda and Carroll O'Connor (whose already legendary sitcoms had been on for nearly a decade) and, of course, there was Larry Hagman (whose DALLAS had been on a year less than THREE'S COMPANY, but it was the year of "Who Shot JR?", an unprecedented television event).

    Somers' costars never spoke to her again for at least twenty years.

    Over time, in order to heal her career, Somers' gradually began to cop to certain things about her own behavior, and wrote a tell-all memoir about her childhood and the alcoholism which haunted it. But once she had recovered professionally, and after John Ritter died (his wife forced them to talk and make up at a ~1999 Hollywood party) Somers began re-submitting her preferred version of events surrounding the 1980 salary dispute to see if they would "take" this time around for a new generation.

    So both of Patrick Duffy's TV wives were played by the same person. Except that Victoria would have recovered faster.

    Joyce DeWitt continued years more to avoid Somers, until Joyce had a DUI (or something like that) and Somers' talk show reached out to DeWitt and offered for her to come on and tell her story for purposes of damage control. Unfortunately, Joyce DeWitt wound up taking the bait. Apparently, Somers (who reportedly only spoke to Joyce on the air) got what she wanted.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  6. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough. I guess a to-each-their-own scenario would apply to a situation as to where Don Knotts was more popular. Classically, I think he's better thought in those cozy black-and-white Mayberry settings as the loveable Barney Fife, but to newer viewers, he'd probably bring forth memories of the bumbling, but generally easygoing landlord Mr. Furley.
    The Suzanne Somers fallout is generally a topic for discussion when talking about the series, especially among fans and TV buffs. Her request (although it was really her husband that presented the notion) was ridiculous and totally unrealistic. She even admits that she shouldn't have asked for it and instead stayed content with what she was getting. Greed got the best of her.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  7. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    The Reign of (and My Infatuation with) Lana Shields
    Strangely enough, one of my favorite Three's Company characters is Lana Shields, played to the hilt by Ann Wedgeworth. After a prolific career on the stage and TV, she had won a Tony Award in 1978 for her work in Chapter Two. It wasn't long thereafter that she signed a contract with ABC, who assigned her the role of Lana on their hottest show.

    Lana Shields is introduced in the episode "Love Thy Neighbor" (Season 4, Episode 2), in which she has Jack as her male escort. Lana is a slightly older, but sexually promiscuous woman that's severely attracted to Jack. At the end of the episode, she moves in to the same apartment building after noticing a vacancy sign. The next episode, which introduces Mr. Furley, brings forth another plot point: Mr. Furley is attracted to Lana, but she wants Jack. A love triangle (and that term's used loosely) is a comedic device early in the fourth year.

    Right away it seems there was issues with Wedgeworth's entering the show. Apparently some of the cast complained about the size of her role (my eyes are on you Suzanne Somers, and probably Joyce DeWitt, too), the jokes written for her and the laughs she got as a result. There were other issues, too: John Ritter felt that sense Jack was a womanizer, than he wouldn't decline Lana's advances, considering she was an attractive woman. The producers, however, reasoned that since Lana was older, Jack would be repelled. Still, within the next couple of episodes, the writers gradually downsized Lana's presence on the show. Her scenes were cut, and in a few episodes she's absent altogether. She's last seen in "A Black Letter Day" (Season 4, Episode 13), the episode where she's heartbroken because she thinks Jack's fallen for one of her beautiful roommates.


    The decision was eventually made that Jack's resisting Lana's advances was out of character, and didn't make sense. The producers apparently admired Wedgeworth, but seemingly had no choice but to fire her. Wedgeworth, however, insists that she was asked to be "let go", which she probably sticks to for career purposes. (It doesn't look good when you're fired, no matter the reason, no matter the profession.)

    I'm a pretty big fan of Lana. She's one my favorite characters, perhaps because I started watching the show when she was on it. As clear as I can remember, the first episode I watched was the one she's introduced on. I liked her right from the start, and I still enjoy her episodes. I hate when she's gone, although I understand why she didn't work as a full-time character.
     
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    Just in case you don't know about it, @ClassyCo, here's the first episode of the original UK sitcom Three's Company was based on:

     
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  9. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I knew Three's Company was based on Britain's Man About the House, but I've never watched the latter. I'll give it a gander.
     
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  10. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Soap Chat Member

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    I grew up watching Three's Company and loved it. Tuesday nights were must-see TV back then, with Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, followed by Three's Company. I still enjoy most of the reruns, except for the last season where every episode was about Jack, seemingly to pave the way for the lousy spin-off Three's a Crowd.

    Suzanne burned a lot of bridges with her contract shenanigans. I don't think she ever admitted she was wrong in asking for a raise, but rather, she said she could have went about it differently. In the long run, getting fired worked out for her, but she was persona non grata in Hollywood for many years before reinventing herself with the Thighmaster, writing books and starring in "Step by Step." She tries to portray herself as a trailblazer for women in Hollywood, but she really was greedy and did not care how her actions affected the rest of the cast and crew (she missed several rehearsals and tapings, and the writers reportely had to write two different scripts for each episode, one with Chrissy and one without, since they didn't know if Suzanne would show up or not).

    Joyce did appear on Suzanne's talk show, but she did not discuss her DUI. I think part of the purpose of the show was to clear the air between the two, and Joyce also specifically wanted to talk about the joy and laughter that Three's Company provided for the cast and for viewers. They kind of touched on Suzanne's contract debacle, and Suzanne admitted thinking of the show as a business venture and could see why she pissed off everyone. For fans of Three's Company, the Youtube video of their reunion is worth watching.

    As for Lana, she was my mother's favorite character on the show. I could totally see Suzanne being jealous of Ann. She had her moments, but Lana was one of my least favorite characters. I think the writers made the mistake of making her too self-absorbed and not interacting in a genuine human way with the rest of the cast. Most of the time, she would waltz into the threesome's apartment and ask for Jack, fall all over him and then walk out. It would have been a mistake to make her a Mrs. Roper clone, but the character may have worked better if she had some of Mrs. Roper's warmth and interacted more with Janet and Chrissy. Ironically, she was given her best material in her last episode. Janet's reaction was priceless when Lana was trying to point out about Jack's "affair" with one of his roommates, and she told Janet, "And I thought Chrissy was the dumb one!" LOL.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  11. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    As this thread would certainly encourage, yours truly has gotten a renewed interest in Three's Company here recently. Because of this, I decided to re-watch the first season of the show that I've had on DVD for some time, but that I haven't watched in a couple of years.

    Episodic Overview
    Three's Company came onto the airways on March 15, 1977. Its first episode, "A Man About the House", is perhaps one of the best pilot episodes I've seen for a TV series in a long time. (Keep in mind, however, it's been a while since I've started watching a new series, and this itself wasn't technically new, but it some ways it kind of reads that way in my mind.) As we know, the episode follows this plot: roommates Janet (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) awaken one morning after having a going away party for their fellow roommate Eleanor. Once they go into their bathroom, they find a man, by the name of Jack (John Ritter), asleep in their bathtub. To make a long story short, the two girls take a liking to Jack, and they decide to ask him to move in with them. The girls' landlords, however, Stanley (Norman Fell) and Helen Roper (Audra Lindley), aren't keen to the idea of two young women living with a man. Although the trio assures them the arrangement is strictly a platonic one, the landlords don't permit it until Janet sprinkles a fib that Jack is gay.

    Thus starts one of the signature farcical comedies the television screen as ever known.

    There are only five more episodes in this single disc set. Three's Company was a late-starting mid-season replacement (it's actually like an end-season replacement really), so there was only six episodes scheduled. In "And Mother Makes Four", the second episode, Jack is forced to hide the fact that he's living with Janet and Chrissy from Chrissy's mother, who turns out to be a preacher's wife. All is well, however, when it's learned at the end that Mr. Roper's told Chrissy's mother of Jack, and that nothing was indecent because Jack is said to be gay. (In this episode, Mrs. Roper learns of Jack's heterosexuality, but keeps it secret from her husband.) The next episode, "Roper's Niece", has Jack masquerading as a date for Roper's niece, an arrangement Roper only okays because he thinks Jack is gay, and therefore he won't make a pass at his attractive niece. (Do you see a recurring theme? A common tactic early on is Jack's faking homosexual tendencies.)

    In "No Children, No Dogs" (Season 1, Episode 4), the trio of roommates have to head a cute puppy from their landlords given to them by Jack's womanizing car salesman buddy Larry (Richard Kline). Mr. Roper forbids them to keep the pup, but Chrissy devises a plan where the little dog is left on the Ropers' doorstep, and Mrs. Roper passes it off as an anniversary present from her husband. Jack's true masculinity, not a false one, is called into question in the next episode entitled "Jack the Giant Killer". A rude bar patron makes unwanted advances towards Janet and Chrissy, but Jack seemingly cowers from any confrontation. In the end, Janet again bails him out with a fake Vietnam war hero charade. In the season finale, "It's Only Money", the trio believes their apartment to be a victim of local robbery. Their rent money has disappeared, and they worry about how to explain their inability to pay for it to the Ropers. At he conclusion, Mr. Roper says that he took the money from their apartment while he was their fixing their doorbell.

    Show Popularity & Overall Thoughts
    After watching this abbreviated pilot season, I found myself particularly thrilled at the outcome. While the video quality wasn't necessarily the best (especially not on my 55" HD-TV), the shows themselves were very good. The writing here is more sedate than anything I've seen the show offer in the following seasons. The physical comedy isn't as broad, but that slapstick humor comes to full form in Season Two.

    Three's Company was an immediate hit back in 1977, with its first episode finishing at #28 in the weekly ratings. Within a week or two, the show was placing in the Nielsen Top Ten, where it would stay until its final season started in 1983. The critical reviews, however, were nothing less of horrific. The series was critiqued for its plot, humor, acting, and not surprisingly, for being immoral and corrupting America's youth. Religious leaders and organizations took stances against the show, but ABC stood by their baby, feeding it to the top of the Nielsen's.

    Overall, I can say that I really enjoyed this first season. I can understand how fans waited --- perhaps impatiently --- for the second season to come out a decade or so ago because this pilot year is show brief. The writing, from a fan's point of logic, is well done, as are the performances themselves.

    Buy it. Watch it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
     

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