Three's Company

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Three's Company
Threes company logo.png
FormatSitcom
Based onMan About the House created by Johnnie Mortimer
Brian Cooke
Developed byDon Nicholl
Michael Ross
Bernie West
StarringJohn Ritter
Joyce DeWitt
Suzanne Somers
Norman Fell
Audra Lindley
Don Knotts
Richard Kline
Ann Wedgeworth
Jenilee Harrison
Priscilla Barnes
Theme music composerJoe Raposo
Opening theme"Three's Company, Too", performed by Ray Charles & Julia Rinker
Ending theme"Three's Company, Too" (instrumental)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English[1]
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes172 (+ 2 episodes of The Ropers aired in syndication as Three's Company) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Michael Ross
Bernie West (entire run)
Don Nicholl (1977–1981)
George Burditt (1981–1984)
Location(s)Metromedia Square
Hollywood, California (1977, 1982–1984)
ABC Television Center
Hollywood, California (1977)
CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1977–1982)
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)NRW Productions
T.T.C. Productions, Inc.
DistributorDLT Entertainment
The Program Exchange
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Original runMarch 15, 1977 (1977-03-15) – September 18, 1984 (1984-09-18)
Chronology
Followed byThe Ropers
Three's a Crowd
Related showsMan About the House
External links
Website
 
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Three's Company
Threes company logo.png
FormatSitcom
Based onMan About the House created by Johnnie Mortimer
Brian Cooke
Developed byDon Nicholl
Michael Ross
Bernie West
StarringJohn Ritter
Joyce DeWitt
Suzanne Somers
Norman Fell
Audra Lindley
Don Knotts
Richard Kline
Ann Wedgeworth
Jenilee Harrison
Priscilla Barnes
Theme music composerJoe Raposo
Opening theme"Three's Company, Too", performed by Ray Charles & Julia Rinker
Ending theme"Three's Company, Too" (instrumental)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English[1]
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes172 (+ 2 episodes of The Ropers aired in syndication as Three's Company) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Michael Ross
Bernie West (entire run)
Don Nicholl (1977–1981)
George Burditt (1981–1984)
Location(s)Metromedia Square
Hollywood, California (1977, 1982–1984)
ABC Television Center
Hollywood, California (1977)
CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1977–1982)
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)NRW Productions
T.T.C. Productions, Inc.
DistributorDLT Entertainment
The Program Exchange
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Original runMarch 15, 1977 (1977-03-15) – September 18, 1984 (1984-09-18)
Chronology
Followed byThe Ropers
Three's a Crowd
Related showsMan About the House
External links
Website

Three's Company is an American sitcom that aired from March 15, 1977, to September 18, 1984, on ABC. It is based on the British sitcom, Man About the House.

The story revolves around three single roommates, Janet Wood, Chrissy Snow, and Jack Tripper, who all platonically share Apartment 201 in a Santa Monica, California[2] apartment building owned by Mr. and Mrs. Roper. Later, following Suzanne Somers' departure, Jenilee Harrison joined the cast as Cindy Snow (Chrissy's cousin), who was later replaced by Priscilla Barnes as Terri Alden. After the Ropers were spun-off into their own sitcom, Don Knotts joined the cast as the roommates' new landlord Ralph Furley, brother of the new building owner, Bart 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 the rent.

Plot[edit]

1977 series premiere photo

After crashing a party and finding himself passed out in the bathtub, cooking school student Jack Tripper meets Janet Wood, a florist, and Chrissy Snow, a secretary, in need of a new roommate. Having only been able to afford living at the YMCA, Jack quickly accepts the offer to move in.

However, due to overbearing landlord Stanley Roper's intolerance for co-ed living situations, even in a multi-bedroom apartment, Jack is allowed to move in only after Janet tells Mr. Roper that Jack is gay. Although Mrs. Roper figures out Jack's true sexuality in the second episode, she does not tell her husband, who tolerates but mocks him. 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 primarily using three main sets: the trio's apartment, their landlord's apartment, and a neighborhood pub called The Regal Beagle. In later seasons more sets were used, frequently depicting the apartment of Jack's friend Larry, Angelino's restaurant, Jack's Bistro, the hospital where Terri worked, and Janet's flower shop.

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

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 (not to be confused with the blind R&B musician) and Julia Rinker.

Characters and cast[edit]

The original landlords and cast, 1977
Ann Wedgeworth (bottom right) appeared in only Season 4.
Jenilee Harrison (middle, top) appeared in only Seasons 5 and 6.

Primary characters[edit]

RoleSeasonsDetailsPortrayed by
Jack Tripper1–8A clumsy culinary student (later chef, then restaurant owner) from San Diego, Navy veteran, and swinging bachelor.John Ritter
Janet Wood1–8Born in Indiana, she is a down-to-earth woman who was also an aspiring dancer. She worked as manager of the "Arcade Flower Shop" and later in the last season as an aerobics instructor.Joyce DeWitt
Chrissy Snow1–5A ditzy secretary from Fresno whose real name is Christmas Snow.Suzanne Somers
Cindy Snow5–6Chrissy's accident-prone cousin, a secretary and later, veterinary student at UCLA.Jenilee Harrison
Terri Alden6–8An intelligent nurse, unlucky in love.Priscilla Barnes

Secondary characters[edit]

RoleSeasonsDetailsPortrayed by
Larry Dallas1-8A playboy neighbor, used car salesman, and Jack's best friend.Richard Kline
Stanley Roper1–3A hard-nosed landlord.Norman Fell
Helen Roper1–3Stanley's muumuu-wearing, love-starved wife.Audra Lindley
Ralph Furley4–8A goofy, yet friendly, flamboyantly-dressed landlord who fancies himself a ladies' man.Don Knotts
Lana Shields4An older female love-starved neighbor who pursued Jack and was in turn pursued by Mr. Furley.Ann Wedgeworth

Recurring characters[edit]

RoleSeasonsDetailsPortrayed by
Jim1–5Bartender at The Regal BeaglePaul Ainsley
Mike5–8Bartender at The Regal BeagleBrad Blaisdell
Dean Travers1–6Dean at Jack's cooking schoolWilliam Pierson
Rev. Luther Snow3-4Chrissy's minister fatherPeter Mark Richman
Linda2-3Jack's girlfriend and one-time roommateAnne Schedeen
Frank Angelino6–7Jack's short-tempered bossJordan Charney
Felipe Gómez6-7Jack's jealous co-worker at Angelino's who also worked at Jack's Bistro as cook for a few episodes.Gino Conforti

Cast changes[edit]

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 television 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. Since Ann Wedgeworth did not appreciate her diminishing role in the series, Lana was dropped from the show without any explanation before the season was half over. The other new addition that fall was the new building manager, Ralph Furley (played by Don Knotts), 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 Somers' demands for a heavily increased salary (from $30,000 to $150,000 per episode, plus 10% of the show's profits[3]) were not met, Somers went on a strike of sorts. 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. Somers' contract was not renewed and Chrissy's place in the apartment was taken by her clumsy cousin Cindy Snow (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.

After more than 30 years of not talking to each other, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt finally made up and reunited for Suzanne's web series Breaking Through which aired February 2, 2012.[4][5]

Broadcast history[edit]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
Season premiereSeason finale
16March 15, 1977April 21, 1977
225September 13, 1977May 16, 1978
322September 12, 1978May 15, 1979
425September 11, 1979May 6, 1980
522October 28, 1980May 19, 1981
628October 6, 1981May 18, 1982
722September 28, 1982May 10, 1983
822September 27, 1983September 18, 1984

Nielsen ratings[edit]

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.

  1. Spring 1977: #11[6]
  2. 19771978: #3[7]
  3. 19781979: #2[8]
  4. 19791980: #1[9]
  5. 19801981: #8 (tie)[10]
  6. 19811982: #4[11]
  7. 19821983: #6[12]
  8. 19831984: not in top 30

Development and pilots[edit]

Three's Company went through a lengthy development process. Two different sets of writers attempted to Americanize the British Man About the House. Three pilot episodes were shot for Three's Company, a rarity for American television[citation needed] (although All In The Family had shot three pilots between 1968 and 1970). The show was recast several times at the instruction of ABC's Fred Silverman.

The show was first penned by famed Broadway writer Peter Stone who set the series in New York. Stone envisioned the Jack Tripper character as a successful, yet underpaid, chef in a fancy French restaurant while the characters who were to become Janet and Chrissy were to be a secretary for a CEO, and a high style fashion model respectively. Silverman felt that the treatment would not play to middle America and thus passed on the script. Silverman then enlisted the services of 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 a pilot episode with his son in law who named the series Three's Company. Gelbart's adaptation closely followed the British series. He envisioned 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 as an aspiring actress named "Samantha". Gelbart reset the Ropers' apartment building, which he called the Hacienda Palms, from New York to North Hollywood, California. This plot of this pilot looked much like that of the first episode of the actual show. Liked by Silverman, a pilot was ordered by ABC which taped in early 1976. 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. Of all the new sitcoms that premiered on ABC for the 1976–1977 television season, only Three's Company and the summer premiere of What's Happening!! went on to a second season. 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 Bergmann'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 followed the British series even more closely, with the filmmaker character David Bell becoming cooking student Jack Tripp like his English counterpart, chef Robin Tripp, and one of the women being renamed Chrissy (a character name also featured in the British version; however, the US character bore more resemblance to the other British female character, Jo). 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 the beachside in Santa Monica. NRW went on to conceive the show as an all out farce, building the show's 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 of Lanier's portrayal of Chrissy.

Despite the doubts about Lanier's portrayal as Chrissy, Silverman put the show on the network lineup, to air in March 1977, yet ordered a search for a new Chrissy. 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 forwarded 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.".[13] With Somers set in the role the third pilot hastily went into production in January 1977. NRW had initially thought about recasting Ritter at the last minute before the pilot taped. Although liked by test audiences, the producers felt Ritter's foolish and clumsy portrayal of Jack made his character seem somewhat effeminate; Barry Van Dyke, and future television director Michael Lembeck, who had originally auditioned for the now renamed Jack Tripper, were initially considered to take the role. Nonetheless Silverman championed for Ritter to stay on the show. The third pilot was accepted by ABC, and was followed by five additional episodes for the show's spring tryout.

Syndication[edit]

The show has been in local syndication since 1982 (ABC aired back-to-back repeats during daytime in the summer of 1981) on local stations such as WNEW-TV in New York City and the sales on the project realized more than $150,000,000 of which Thames took 12.5% ($19,000,000).[14] It debuted on cable in 1992 on TBS and ran through 1999. Then Nick at Nite bought the show in 2000 and have a seven-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 six 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"[15] (quoting an advertising jingle for Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars).

The show currently airs on TVtropolis and DejaView (the latter two, both Shaw Media properties). In French Canada, it currently airs on Prise 2, using a soundtrack dubbed in Montreal.

Technical aspects[edit]

Three's Company was recorded at two locations: the first, seventh, and eighth seasons were taped at Metromedia Square and ABC Television Center while the second through sixth season were taped in Studio 31 at 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 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."[16] The opening credits where the trio are frolicking on a boardwalk and riding bumper-cars was shot at the Santa Monica Pier, prior to the building of a larger amusement park adjacent to the pier.[17]

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 Zoo in Griffith Park.[17]

TV movie[edit]

In May 2003 NBC aired a two hour television movie entitled Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company, a docudrama featuring actors portraying Ritter, Dewitt, Somers and other actors on the series. The movie covered the entire run of the series from the pilots to the final episode but the contract negotiations and subsequent departure of Suzanne Somers provided much of the drama. Joyce Dewitt co-produced and narrated the movie; Ritter and Somers both had some input but neither appeared in the project.

DVD releases[edit]

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

DVD nameEp#Release date
Season 16November 11, 2003
Season 225May 4, 2004
Season 322November 2, 2004
Season 425May 3, 2005
Season 522November 15, 2005
Season 626March 7, 2006
Season 722July 25, 2006
Season 822October 3, 2006

References[edit]

  1. ^ Three's Company (TV Series 1976–1984) - IMDb
  2. ^ "Official ''Three's Company'' website". Threescompany.com. 2005-10-01. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  3. ^ ""Three's Company" at the Museum of Broadcast Communications". Museum.tv. 1977-03-15. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  4. ^ "Suzanne Somers Breaking Through". CafeMom. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers Reunite After Over 30 Years! To Air Feb. 2 On The Web; 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Winners - SitcomsOnline.com News Blog". Blog.sitcomsonline.com. 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  6. ^ "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  7. ^ "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  8. ^ "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  9. ^ "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  10. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  11. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  12. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980s". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  13. ^ "Fred Silverman video interview - part 7 (talks about Three's Company about 21:00 mark)". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  14. ^ The US syndication profits. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  15. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: John Ritter Flashes Camera". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  16. ^ Serena Kappes (December 31, 2002). "Barnes statement on controlling producers". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  17. ^ a b Gary Wayne. "Hollywood on Location - TV Locations". Seeing-stars.com. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 

External links[edit]