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Three's Company
Three's Company
'Three's Company Season 2 main cast photo
Basic Information
Developed for TV by: Don Nicholl
Michael Ross
Bernie West
Created by: Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke
Based upon: Script of British series Man About The House, written by Mortimer/Cooke
Spinoffs/
Followed by:
The Ropers
Three's A Crowd
Related shows: Man About The House
Website/URL: http://www.threescompany.com
Cast Information
Executive Producer(s): Michael Ross
Bernie West (entire run)
Don Nicholl (1977–1981)
George Burditt (1981–1984)
Starring: John Ritter
Joyce DeWitt
Suzanne Somers
Norman Fell
Audra Lindley
Don Knotts
Richard Kline
Ann Wedgeworth
Jenilee Harrison
Priscilla Barnes
Theme music: Joe Raposo
Opening theme music: "Three's Company, Too", performed by Ray Charles & Julia Rinker
End theme: "Three's Company, Too" (instrumental)
Production company: NRW Productions
T.T.C. Productions, Inc.
Studio: Metromedia Square
Hollywood, California (1977, 1982–1984)
ABC Television Center
Hollywood, California (1977)
CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1977–1982)
Distribution and Broadcast Information
Distributed by: DLT Entertainment
FremantleMedia (in tandem with DLT Entertainment, internationally)
The Program Exchange (formerly)
First aired: March 15, 1977
Last aired: September 9, 1984
Seasons: 8
No. of episodes: 172 episodes
Current status: Ended, spun off into Three's A Crowd series
Country: United States
Language: English
Series runtime: 25 minutes
Three's Company Script

Three's Company is an American sitcom that aired from March 15, 1977, to September 18, 1984, on ABC-TV. 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, CA apartment building owned by Mr. and Mrs. Roper. Later, following Suzanne Somers's 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 series, titled The Ropers at the start of the 1979-80 television season, Don Knotts joined the cast as the roommates' new landlord Ralph Furley, brother of the new building owner.

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.

PlotEdit

After crashing a wedding reception 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 Ropers sell the apartment building, moving on to the Cheviot Hills section of L.A. in The Ropers series.

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, CA, and was filmed primarily using three main sets: the trio's apartment, their landlord's apartment and the neighborhood pub called The Regal Beagle. In later seasons more sets were used, frequently depicting Larry's apartment, 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) 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, Janet's intolerance for a roommate romance, and later on, Larry's and Jack's friendship 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 composer/singer Ray Charles (not to be confused with the legendary late blind Blues/R&B musician) and Julia Rinker.

Broadcast historyEdit

EpisodesEdit

Main article: List of Three's Company episodes

Nielsen ratingsEdit

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 season. 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[1]
  2. 1977-1978: #3[2]
  3. 1978-1979: #2[3]
  4. 1979–1980: #1[4]
  5. 1980-1981: #8 (tie)[5]
  6. 1981-1982: #4[6]
  7. 1982–1983: #6[7]
  8. 1983–1984: not in top 30

Development and pilotsEdit

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 (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 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 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 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 Starring Johnny Carson, 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.".[8] With Somers set in the role the third pilot hastly 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.

SyndicationEdit

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).[9] 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"[10] (quoting an advertising jingle for Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars).

The show currently airs on TV Land, Antenna TV, TVtropolis and DejaView (the latter two, both Shaw Media properties). In French Canada, it currently airs on Prise 2 (Take 2), and the series was dubbed in Montreal.

Technical aspectsEdit

Three's Company was recorded at two locations: the first, seventh, and eighth seasons were taped at Metromedia Square 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."[11] 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.[12]

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.[12]

TV movieEdit

In May 2003 NBC-TV 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 releasesEdit

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

DVD nameEp#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

ReferencesEdit

  1. "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1976.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  2. "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1977.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  3. "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1978.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  4. "TV Ratings > 1970s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://ctva.biz/US/TV-Ratings/CTVA_NielsenRatings_1978-1979.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  5. "TV Ratings > 1980s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1980.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  6. "TV Ratings > 1980s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1981.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  7. "TV Ratings > 1980s". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1982.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  8. "Fred Silverman video interview - part 7 (talks about Three's Company about 21:00 mark)". Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAxx6F2iynE. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  9. The US syndication profits. Books.google.com. http://books.google.com/books?id=x3kIJEC9QYUC&pg=PA162&ots=ILbfV85Gcc&sig=5fNWowViNjtehO0w12_CEUMXn2Q. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  10. "Urban Legends Reference Pages: John Ritter Flashes Camera". Snopes.com. http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/ritter.asp. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  11. Serena Kappes PEOPLE (December 31, 2002). "Barnes statement on controlling producers". Edition.cnn.com. http://edition.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/TV/12/31/people.watn.barnes/index.html. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Gary Wayne. "Hollywood on Location - TV Locations". Seeing-stars.com. http://www.seeing-stars.com/Locations/TVlocations3.shtml. Retrieved 2011-02-03.

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