Tubesday: Three’s Company

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Every Tuesday I write about the television shows I watched growing up and I watched a LOT of tv. Ask my retinas.

Three's Company“Come and knock on our door…”

Rarely have words been sung so cheesily and with such a sense of naughty irony. In the late 1970’s, I was not even 10 when I started watching adult sitcoms. Many of them will undoubtedly end up on this list, but I begin with what is one of the goofiest and also one of the most risque, Three’s Company.

The story of a guy who needed a place to live and ended up bunking with – if not in the Biblical sense – two lovely ladies in an apartment in Santa Monica, California. Jack Tripper (John Ritter) was an aspiring young chef and waking up drunk in the bathtub of Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Krissy Snow’s (Suzanne Somers) apartment got them started on their zany adventure.

The premise also included the fact that, in order to live with two women, Jack had to convince landlord Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) that he was gay because, at the time, apparently sodomy was preferable to a threesome? Frankly, why not both! Ahem, anyway, the show was mainly driven by Tripper’s physical comedy and the inherent misunderstandings that would arise. As Chandler on “Friends” once asked about Three’s Company, “Oh, you mean the episode with the mixup?” alluding to the fact that virtually every episode contained a mixup of some kind, most involving Jack’s sexual ambiguity.

The other two fixtures on the show were Larry Dallas (Richard Kline), the sleazy if harmless upstairs neighbor, and the Regal Beagle, the pub they all frequented. But, the apartment was front and center.

Characters did come and go. Somers left the show after a contract dispute during the fifth season and was replaced briefly by Jenilee Harrison (Krissy’s klutzy cousin, Cindy) and eventually by Priscilla Barnes’ Teri Alden character, a nurse who remained as the third member of the trio until the show went off the air in 1984. Also, the Ropers were replaced by Ralph Furley (Don Knotts) as landlord, when they got their own show, “The Ropers.” Lastly, Lana (Anne Wedgeworth), the lovesick older neighbor, entered the picture to fawn over Jack after season one. I never did get why a lothario like Jack wasn’t all up in Lana’s business.

For me, the funniest episode was when Krissy dated a psychiatrist played by Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), who later had a standing role on “The Ropers.” Jack and Janet mistakenly thought he was a mental patient instead of a doctor and Tambor’s seemingly bizarre behavior reinforced that belief in Jack, who was terrified by Tambor’s re-counting of a children’s poem. Jack having a fight with the ironing board in another episode also proved hilarious.

Other guest appearances included Loni Anderson, James Cromwell, John Larroquette and Joanna Kerns.

After “Three’s Company” ended, it morphed into “Three’s a Crowd,” in which Jack and his live-in girlfriend, Vicky, (who refused to marry him because of commitment issues she had) moved above Jack’s restaurant (Jack’s Bistro). Complications arose when it was revealed that Vicky’s disapproving father had purchased the building. It only survived one season.

Where are they now?

John Ritter passed away a few years ago, suddenly. John’s son, Jason, has appeared in a number of films and television shows including the failed, but very funny, CBS series “The Class.”

Joyce DeWitt was out of acting for many years, but has appeared in a few films including one scheduled for release this year.

Suzanne Somers had moderate success as an actress after “Three’s Company,” most notably in the series “Step by Step” with former “Dallas” start Patrick Duffy. Most of her fame has come from her work as an author of self-help and personal improvement books.

Larry Kline left “Three’s Company” to the cast of “It’s A Living” (another upcoming appearance on Tubesday) and has acted steadily mainly on TV ever since. His daughter, Colby, (hawt) is also in the business.

Jenilee Harrison had a re-occurring role on “Dallas” but spent the last 5 or 6 years working on infomercials.

Priscilla Barnes managed to swing a part in the James Bond film License to Kill not to be confused with the Beastie Boys classic album “License to Ill.” After that, she has consistently had bit roles in films and tv shows until the present.

Sadly, Fell, Lindley and Knotts are all deceased.

Three’s Company Fan Club
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