Come and knock on our door,
We’ve been waiting for you,
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his,
Three’s Company too
In the list of great tv sitcoms, I rank Three’s Company incredibly high, even if it did first air nearly 40 years ago. For its theme song alone, it would have been a classic. But the series, about three roommates and their chronic misunderstandings, well, it’s truly the perfect sum of all its parts.
Set in California in the late 70s, the stars of Three’s Company were young and fresh faced – the gorgeous yet dimwitted Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers), the quick-witted Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and the bumbling, loveable Jack Tripper (the late, great John Ritter). Under the impression that Jack is gay, landlord Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) allows the three of them to live together in his apartment building; in later seasons, Fell’s Roper would be replaced with the equally hilarious Don Knots’ Ralph Furley.
For me, Three’s Company is as personal a series as it gets. I watched it religiously growing up in the early 80s. In syndication, the show was everywhere when I came home from school. I think you’d get it for roughly two hours straight between channels out of Toronto and Buffalo. Watching Three’s Company, I learned about women and men, misunderstandings, pratfalls, and even more misunderstandings. I had a crush on Suzanne Somers and thought John Ritter’s Jack was just about the funniest guy I’d ever seen. Jack’s fear of flying and the episode where he takes tranquillizers – hilarious. The one where a dating service unknowingly fixes up Jack and Janet? Classic.
Even when Somers left, the show carried on, with Jennilee Harrison’s Cindy Snow and Priscilla Barnes’ Terri Alden ably stepping into her spot. Really, though the cast were all great, it was Ritter’s show. He simply could do it all (including make a mean beef bourguignon).
This year, Anchor Bay released the entire series on DVD. Though its seven seasons have been previously ISSUE, this is an incredibly inexpensive way to get one of the pioneering sexual sitcoms in tv history. There are bonus features galore, including remembrances of John Ritter by his former castmates. While some of the humour is absolutely dated (and probably a little offensive depending on your own personal taste), the performances manage to transcend the era, the original cast especially, who defined ensemble comedy for the time.
You can order a copy of Three’s Company: The Complete Series here.