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Our reviews of Three's Company: Season One (published December 17th, 2003), Three's Company: Season Two (published May 24th, 2004), Three's Company: Season Four (published June 29th, 2005), Three's Company: Season Five (published January 11th, 2006), Three's Company: Season Six (published October 4th, 2006), and Three's Company: Season Seven (published October 4th, 2006) are also available.
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his,
Anchor Bay continues its release of Three's Company with this latest edition, featuring the third season. Many fans claim this batch of episodes were the pinnacle of the show, when the series moved away from relying on sly innuendo and more towards Three Stooges physical comedy. If you have to pick one season of Three's Company to own this could be it.
Facts of the Case
It's hard to tell you much about the show that you probably don't already know. Two girls, Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) and Janet (Joyce DeWitt), and a guy, Jack (John Ritter), live together platonically in sunny Santa Monica. The girls have to hide the fact that their male roommate is straight from their nosy landlords the Ropers (Audra Lindley and Norman Fell). Everyone thinks about sex constantly, and everything sounds dirty, but nobody ever really gets any action at all. The real difference in the third season is how Three's Company finally evolved from just a sexless sex farce into a very broad physical comedy show. The show had a new director, Dave Powers, who came from The Carol Burnett Show. He really upped the comedic value of the show by demanding more focus on the silly elements. such as Chrissy's circuitous logic and Jack's klutziness. He made doors swing faster, the couch seem bigger, and the falls more frequent.
When Three's Company had reached the top of the ratings by its third year television critics and moral leaders were confounded. Here was a silly show that revolved around sex and a blurry morality under which two women could live with one man. There were even protests by Christian fundamentalists, who called for a boycott of the show. John Ritter made public service announcements begging the audience to buy two of everything advertised on the show to counterbalance the protests; the resulting effect on the products kept the series on the air. Yet today Three's Company is tame enough to air on Nick at Nite without so much as an arched eyebrow. My, how things change! The show is now a syndicated champion that seems to be running continuously wherever local affiliates want a safe piece of fluffy nostalgia.
Some of the best episodes of Season Three's twenty-five include:
What most people don't realize is that Three's Company was based on an English sitcom named Man About the House, which had two successful spin-offs in Britain. The producers copied the UK formula to a tee, first giving the Ropers their own show, and later continuing Jack's story in Three's A Crowd. This was the last season to feature the Ropers before they headed off to their own show in 1979. Audra Lindley was excited and ready to go, but Norman Fell thought they would do better to stay with the successful Three's Company. Unfortunately, Norman's instincts were right. Despite one of the largest premiere audiences ever, The Ropers only lasted a season and a half. This collection shows them at top form.
Suzanne Somers blossoms in these episodes. Her first two seasons on the show seem tentative; Chrissy seemed to just be floundering for an identity in the initial run. In this set you can watch Suzanne turn Chrissy Snow into the ditzy woman-child that would make her television's hottest star. Decisions were made by Dave Powers to make strong character choices, and Suzanne seemed to benefit the most. If you want the best of Chrissy Snow, then Three's Company—The Third Season is all you need. She snorts and sports her famous "side ponytail" throughout.
A lot of the extras on the discs are aimed at remembering John Ritter. He was the son of Tex Ritter, one of America's favorite singing cowboys. John had a goofy flair for making pratfalls seem real, and he was quite lovable. His character made great strides for the gay community, since he often had to "play gay" to fool the Ropers. Even though the character wasn't homosexual, the fact he could be seen that way did a lot for the acceptance of gay men. It paved the way for later shows like Ellen and Will and Grace. Ritter was deservedly beloved. This third season finds him in top form with his physical comedy. The new direction of the show allowed him to take risks and develop his timing and talent. There is a very nice tribute to him on this set.
Joyce DeWitt shows up a lot on this set introducing the extra features. She hasn't aged all that well, but she's as warm and friendly as Janet seemed to be on television. She had the hardest, most thankless role of the trio: the straight and stable one. The show's change in direction allowed her to utilize her previous work on stage, and in this third season she shows a confidence that translates well to her character.
The DVD sports the nicest transfer to date for this series. Anchor Bay outdid themselves in terms of quality. Unfortunately the clarity of the transfer does reveal the flaws in the source material, but it was cost prohibitive to remaster the episodes. They look better than any syndicated airing, though. The sound mix is mono, and is fine for what it is. Extras are plentiful, and there's even a gleefully rhapsodic commentary with the guy who wrote Come and Knock on Our Door. Also included are bloopers, and interviews with both Richard Kline (who played Larry) and the director Dave Powers.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Syndication for the show remains strong, so it's hard to imagine why someone would need a DVD collection of the series, unless you're a diehard dyed-in-the-wool fan. I also own the first season collection, and can't imagine myself investing much more in the show. The plots were repetitive and watching them back-to-back got a little stale. Apart from the then-racy setup, the show seems to be just a classic sitcom that stuck to its formula religiously. How many misunderstandings can these people have? (Obviously eight seasons' worth is the answer.)
Three's Company is silly good fun, and Season Three finds the show in its top form. Anchor Bay had rushed out the first season's release after Ritter passed away, but with this collection they finally offer a great transfer and a healthy round of extras that have a lot of thought behind them. This is the crucial set for rabid fans, and probably the best choice for casual collectors who just like the show.
Three's Company is free to go on making people laugh for another thirty years. Anchor Bay is commended for treating us to a nice package for the series. No crimes to be found here, except for something that looks like polygamy but plays out like Disney. Court dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Never-Before-Seen Pilot Episode #2
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