Judge Bryan Pope once had intimate relations with a CPR dummy. It ended badly. He doesn't like to talk about it.
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 Three (published December 8th, 2004), Three's Company: Season Four (published June 29th, 2005), Three's Company: Season Five (published January 11th, 2006), and Three's Company: Season Seven (published October 4th, 2006) are also available.
Jack: Come on, Larry, haven't you ever thought about getting married?
Yeah, but the rabbit got better. (sigh) After five years, Three's Company was getting a little long in the tooth, to say the least. After the umpteenth variation on the same old tired sex joke, after yet another reference to the elusive Greedy Gretchen, after the one-zillionth time of watching Mr. Furley's eyes threaten to pop out right out of his skull, I found myself hoping—no, begging—for something even the slightest bit fresh.
Who knew season six would have a wild card up its sleeve?
Facts of the Case
Three's Company: Season Six contains 25 episodes (or 28, depending on how you do the math) spread over four discs.
Of all the blonde roommates to ever knock on Three's Company's door, Priscilla Barnes was my favorite. Her Terri Alden was the smart and sexy answer to Suzanne Sommer's iconic, buxom twit, and an elegant departure from Jenilee Harrison's gawky, giraffe-like klutz.
According to the liner notes that accompany this set, Nurse Terri was introduced to amp up the sexual tension in the apartment (play doctor, yes?). The producers didn't think Harrison's Cindy Snow was a likely target of Jack's lust, and, indeed, watching the then 33-year-old John Ritter ogle and drool over the college coed is, like, kinda creepy. And let's be honest: The first few episodes collected here serve as an embarrassing reminder that the blandly pretty Harrison was no match for the rest of the cast when it came to comedy. So busy is she trying to hit her marks without upstaging her Amazonian self that she tramples right over her punchlines. So pardon me if I don't shed a tear during the awkward early scenes that find Ritter and Joyce DeWitt practically shoving the youngster on her way to UCLA. That's showbiz, kid.
Enter Alden, who breathes much-needed life into this tired workhorse of a show. As the take-no-guff nurse who unleashes an unprecedented vicious streak in Jack before finally melting his heart (the two-part season premiere ends on a poignant note, unusual for this series), Barnes clicks instantly with the always likeable Ritter and the woefully underrated DeWitt. Finally, here is a third roommate with sex appeal to spare and the smarts to know how to use it.
But Three's Company will forever be remembered as a showcase for Ritter, and the fawning producers wouldn't have it any other way. After all, they fanned the fire, likening Ritter to a modern-day Buster Keaton and giving him over-indulgent comedy set pieces like his musical star turn in "Up in the Air." For five loooooooong minutes, Ritter bounces around the set like a kangaroo on Quaaludes, leaving two dozen extras (Look! It's Greg Brady!) staring in slack-jawed mock amazement and the rest of us playing Spot the Boom Mic.
That's not to deny the late Ritter's comic abilities, but simply to point out the producers' unwillingness to rein him in every now and then. For an example of Ritter done right, check out his deliriously silly couch cuddle with "Dominique" in "Boy Meets Dummy." The moment is low in concept but high on laughs. Season six could have used more of those.
If there were occasional ripples of discontent among the revolving-door cast, as has long been reported, it's not hard to see why. With so much attention lavished on Ritter, the show threatened to teeter off balance. So thank goodness for DeWitt, as the unlikely straight man, who kept the show more or less grounded throughout its eight-year run. Spunky, sharp-tongued and always reacting to her costars, DeWitt's Janet is interesting to watch, even when she's summoned near the end of the season to step out of character as an obnoxious, blonde airhead in the unlikely "Janet Wigs Out."
Oh well. Give Three's Company credit for almost making it to the end of the season without one ditzy roommate. I guess old habits die hard.
Three's Company—Season Six presents all episodes in their original full-frame format with Dolby Digital Mono audio. Subtitles not included. Extras include liner notes, an audio commentary by director Dave Powers on "Jack Bares All," and the hour-long special "The Best of Three's Company," hosted by Lucille Ball, who gushes over a show that "didn't try to change the world." Hmm, Three's Company as diplomat on the world stage? Hey, why not? According to "Laughs Around the World," the last extra in this package, the titillating sitcom sold in Poland. Just check out their take on "Paradise Lost," which is virtually a shot-for-shot remake of the American version. A fascinating inclusion.
Completists will want this set. All others can be content catching it on TV Land.
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Studio: Anchor Bay
• Liner notes
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