Three's A Crowd and Three's Company


Three's A Crowd (1984-1985)
Three's Company (1977-1984)
Type: Spin Off

   This entry is part of my secret shame. Not because I'm ashamed I watched Three's Company and enjoyed it. No, that is part of my very public shame. The secret shame comes from the fact that Three's Company and it's spin-off shows are some of the most obvious and well known cases of spin-offs and should have been on this list from the very first moment I put this site up. The fact is I thought I DID include them. Would've sworn the farm on it. But somehow, through some brain fart (or as the scientists properly call it a methane expulsion of the cerebellum) I left them out entirely. It's like Baskin And Robbins forgetting to include vanilla in the 31 flavors. We're talking the basics man! But I digress and get to the actual point of this page...

   Three's Company was a monster hit sitcom of the 70's. Nearly every episode in some way was a bedroom farce - a smutty comedy of errors.

   The show's first episode set up the premise of the show. Janet and Chrissy, two lovely young women, have thrown a going away party for their former roommate. They find one of the party goers who they don't know, Jack Tripper, asleep in their shower. It turns out Jack could use a place to live and seeing as they've just lost a roommateone they could use a new one. While concerned about sharing an apartment with a man, by the end of the episode they decided to give it a shot. The only problem is that to get the landlord Mr. Ropers to accept the idea of a man living with two women they have to lie and tell him that Jack is gay, thus giving even more opportunity for confusion, miscommunication and, hopefully, comedy.

   An average episode might go something like this. Mr. Roper accidentally overhears only part of a conversation where Jack, who is a cook, talks about stuffing a turkey and totally misunderstands thinking Jack is describing a sick sexual act. Meanwhile, Jack is actually going to be preparing the turkey in question for a date he has that night with a beautiful girl. Mr. Roper still misunderstanding keeps trying to keep Jack from cooking his turkey thinking he's actually going to do something else very dirty. Jack gets more and more frustrated as he tries to avoid Mr. Roper and keep his date from finding out he lives with two women. In trying to keep his living conditions secret from his date and his sexuality a secret from Mr. Roper, Jack would end up with his date thinking he has had sex with the turkey and Mr. Roper would make a joke about Jack being gay. The end.

   That is about the crappiest example ever and utterly made up. The show would never actually stoop to a story quite that low but it gives you an idea of the mechanics of how the plots worked - misunderstandings, miscommunications and overheard conversations adding up, hopefully, to comic hilarity. By today's standards of humor and raunch the actual plots used on the show (setting my very offensive and fake example aside) are not all that dirty but at the time were quite racy.

   Still, after a number of seasons the gimmick did get old. Over those seasons there were a number of cast changes as well. Jack and Janet went through a couple of roommates and after being given a show of their own Mr. and Mrs. Roper were replaced as the landlord by Don Knott's Mr. Furley. Finally it seemed as if the show had exploited every possible smutty idea it could... twice... and the decision was made to cancel the show.

   But it was also decided that they should try and keep the show alive by spinning Jack off into a new show. And so before the end of Three's Company, the characters for the new show were introduced. Jack got a new girlfriend, Vicky, who he wanted to marry. Only, even though she loved Jack, Vicky didn't want to get married. Vicky also had an overprotective dad who didn't trust Jack.

   The end of Three's Company found Janet getting married and thus moving out and the other final roommate - Terri - moving to Hawaii. With nothing to tie him down, Jack and Vicky moved in together in an apartment over the restaurant Jack owned. Again, Jack wanted to actually get married but Vicky didn't. Her dad of course didn't like the idea of them not being married and, so that he could have some control over the situation, he bought the building where their apartment and Jack's restaurant were located. That was the starting point for the new show Three's A Crowd.

   The show was not a huge hit and only lasted one season. In syndication the episodes of Three's A Crowd now air as part of Three's Company with the show retitled Three's Company Too.

   The transition from Three's Company to Three's A Crowd also caused some hurt feelings with the cast of Three's Company. First off, what seemed like a logical move to many people would have been not to bring in a new girl for Jack but instead to have had him fall for Janet who he had lived with for so long and spin THEM off as a couple.

   Secondly, in getting things ready for the new show, much of the cast felt their big finale was getting stepped on. It was their big goodbye episode and they were having to share their precious final minutes of screen time with the cast of the new show.

Other Three's Company Crossover Links
Three's Company and The Ropers

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