Last of the Realists

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No news hook for this one, but dig the astute critical intelligence on display in this comment from Jump The Shark's Three's Company page:

In one early episode, Jack fakes having a cold and his gf of the episode makes him a pot of 'chicken soup' which she delivers to him but when she discovers he's faking being ill she dumps the whole pot of 'chicken soup' -which is just cold, DRY noodles and NO soup whatsoever ( not a drop of broth or fleck of chicken is to be seen) which is so poorly done that Jack's 70's feathered hair obviously stays as blow-dried as EVER as he just brushes the noodles off his noggin! LAME!! Come on, Ritter, couldn't you have at least had WATER dribbling off your head to give the audience some idea that this was supposed to be SOUP?! I mean, Lucy nearly DROWNED ( in Real Life) in a shower stall performing a lengthy stunt in front of a live studio audience ( 'The Lucy Show' "Lucy and Viv Install a Shower") and yet Ritter couldn't even stand a few *drops* of liquid dripping off his head?! Phooey!!

John Ritter tribute here.

Copies of Chris Mann's Come and Knock on Our Door, the definitive history of Three's Company, available starting at $4.95.

Was Priscilla "Terri" Barnes just a pale Suzanne Somers knockoff, or did she bring a style all her own? Discuss it at the Priscilla Barnes page on IMDb.

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  1. Working hard, Cavanaugh? 😉

  2. Hey did you guys see that episode of Three’s Company – you know the one where it all was just a big misunderstanding?

    Jump the Shark is a great site, and it’s neat to see that phrase become common in our language. But damn I wish that site was a little better organized.

  3. I dunno, I have trouble getting worked up about Three’s Company. I was one of the uncritical masses who watched and laughed when it was on, but it’s not like I’m eager to buy season collections on dvd or anything like that…

  4. Ironchef, is that the one where Mr. Roper threatens to evict Jack?

  5. I don’t think so, joe. It was the one where Mr. Furley threatens to evict Jack.

  6. Well, I’d have to agree that it was LAME not to have any liquid poured on Ritter’s head, but I see no reason to blame Ritter. I’d imagine that it was the producer or director’s call, especially if it was an early episode before Ritter really became a household name.

    And am I really commenting on an episode of Three’s Company? Now I’ll have that damn song stuck in my head all day.

  7. On one episode of Futurama, Fry found himself in a precarious situation pretending to be the fiance of both Leela and Amy. When simultaneously pressed by Amy’s parents and Leela’s would-be lover Zapp Brannigan to kiss his “beloved,” Fry thought that he could solve this tricky dilemma by remembering what he watched on Three’s Company.

    Of course, being Fry, all he could do was repeatedly hum the theme song, which did him absolutely no good.

  8. Posts like this make it hard to recommend H&R to my political opponents. They’ll take one look on a random typical day, find a couple of these pop culture fluff posts and wonder why I think this site is so great.

  9. SPD, I remember that episode. Hehe.

    dead-elvis, you actually have real, honest to god political opponents? That’s hot. I had a nemesis once, but I disposed of him. I was thinking about getting an arch-enemy, but heck, maybe I’ll just drum up some political opponents. That leads right into all the good stuff like mud-slinging, character assasination, media manipulation and outright voter fraud. I’ll get those bastards if it’s the last thing I do.

  10. Remember that episode that really sucked?

  11. “That’s hot. I had a nemesis once, but I disposed of him. I was thinking about getting an arch-enemy, but heck, maybe I’ll just drum up some political opponents. That leads right into all the good stuff like mud-slinging, character assasination, media manipulation and outright voter fraud. I’ll get those bastards if it’s the last thing I do.”

    LOL, actually what I meant were friends of mine who are Republicans who are otherwise intelligent people. I would like to nudge them towards the libertarian end. This blog would make a nice visit for them but they aren’t going to take it seriously when they see posts like this.

  12. Just to be clear: I wasn’t being ironic in referring to “astute critical intelligence.” It’s amazing how much blatant irreality you were supposed to accept from sitcoms: Roj’s no-lens glasses on What’s Happening, the lack of a bathroom door in Janet and Chrissy’s apartment… My only argument with this critic is that an actor who had as many different foodstuffs dumped on his head as Ritter deserved an occasional bye.

  13. dead elvis,
    I dunno, the Corner seems to have more pop culture fluff, I just prefer H&R’s (maybe it’s a generational thing). I think the fluff is a net positive, anyways.

  14. How can you guys POSSIBLY believe that the episode about misunderstanding the out-of-context statement can compare to the episode where Mr. Roper was depressed because Mrs. Roper was horny and wanted to have sex with him? I’m still upset that the writers didn’t get an Emmy for that one.

  15. “Three’s Company” is like “Citizen Kane” compared to, say, “Hope and Faith”…

  16. Maybe the show’s producers were so loath to risk Mr. Ritter contracting pneumonia because they knew about the star’s fragile health twenty years before he eventually died!

    Such a reading underscores the sheer bravery of every pratfall and windy outdoor take in the years that followed, from Three’s a Crowd, the “Problem Child” movies and so on through his renaissance in indie films and his triumphant return to vapid, successful sitcoms.

  17. Has anyone seen the British sitcom “Man About the House” on which “Three’s Company” was based? (I haven’t.) Were the Hilarious Misunderstandings any better in the British version?

  18. dead_: If you’re up to the effort, steer your opponents toward Postrel (dynamist.com). VP connects fluff with conventionally more weighty ideas. Fluff is the efflorescence of cultural values.

    Was it my imagination, or did Mike Farrell direct an episode in which Jack talked Cindy out of her post-abortion suicidal depression? Laffs, laffs, laffs…

  19. “Was Priscilla “Terri” Barnes just a pale Suzanne Somers knockoff, or did she bring a style all her own?”

    Priscilla Barnes couldn’t carry her weight in a freight elevator.

    …Suzanne Somers’ what I’ll call “Graciesque” was often a big chunk of what was funny when “…there was a big misunderstanding.”

    It’s not like Priscilla Barnes was to Suzanne Somers as Cheryl Ladd was to Farrah Fawcett even, it’s more like Priscilla Barnes was to Suzanne Somers as Tanya Roberts was to Farrah Fawcett…a big downgrade, that is.

    …wait, which one replaced Kate Jackson? …well, it was somethin’ like that.

  20. Ken–

    For my money, having a character with absurdly clueless responses was wholly unnecessary and an occasional distraction to the misunderstanding-based comedy of 3C, which ought to operate by an implausible series of coincidences wreaking havoc on characters’ generally sensible reactions. Even Don Knotts, who had previously portrayed the single best comic relief character in the history of television, knew enough to tone it way down for a skeletally different comedy.

  21. I will reiterate that Chrissy was funny because she, like Gracey Allen, in spite of the dingy packaging, was usually right. There’s nothin’ like a comedy routine where you know there has to be a straight guy (no pun intended), but you don’t know who the straight guy is until the end. Summers’ charachter, despite appearances, was often the straight guy. What’s-Her-Name couldn’t pull that off with two free hands and some help from Larry.

    P.S. I think it’s interesting that the super-cheap comedy series for mainstream audiences just disappeared. Now, they seem to be relegated to teen shows and smaller networks; back in the day, not only was TC a hit, the Roepers got their own crappy show. Not only did Alice exist, so did a spin off, Flo’s Place. Married W/Children kept that flame alive, but it was considered a maverick show when it started too.

    …There wasn’t anything controversial about Flo’s Place.

  22. Ken: What I liked most about Married with Children is that it introduced the word Wanker to US television…

  23. David T

    “Man About the House” played on Canadian TV in the 70s. It was about as memorable as “Three’s Company”.

  24. Remember that episode that really sucked?

    Which one?

    Maybe the show’s producers were so loath to risk Mr. Ritter contracting pneumonia because they knew about the star’s fragile health twenty years before he eventually died!

    Such a reading underscores the sheer bravery of every pratfall and windy outdoor take in the years that followed, from Three’s a Crowd, the “Problem Child” movies and so on through his renaissance in indie films and his triumphant return to vapid, successful sitcoms.

    He truly is an unsung hero. Where would we be without “10 Rules for Dating My Slutty Network TV Daughter”? ROTFL!

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